Tag Archives: Education

More Evidence FOR a Bachelor’s Degree in LIS

Last December I wrote the Post Library Science Ranks #4 in Highest Unemployment.

According to the Wall Street Journal post From College Major to Career, “Choosing the right college major can make a big difference in students’ career prospects, in terms of employment and pay. Here’s a look at how various college majors fare in the job market, based on 2010 Census data.” WSJ gleaned the study data from a report by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Click here for the full report.

Some readers took exception to the data because it represented only bachelor’s level degree information relating to librarianship employment. As we all know, those entry level jobs are few and far between. But it all seems irrelevant in light of the latest information published by CNBC – 1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed.

Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees.

Or does it? While it seems like the current unemployment/underemployment climate makes my advocacy for a bachelor’s degree in librarianship and information science even less appealing, actually it makes it even more appealing. Seriously? Absolutely! Read on.

While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.

Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.

There is “strong demand in science, education and health fields” – not arts and humanities. Librarianship is a science field. We have need of entry level bachelor’s degree educated individuals who are multi-talented, technology literate, information literate, (dare I say) transliterate, young imaginative, innovative, in-touch librarians who can help change the profession to meet 21st Century challenges.

Be honest, when faced with a choice of science, education or health fields, which would you choose – SCIENCE!!

SLIS are missing the boat by not recruiting these young people into the librarianship profession. Now is the time – well actually, 10 years ago was really the time – to heavily recruit for a bachelor’s degree as an entry level position into the profession. Other disciplines and professions will be doing it. If we don’t get moving, we’ll be left behind – again.

“You can make more money on average if you go to college, but it’s not true for everybody,” says Harvard economist Richard Freeman, noting the growing risk of a debt bubble with total U.S. student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion. “If you’re not sure what you’re going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college.”

Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University who analyzed the numbers, said many people with a bachelor’s degree face a double whammy of rising tuition and poor job outcomes. “Simply put, we’re failing kids coming out of college,” he said, emphasizing that when it comes to jobs, a college major can make all the difference. “We’re going to need a lot better job growth and connections to the labor market, otherwise college debt will grow.” [Emphasis added.]

How can any SLIS faculty or administrator read this and not see the opportunity here? We have a MAJOR pool of undergraduate candidates who have been working in the profession and currently are in local libraries EVERYWHERE. They know what they want to do, but the profession is stifling them! Most don’t have a bachelor’s degree, and the prospect of getting a master’s to become a “librarian” is beyond their grasp right now.

If there were abundant bachelor’s degree programs in LIS, these young library workers would have a stepping stone for career progression. This is not rocket science. All it takes is a few “establishment” librarians to think outside the box for just a minute to see the potential. Why isn’t somebody willing to step into the 21st Century?

This Post is not addressed to those SLIS with existing bachelor’s degree programs. Kentucky, Maine, and others are making an effort to address the shortfall, but are getting no support from the “establishment”.


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Last Thursday I presented to a school librarians association conference on “Becoming a 21st Century Librarian”. In the ‘environment’ section of the presentation I covered eTextbooks as a coming reality in the classroom and school library, and used an infographic from Accredited Online Universities Guide.

What Apple is doing to advance the eTextbook through iBooks 2 for iPad, and iBook Author is both remarkable and aggressive. It literally may change the face of education.

Combine that with results of what higher-ed students are already saying about eTextbooks, based on the results of a survey by e.campus.com – A LOOK AT STUDENTS USING eTEXTBOOKS – and the reality is clear – eTextbooks are the new reality.

At visual.ly, the infographic shows some very convincing trends toward the use of eTextbooks. About half (48%) of all students choose eTextbooks because of the lower price, another 25% choose them to have instant access, 19% choose eTextbooks for the portability, but only 6% prefer reading digital format.

The attraction for eTextbooks seems to be the search capability that 52% like most. Twenty percent like highlighting, and 14% like the copy-paste capability (one might expect this to be the most valued feature), and 12% like the interactive study guides and quizzes. As far as saving time, another big student issue, 51% claim they save from 1 to 3 hours per semester, while 17% say they save more than 3 hours, and 29% don’t see any time savings with eTextbooks.

In response to the question – “Would you buy an eTextbook next semester?” – only 7% said No, but 38% said Yes for all their books, while 54% were undecided – Maybe.

What does this whole trend say about the future of technology, eBooks and library services?


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Changes in Our Librarian Education for the 21st Century – Revisited

In my original Post Changes in Our Librarian Education for the 21st Century in May, 2010, I wrote the following.

Unfortunately, much of the MLS theory gets lost in the face of reality dealing with customers and daily issues. The standing joke of “What they don’t teach you in library school.” has grown legs for a reason. An MLS program is not intended to be a skills program. Advanced degree programs are inherently theory based and not training and practicum based. However, information with immediate application in addition to contemporary theory is highly useful. One example is the University of Michigan Library: The Future of Libraries (YouTube) with an excellent perspective on what libraries and librarians should become.

If SLIS are to stay relevant, like we all want libraries to do, they need to become more – more nimble at including current professional demands and requirements, not just “tried & true” library theory. Schools of library and information science MUST get more relevant and cutting-edge curriculum NOW to address these 21st Century librarianship issues. Tomorrow is too late.

It’s always nice to find out that what one wrote 19 months ago is still their opinion today, and still relevant. Schools of library and information science (SLIS) should seriously consider a bachelor’s degree program to provide “skilled” librarians for the workplace.

In a very recent New York Times, Education Life, article, What You (Really) Need to Know, former Harvard President Lawrence Summers posed some very interesting ideas about higher education. I believe many of these concepts could find application in our schools of library and information science (SLIS) – especially in a bachelor’s degree program.

Summers wrote about the rapidly changing world as compared to the stability of the university curriculum as “Part of universities’ function … to keep alive man’s greatest creations, passing them from generation to generation.” He also acknowledged that the structure of higher education has remained static.

With few exceptions, just as in the middle of the 20th century, students take four courses a term, each meeting for about three hours a week, usually with a teacher standing in front of the room. Students are evaluated on the basis of examination essays handwritten in blue books and relatively short research papers. Instructors are organized into departments, most of which bear the same names they did when the grandparents of today’s students were undergraduates. A vast majority of students still major in one or two disciplines centered on a particular department.

But the most interesting part of his article was his speculation that “Suppose the educational system is drastically altered to reflect the structure of society and what we now understand about how people learn. How will what universities teach be different?

Here are some guesses and hopes.”

1. Education will be more about how to process and use information and less about imparting it. This is a consequence of both the proliferation of knowledge — and how much of it any student can truly absorb — and changes in technology.

In SLIS master’s program curriculum the emphasis is on theory. This does not mesh well with the idea that librarians need to learn skills and to operate in a collaborative environment. They should be prepared to enter the professional workplace where mastery of facts is less important than being able to think creatively and innovate new technology and ideas.

2. An inevitable consequence of the knowledge explosion is that tasks will be carried out with far more collaboration. … More significant, collaboration is a much greater part of what workers do, what businesses do and what governments do. Yet the great preponderance of work a student does is done alone at every level in the educational system. … As greater value is placed on collaboration, surely it should be practiced more in our nation’s classrooms.

Views on ‘collaboration equates to cheating’ are changing in the face of the reality Summers points out. Strategic Partnerships is one of the new 21st Century librarianship skills that must be developed. Library science majors collaborating with business majors, marketing majors, and computer science majors is a good thing!

3. New technologies will profoundly alter the way knowledge is conveyed. Electronic readers allow textbooks to be constantly revised, and to incorporate audio and visual effects. … In a 2008 survey of first- and second-year medical students at Harvard, those who used accelerated video lectures reported being more focused and learning more material faster than when they attended lectures in person.

This is not news to any librarian, whether they are in the stacks or in the classroom. Learning this new technology is best accomplished by using this new technology, and where better to learn than in the classroom as an integral part of the curriculum.

4. As articulated by the Nobel Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman in “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” we understand the processes of human thought much better than we once did. … Not everyone learns most effectively in the same way. And yet in the face of all evidence, we rely almost entirely on passive learning. …

“Active learning classrooms” — which cluster students at tables, with furniture that can be rearranged and integrated technology — help professors interact with their students through the use of media and collaborative experiences.

If current SLIS have one strength, this is probably it. Even when I went through the MLS at ESU in 1995-6, it used this methodology, and it was very effective. It incorporates many other tenets of what librarians need to learn.

5. The world is much more open, and events abroad affect the lives of Americans more than ever before. This makes it essential that the educational experience breed cosmopolitanism — that students have international experiences,

At the risk of sounding like I’m bragging, the 2011 in Review of this 21st Century Library Blog showed many viewers from every continent. I gain much information from librarians in other countries. Collaboration is international today, not just local. Exposure to this reality should begin in SLIS.

6. Courses of study will place much more emphasis on the analysis of data. … As the “Moneyball” story aptly displays in the world of baseball, the marshalling [sic] of data to test presumptions and locate paths to success is transforming almost every aspect of human life. … [C]ertainly the financial crisis speaks to the consequences of the failure to appreciate “black swan events” and their significance. In an earlier era, when many people were involved in surveying land, it made sense to require that almost every student entering a top college know something of trigonometry. Today, a basic grounding in probability statistics and decision analysis makes far more sense.

For many years now people have been predicting change in the world, in the way it does business, they way it accesses information, but SLIS curricula have not kept pace with ANY CHANGES. University curriculum committees are notoriously slow to make changes, yet universities are supposed to be the incubators of ideas and innovation. Why aren’t we seeing any of that in SLIS curriculum?

Summers ended his article with the following.

A good rule of thumb for many things in life holds that things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then happen faster than you thought they could. Think, for example, of the widespread use of the e-book, or the coming home to roost of debt problems around the industrialized world. Here is a bet and a hope that the next quarter century will see more change in higher education than the last three combined.

It took many years for the e-reader to become a reality, but now Kindle is the fastest selling item in Amazon history. It also took many years before the tablet computer became a reality, but iPad launched an avalanche of mobile computing, as did the iPhone before it. Now mobile communication devices are everywhere doing virtually everything.

Technology is advancing exponentially, society is advancing exponentially, but education is barely advancing. WHY? Librarians can and are making changes in the way their libraries do business! We’re seeing excellent examples of that in practice in local libraries. SLIS are a collection of librarians, so why are we not changing librarian education? WHY DO SLIS WAIT UNTIL THERE IS A CRISIS TO MAKE CHANGES?

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Why Not a Bachelor in Library Science? – Revisited

“Why isn’t that a good idea? Seems as though it is a very good idea in some librarians’ minds – at least those in Connecticut, Kentucky and Maine.” – and NORTH CAROLINA.

The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill’s renowned School of Information and Library Science has recently announced –

Dual Bachelor’s – Master’s Program
The Dual Bachelor’s – Master’s Program is a unique offering in higher education. Of the 24 iSchools in North America, only 4 offer an accelerated Bachelor’s – Master’s program of any sort; and other than these 4 iSchools, only 1 of the 58 programs accredited by the American Library Association offer an accelerated Bachelor’s – Master’s program.

The dual Bachelor’s – Master’s program is intended to enable Information Science (IS) majors to obtain both their BS and MS degree by early planning of an undergraduate program that integrates well with the graduate degree requirements for either a Master’s in Information Science (MSIS) or a Master’s in Library Science (MSLS). While the BSIS provides sound preparation for entry into the information professions, the Master’s degree provides a distinct advantage to those who aim to advance to managerial or leadership positions.

The BSIS and Master’s programs prepare students for careers in public, private, and governmental institutions of all kinds as information system analysts, designers and developers, data managers, web designers, librarians, archivists, and similar areas. The SILS curricula offer students a sound foundation of coursework, augmented by projects, internships (field experience), and research opportunities that contribute to making SILS graduates highly sought after by employers.

With this kind of horsepower behind a BS in library science, maybe we’ll see some movement in this direction – eventually.


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Leader Development

OK, let’s agree that the librarianship profession does not attract lots of leader type people. What should we do about that? DUH! We should develop leaders from among those librarians who have an aptitude for it, express an interest in being a leader, and are willing to work to become one. AND, I am not referring to individuals who simply want to get the highest salary or be top dog in their local library, or library association. I am referring to REAL LEADERS – those librarians who “by force of example, talents, and/or qualities of character” will play a directing role and wield commanding influence to inspire others to follow them in creating a 21st Century Library.

How do we, either individually or collectively, develop real leaders within the librarian community? Obviously, by educating, training, mentoring and nurturing those who would seek to become leaders.

In my December 19 Post Why Not a Bachelor’s in Library Science?, I explored the idea of establishing the BS degree as entry level for the librarianship profession, not the MLS. Teaching management and leadership at this level creates a foundation of knowledge and skills upon which the entering librarian can build through experience, mentoring and nurturing. That’s how it’s done in every other profession! Librarianship is missing the boat.

I cited responses from BLS programs that included this.

2. We believe that librarians, especially public librarians, are called upon to do much more than their earlier counterparts. Skills in technology, management, marketing, and finance are needed for the 21st Century Librarian. Can all this be learned in the 36 credit hours of most Master’s programs? The Library Informatics program compliments graduate level studies in Library Science and provides a pathway for library science students.

Pointed and succinct! “Skills in … management … are needed for the 21st Century Librarian. The [BS] program compliments graduate level studies in Library Science and provides a pathway for library science students.” WE ARE NOT CURRENTLY PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE PATHWAY FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT WITHIN OUR PROFESSION. It is totally unrealistic to expect a MLS graduate to spontaneously develop the management or leadership skills necessary to lead a library. That should begin at the undergraduate level!

What about local or national programs for developing leader librarians? Well, they’re better than nothing, but how many people have time and resources to invest in attending this type of continuing education away from their librarian job? And, who are the people teaching these “leadership” courses or programs? What is their background in leadership education, experience or talent? Any really useful or effective programs are few.

A quick review of ALA’s roster of Library Leadership Training Resources reveals significant inadequacies – both in the quantity and the goals.

Leadership Training: ACRL/Harvard Advanced Leadership Institute for Senior Academic Librarians
The Advanced Leadership Institute for Senior Academic Librarians enables senior library leaders to better understand and respond to a complicated set of leadership challenges facing academic libraries.

For a handful of ‘senior’ academic librarians.


Leadership Training: Emerging Leaders
The ALA Emerging Leaders (EL) program is a leadership development program which enables newer library workers from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. It puts participants on the fast track to ALA committee volunteerism as well as other professional library-related organizations. [Emphasis added.]

I love this one. Let ALA train you to be an ALA committee member – NOT A “LEADER” – a volunteer to help perpetuate the organization.


Leadership Training: Leadership Development
Association of Research Libraries ARL’s Leadership Development initiatives assist research libraries to meet the instructional and research needs of higher education.

Another limited, although very important, segment of the librarianship profession.


California State Library, in partnership with Infopeople
Leadership Training: Eureka! Leadership Program: Discover the Leader Within
The California State Library, in partnership with Infopeople, is pleased to offer an exciting professional development initiative – the Eureka! Leadership Program: Discover the Leader Within. The Program has been designed for professional librarians with between three and ten years of professional library experience, but is also open to those in library management positions who do not have an MLS. The Program is looking for California library staff who exhibit leadership potential and are willing to share with others their enthusiasm, optimism, and vision for future library services.

Although CSL has a sterling reputation, this reads a bit tentative to me. Not to mention that the program wants librarians who have between 3 – 10 years experience, so I guess all the rest of you are out of luck for developing your leadership skills. You either don’t know enough to get leadership training, or you’re over the hill – career wise.


Wyoming State Library
Leadership Training: Wyoming Library Leadership Institute
The Wyoming Library Leadership Institute operates two institutes. During the even-year summer we will hold the library leadership institute for new attendees. During the odd years we will hold an advanced leadership institute opened to anyone who has attended in the past. The Library Leadership Institute exists to provide opportunities for learning, mentoring and developing leadership skills to promote the personal and professional growth of the Wyoming library community. The institute is a tool for nurturing both degreed and non-degreed individuals in leadership roles. It is not a workshop on becoming a library director or a workshop on library administration.

Although several states have leadership programs of some form, this one above from Wyoming caught my attention as addressing real leadership issues, and just leadership. “… to provide opportunities for learning, mentoring and developing leadership skills to promote the personal and professional growth of the Wyoming library community.”

It doesn’t get off track with developing “cohort groups”, “identifying the local, state and global environment”, “leadership roles within [state library association]“, “advance up the career ladder in library management”, or some other non-leadership topics. Iowa and North Carolina also have interesting sounding programs, but the total list of resources for leadership development is woefully short. Every state should have a leadership institute or program, focused strictly on “leadership”.

Most of the significant accomplishments within the profession regarding leadership development need to be achieved through entry level education that creates a solid foundation, followed by mentoring and nurturing on the job, with regular exposure to leadership programs at the state and/or local level. Again, we are not currently providing an “effective” pathway for leadership development within our profession. It is ludicrously unrealistic to expect a MLS graduate to spontaneously develop the management or leadership skills necessary to lead a library.

If the librarianship profession expects its leaders to “by force of example, talents, and/or qualities of character play a directing role, wield commanding influence or have a following” in reestablishing the relevance of the library in the 21st Century community, it had better get started by developing real leaders among new librarians – and hope and pray it’s not too late.


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Why Not a Bachelor’s in Library Science?

Why isn’t that a good idea? Seems as though it is a very good idea in some librarians’ minds – at least those in Connecticut, Kentucky and Maine.

ALA has a webpage promoted by the Council On Library/Media Technicians (COLT) which lists institutions, by state, that offer training and education programs for ‘librarians’. I found three with BS programs, and contacted each.

One program director deferred to the ALA formal position regarding educational programs by writing back;

The American Library Association accredited only the Master of Library and Information Studies level programs. The MLS/MLIS is for the entry level professional librarian and information specialist qualification in the US. Please check the American Library Association’s website, under education and training, or under ALA accreditation.

The B.S. ILS program is for the paraprofessional, such as library technical assistant position in libraries. There is also a minor requirement. You could find more information about the undergraduate programs from our Southern Connecticut State University.

The second response was much more informative, and described the necessity for a BS program in library informatics.

Why create an undergraduate program in Library Science?
1. In Kentucky there is a gap in education for library staff and future MLS librarians. A state law requires all public library employees to be certified. … There was a gap in education between the Associate degree and the Master of Library Science offered at the University of Kentucky.

2. We believe that librarians, especially public librarians, are called upon to do much more than their earlier counterparts. Skills in technology, management, marketing, and finance are needed for the 21st Century Librarian. Can all this be learned in the 36 credit hours of most Master’s programs? The Library Informatics program compliments graduate level studies in Library Science and provides a pathway for library science students.

3. Rural librarianship! In Kentucky, almost one-third of our rural library directors do not have an undergraduate degree. Salaries are low and it is almost impossible to recruit a MLS librarian to these areas. Fortunately, the Institute for Museum and Library Services has agreed with us and funded two major grant proposals. The first project was Bridging the Gap: Supplying the Next Generation of Librarians to the Underserved Counties of Rural Kentucky. With a budget of over $1.3 million, we have given out over 50 scholarships, technology stipends, and provided mentors for students.

These are very good reasons for instituting a BS program to meet the needs of the profession in that state. I’m certain many more states have similar circumstances that warrant similar programs.

I recently spoke with the third respondent Dr. Jodi Williams, Information and Library Service Program Director, University of Maine at Augusta. She runs the Bachelor of Science in Information and Library Service program, and has since 2004 when she joined UMA coming from a faculty position at an institution that offered an undergraduate program in LIS, as well as a MLIS program. UMA offers a certificate, associate and bachelor’s degrees in Information and Library Service, and has since the 1990s. As she said; “Our program found a niche.”

Maine’s library community is like many other states in that it is appreciably rural and geographically dispersed. Many states can identify with that, as well as the pressing need to offer training and education in the librarianship profession. Decades ago the Maine State Librarian went to UMA (which is not a graduate-degree granting institution), and asked about offering librarianship programs for their diverse library community, partly because UMA was exploring distance education. The rest of the evolutionary and revolutionary story is history.

Years ago the program was about 70% Maine residents, but today the LIS program has 250 students, with about 30% Maine residents. The other 70% are from other states and foreign countries. Dr. Williams has traveled to the Pacific Islands to discuss articulation agreements, and plans to work with Salt Lake Community College, UT, next year about a similar associate degree articulation agreement. She also mentioned that she and the UMA BILS program have name recognition in Colorado – a noteworthy achievement by any standard.

One of the most striking features of the BS program is the requirement for each student to complete a practicum, supervised by an MLS “Librarian”. Not only is it an AH-HA experience for the students, even for those who have worked in the library for years and are reticent to do a practicum, but more importantly for the MLS librarians who supervise the BILS students. During our conversation, Dr. Williams told me that she is a change agent by “emissaries”, not activism, and has found repeatedly that this practicum experience for the seasoned MLS librarians has changed their opinion of the value of a BS degree to the individual, their library organization, and the profession.

Dr. Williams has noted an evolving recognition of a “career ladder” within the segments of the librarian profession with which she deals that supports a BS as entry level and MILS for advancement. The BS program is very much oriented toward the practical application of librarianship, compared to the theoretical perspective of an MLS program. It sounds to me like graduates leave the UMA BILS program actually knowing how to do things in their first librarian job, as opposed to MLS graduates who leave that program maybe understanding what needs to be done. How refreshing!

She said her students graduate with a confidence in their ability to be immediately effective in their first library position, which to me seems much more worthwhile than an MLS graduate who has never worked in a library and complains about “What they don’t teach you in library school.” That also sounds to me like the BILS librarian can DO the job, whereas the MLS librarian can TALK about the job! Why isn’t that a good thing for the graduate and the library?

Two examples of UMA BILS students making a difference are below (one a practicum, the other a student being active in the Occupy movement) located at these websites; Revitalization of Maine Media’s Library, and Occupy Movement and the Library.

Again, my question is – “Why not a bachelor in library science?” Can any program that achieves the following goals be a bad thing – for individuals, the library organization, or the profession? UMA’s ILS program website contains the following.

Trained library personnel must respond to the rapid national surge in information technology, and the Information and Library Services program provides relevant courses to assist students in acquiring this evolving knowledge and the skills necessary to become effective and well-informed members of a library team. Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in Information and Library Services are available at UMA.

This program prepares individuals for immediate entry into positions which support library and information service professionals; to upgrade skills of staff who are presently working in school, public, academic, and special libraries and in other information intensive positions and organizations. The program will prepare students for a career as a library and information services assistant. Students will examine policies and issues related to libraries, library careers, and the library profession.

Dr. Williams clarified the advantages of the UMA BILS program even further by stating in an email that;

Our degree very much promotes that there is a place for everyone at the table, but that we need a stronger understanding of those places and how people can move through the channels with both experience and different levels of education. This is about learning across a spectrum and understanding that some want the Masters while other students who come through our program are happily situated in their current jobs and glad to have the practical skills to better serve their patrons.

Based on that astute summary of a BS in ILS program, what can be so wrong with a profession that has the normal hierarchy of educational requirements for advancement – associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate? Nothing! That old argument about library technicians do a more technical and specific job, while “Librarians” (meaning MLS degreed) are generalists and management candidates that can do everything DOES NOT HOLD WATER! It’s simply RHETORIC to justify the arbitrary distinctions between “professional” and “para-professional”! We all know that there are virtually no authorities (i.e., governments, librarian unions, etc.) that dictate who can and cannot do certain librarianship tasks within a library organization.

“OK, since you don’t have an MLS, you can only do these limited tasks within the library organization, and since you do have an MLS, you can do all the rest of the tasks that “Librarians” do.” IT DOESN’T HAPPEN! All “librarians” do everything!

Most states don’t even require school librarians to have an MLS, just a library media specialist certificate, and these people are actually in a position that really teaches their customers. Most have degrees in education! Public libraries don’t really have a mission to educate – inform – not educate – big difference. So, is the current system claiming that a master’s degree is more important for public librarians than for public school librarians? If that’s the case, maybe all any public “Librarian” needs is just a bachelor degree with a library media specialist certificate.

There is something drastically wrong with this picture! Why is the MLS entry level for this profession? Just read the over 40 comments to Annoyed Librarian at LibraryJournal.com, and you’ll see – IT SHOULD NOT BE!

All three of the states cited above recognized a need within their states for bachelor’s degree in library science programs. The program found a demand, which is always the first indicator of a need for more wide scale change.

I would sincerely like for any one to give me good reasons for this situation, if there is more to it than just a holdover from 19th Century elitist thinking.


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Personalized Learning Means Personalized Library

Alvin Toffler is a world renowned thinker that people listen to – CLOSELY! He’s saying that we need to “Shut down the public education system.” In a recent interview with Edutopia, Toffler said he was echoing what Bill Gates – another big thinker that people listen to – said roughly, “We don’t need to reform the system; we need to replace the system.”

Toffler added that “The public school system is designed to produce a workforce for an economy that will not be there. And therefore, with all the best intentions in the world, we’re stealing the kids’ future.” So, in addition to creating a massive debt for future generations of Americans, we are stealing their future through a nearly worthless education system? WOW! Anybody else think something HAS to change?

What it means is that educational change is demanded. Many smart people are working on it, as I’ve reported over the past two years – Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Association of College and Research Libraries, American Association of School Librarians, and others.

According to Toffler;

Why does everybody have to start at age five? Maybe some kids should start at age eight and work fast. Or vice versa. Why is everything massified in the system, rather than individualized in the system? New technologies make possible customization in a way that the old system — everybody reading the same textbook at the same time — did not offer.

Any form of diversity that we can introduce into the schools is a plus. Today, we have a big controversy about all the charter schools that are springing up. The school system people hate them because they’re taking money from them. I say we should radically multiply charter schools, because they begin to provide a degree of diversity in the system that has not been present. Diversify the system.

… Businesses have to change at 100 miles per hour because if they don’t, they die. Competition just puts them out of the game. So they’re traveling very, very fast. … [G]oing 10 miles per hour. That’s the public education system. Schools are supposed to be preparing kids for the business world of tomorrow, to take jobs, to make our economy functional. The schools are changing, if anything, at 10 miles per hour. So, how do you match an economy that requires 100 miles per hour with an institution like public education? A system that changes, if at all, at 10 miles per hour?

Let’s hope and assume that significant education reform will happen on a nation-wide scale in the near future. What does that mean for librarianship?

So, let’s sit down as a culture, as a society, and say, “Teachers, parents, people outside, how do we completely rethink this? We’re going to create a new system from ground zero, and what new ideas have you got?” And collect those new ideas. That would be a very healthy thing for the country to do.

I just feel it’s inevitable that there will have to be change. The only question is whether we’re going to do it starting now, or whether we’re going to wait for catastrophe.

Think about your library in these new terms.
These are the fundamentals of Toffler’s vision for education in the 21st century:

    • Open 24 hours a day
    • Customized educational experience
    • Kids arrive at different times
    • Students begin their formalized schooling at different ages
    • Curriculum is integrated across disciplines
    • Non-teachers work with teachers
    • Teachers alternate working in schools and in business world
    • Local businesses have offices in the schools
    • Increased number of charter schools

Does a customized educational experience mean a customized library experience? OF COURSE! Isn’t that what 21st Century librarianship means – your library that meets your community’s needs? OF COURSE!

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A New Taxonomy in Education

Many times since August, 2010 I have reiterated what Dr. Anne-Imelda M. Radice, Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services, wrote in the IMLS 2010 publication The Future of Museums and Libraries: A Discussion Guide that, “… the delivery of library … services will be impacted by technology, education reform, and societal … changes …”
A statement of the challenges facing public libraries does not get much more succinct than that – technology, education reform, and societal changes.

Many tend to think 21st Century Skills is the major movement in education to transition from the industrial model to the information age model for schools. I just became aware that there is another significant theory shift for education, one that moves beyond Bloom’s Taxonomy of the 1950s, and toward a new cognition of a new generation that no longer fits that industrial mold.

Quick review – according to our friends at Wikipedia,

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification of learning objectives within education proposed in 1956 by a committee of educators chaired by Benjamin Bloom who also edited the first volume of the standard text,

It refers to a classification of the different objectives that educators set for students (learning objectives). Bloom’s Taxonomy divides educational objectives into three “domains”: Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor (sometimes loosely described as knowing/head, feeling/heart and doing/hands respectively). Within the domains, learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels. A goal of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to motivate educators to focus on all three domains, creating a more holistic form of education. [Emphasis added.]


Robert Marzano, a highly respected educational researcher, has published The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.

Audio overview by Marzano.

Developed to respond to the shortcomings of the widely used Bloom’s Taxonomy and the current environment of syllabus guidelines-based instruction, Marzano’s model of thinking skills incorporates a wider range of factors that affect how students think and provides a more research-based theory to help teachers improve their students’ thinking.

Marzano’s New Taxonomy is made up of three systems and the Knowledge Domain, all of which are important for thinking and learning. The three systems are the Self-System, the Metacognitive System, and the Cognitive System. When faced with the option of starting a new task, the Self-System decides whether to continue the current behavior or engage in the new activity; the Metacognitive System sets goals and keeps track of how well they are being achieved; the Cognitive System processes all the necessary information, and the Knowledge Domain provides the content.

One of the numerous tenets of Marzano’s New Taxonomy includes Knowledge Utilization. As an example of a new theory of education;

The final level of cognitive processes addresses the use of knowledge. … The processes of using knowledge are especially important components of thinking for project-based learning since they include processes used by people when they want to accomplish a specific task. Decision-making, a cognitive process involves the weighing of options to determine the most appropriate course of action. Problem-solving occurs when an obstacle is encountered on the way to achieving a goal. Sub-skills for this process include identification of and analysis of the problem. Experimental inquiry involves generating hypotheses about physical or psychological phenomena, creating experiments, and analyzing the results. Third graders designing bean plant experiments and analyzing ideal conditions for growth are conducting experimental inquiry. For more information on this project, see the Unit Plan, The Great Bean Race. [Emphasis added.]

Make no mistake about it – education reform is progressing! Education reform, in combination with technology advances and societal changes, will change the environment of the library and thus librarianship in terms of the customer who seeks – or doesn’t seek – library services. If you’re not ready to embrace the changes of the 21st Century Library………

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School Libraries: What’s Yet to Come?

What is the future of school libraries – school librarians? That is the core subject of a new “crowd-sourced” eBook edited and self-published by Kristin Fontichiaro and Buffy Hamilton using Smashwords. The eBook is available in several eReader formats including PDF.

According to the authors’ Introduction;

It’s undeniable that the number of certified school librarians is on the decline just as it’s equally undeniable that the explosion of digital resources – in parallel with existing print resources – means students and classroom teachers need more support than ever before.

What is the future of school libraries? More particularly, what is the future of school librarians? At the present time, libraries aren’t being closed in schools; librarians are the loss leaders.

For those of us still working in schools, what are we working toward? For those of us sent back into classrooms or other professions to await a better future, like Eastern European partisans waiting in the forests for rescue after Soviet Occupation, what would life after liberation look like? Both are valid and valuable questions.

Those are some of the question we posed to the extended school librarian community. What is the future going to be like? What do you see? What can you hold up from your own practice as a lantern to illuminate the way for others? These questions are too big to be answered by any single librarian, district, organization, or task force. They take collective thinking.

The monumental questions regarding the future of a profession are certainly best answered by those within that profession, and so the authors did what every good librarian would do in the 21st Century environment of social networking and technology – they asked their colleagues for perspective, and published the results in an open format. What they hoped to achieve was to find out; “What new inspirations could we gain from one another? What new questions might arise? What might help us gain strength and inspiration from one another, even as our roles and duties expand and our job security and salaries decrease?”

With input from over 50 librarians from all quarters and career perspectives, as well as some non-librarians too, the editors organized the content into the following chapters.

    1: Learners
    2: Who And When We Teach
    3: Emerging And Multiple Literacies
    4: Gaming
    5: Reading
    6: Physical Libraries
    7: Virtual Libraries
    8: Collection Development
    9: Collaboration
    10: Professional Learning

While there was no summary or attempt to synthesize the input from contributors, that is not a fault of the work, but I assume, a clear recognition of each contributor’s perspective and opinion standing on its own merit. Overall, it is an interesting and worthwhile work that should contribute to the school librarian profession today.

Some of the more notable input from contributors included the following excerpts.

I began my career in education as a technology instructor but later moved into libraries because I saw that the librarian tapped into the enduring core of what a strict focus on technology could only circle around with its endless stream of upgrades, inventions, and applications. I saw the skill my students needed was to be able to construct meaning and communicate effectively with any tool that happened to be at hand. The tools and media formats are constantly changing, but the processes involved and the habits of mind engaged remain the same.

I have sometimes heard my colleagues described as “more than librarians” or “not really librarians” because they do so much more than hand out books. But “librarian” is not a misnomer for those who embrace collaboration, adapt to new technologies, and serve as leaders in schools.

All these children will be held to the same rigorous standards. Teachers will be scrambling to locate appropriate support materials that allow them to scaffold instruction. Teachers will need to ensure that every student has access to foundational background knowledge that levels the playing field. Teachers will need differentiated material that explains and reinforces fundamental academic vocabulary. Teachers will need multiple reading selections that reflect increasingly sophisticated text complexity for all students, no matter their starting point. These challenges present unique opportunities for school librarians to strut our prowess in finding engaging and accessible information resources.

To meet the needs of our 21st-century learners, we have to think like THEM! How do we do that? By providing engaging, high-interest connections designed to awaken prior knowledge and linking it to the research ahead we will jump-start the creation of new, authentic, and globally-shared knowledge.

It’s easy: keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening now in the lives of teens. What is important? Grabs their attention? Makes them wonder or laugh? Frightens them? In many cases, answers can be found by tapping into the world of social media and pop culture.

Our library program uses tweets, podcasts, movie trailers, television commercials, music videos, blogs, and more to connect students to the inquiry process. High-interest introductions can awaken prior knowledge and set the stage for engaging, participatory learning. Capture your students’ attention from the start.

AnyQuestions.co.nz (and its companion sites UiaNgāPātai.co.nz and ManyAnswers.co.nz) is a free online reference service for New Zealand school students. The service is staffed by friendly librarians from around New Zealand and is funded by the Ministry of Education to provide information literacy skills. Operators don’t find information for students but rather assist students in developing information literacy skills so they can find the information for themselves. The service exists to supplement the great work that school librarians do already, and since 2005 the service has helped over 80,000 New Zealand school students.

In many ways AnyQuestions is the future of librarianship, a decentralized service that students access as and when they need.

Yet many AnyQuestions operators are uneasy in this space. There is a definite sense that the online environment is a space where students have the power. ….

Of course this argument that the students have the power is fundamentally flawed. Students log on to AnyQuestions.co.nz because they don’t have the skills to find the information they are looking for, skills which the librarian does have.

One of our [librarian and teacher] most successful collaborations was with a group of senior students studying genetically transmitted diseases. Traditionally, this project would have been a fact gathering mission that amounted to cut-and-paste with little evidence of real engagement or learning. We brainstormed ways of delivering the information gathering process that would increase student engagement and make the learning more personal. Eventually, we decided to put the students in groups of five, assigning the following roles: a person with the genetic disorder; the parent who had passed on the gene; a medical professional; a sibling who did not have the gene; and a presenter who would interview the others on video.

Seek out that special teaching practitioner. Look for a teacher with experience and a willingness to work collaboratively, a teacher who is looking for a new challenge. Avoid the brand new enthusiast, who will likely be overcome by the challenges, and in particular, avoid the jaded. If you select well and execute with grace and precision, this teacher will likely become your strongest advocate. Nurture this teacher; your future may depend on it.

The future librarian is an instructional leader and partner who works with teachers and administrators to build school-wide collections that are accessible beyond the walls of the library and that defy traditional delivery methods. She builds a library presence centered around both physical and digital spaces for conversation, creativity and collaboration. She and her students blog, Tweet, and share their work in collaborative online spaces.

The future librarian embraces social media and uses it to build a bridge between students, teachers and the world. She understands that in order to meet student needs, the library must be accessible anytime, anywhere. The future librarian is creative, flexible, and willing to do whatever it takes to engage students. He is an active member of personal learning networks and, what’s more, he thinks reflectively about what make learning joyful and exciting for him. Then he applies those lessons to the library. The future librarian provides opportunities for wonder and experimentation. He promotes reading for pleasure and learning through play; this librarian knows that all instruction must be both relevant and riveting.

The time for the future librarian is now. Though we live in exponential times, the world of education has struggled to keep up. For school librarians, there has never been a time of greater uncertainty or opportunity. As what it means to educate the 21st-century learner evolves, school librarians have the opportunity to claim our place as instructional leaders in this new educational landscape. [Emphasis added.]

One such [pivotal teaching] moment occurred for me more than a decade into my teaching career and was sparked off by my involvement in the online digital novel Inanimate Alice. Written for, and specifically to be read and viewed from the screen, Inanimate Alice represents a radical shift to the transmedia universe. Designed from the outset as a story that unfolds over time and on multiple platforms, ‘Alice’ connects technologies, languages, cultures, generations and curricula within a sweeping narrative accessible by all.

For me, Inanimate Alice represents a paradigm shift in how I approach education in the 21st-century. Through the power of transmedia storytelling, I am able to take what might otherwise be a one-dimensional task for some of my learners and turn it into a fully immersive and multi-dimensional experience for all.

[The] skills of discernment are in greater demand now than ever before, due to students’ unprecedented access to an unprecedented flood of information. Now the greatest commodity is not the information itself but the distinct ability to synthesize and contextualize it, to turn it into useful, practical knowledge.

School librarians—through Dewey, Bloom, and by other means—have always helped create order in the world as well as a context for learning and reading. Now they must work to apply these critically important skills to the next content wave: the emerging tide of Apps and other new streams of e-content on the verge of becoming ubiquitous.

[W]hy isn’t the library the largest tinkering space in the school? Why in a project based environment isn’t the hub of activity located in the library? It could so easily be a large open space with mobile resources forming constellations around working students. Tables where 3D models are built can cluster with tables supporting wireless laptops. Print resources on wheels can parallel park next to those tables. And the whole project could have been diagramed and dissected into peer accountability with a mobile whiteboard and chairs pulled into an open space….

[A]s budgets tightened the Napa Valley School Library Consortium began to experience the elimination of funding that purchased valuable student print and digital resources. The city county public library systems and the consortium member school districts began to collectively explore different ways to provide much needed services. The NVSLC, the Napa City County Library, and the independent St. Helena Public Library formed a valuable partnership to make available student resources that were beyond the NVSLC’s funding capabilities The result of this collaboration has been to define the student library card or instant eCard as the point of entry to access public library resources.

In addition to those high school English or history classes that introduce critical thinking skills, it is the librarian who takes critical thinking development further in prepping their students for the rigors of academic writing that include the essentials of Boolean searching, how to read a scholarly article, how to effectively use citation tools, and more.

Whether through membership in a national, regional or state association, collaborative/consortium, wiki, subscription to a listserv or blog, or participation in a social network like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, there is a need for us to find and connect with one another as professionals committed to continuous improvement of our work. I can’t imagine that this need will change though I do imagine that the ways in which we do connect may be very different. In the here and now, know that I can get frustrated at the seeming stodginess of our more venerable associations and the bylaws and traditions that seem to get in the way of providing a rapid response to address compelling needs or just get necessary work done in a timely fashion. [Emphasis added.]

An appropriate quote on which to end! If you are a school librarian, you will want to use this resource.


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School Librarians Not Even an Afterthought in Education?

Last week (September 26 & 27, 2011) librarians were conspicuously absent (to School Library Journal at least) from NBC’s second annual Education Nation Summit, “a two-day event that brought together 350 educators, policymakers, business leaders, parents, and students to talk about improving education—but one thing was clearly missing: the discussion of librarians.” Shouldn’t there be a hue and cry of outrage from someone, somewhere?

According to SLJ, “… the only talk of librarians during the 19 panel discussions was when education activist Diane Ravitch, speaking about student achievement, said “closing libraries and getting rid of school nurses is not the answer.” No doubt librarians will love being in the same category as school nurses – and vice versa. Should janitorial staff be included in there?

Obviously, I’m being sarcastic, but to think that school librarians are not considered a critical stakeholder in education – as equally so as “business leaders, parents, and students” – is an outrage. For librarians not to be included in any public education summit, conference or conversation of any group is an outrage. Unfortunately, it is not a new phenomenon, but this slight seems to take marginalizing school librarians to a national extreme.

Back in May I Posted Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Program Eliminated writing that “ALA tells us that literacy within our schools is no longer a priority for our government.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was zeroed out under the Department of Education’s allocation for FY2011 funding (PDF), released today.

Improving Literacy Through School Libraries is the only federal program solely for our nation’s school libraries. This program supports local education agencies in improving reading achievement by providing students with increased access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school libraries; and professionally certified school librarians.

“This decision shows that school libraries have been abandoned by President Obama and the Department of Education,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office, said.
Nancy Everhart, president of the ALA’s Association of School Librarians (AASL), said school library programs provide students with the skills they need to select, interpret, form and communicate ideas in compelling ways with emerging technologies, preparing students for the demands of a global, competitive economy and a 21st century workplace.

“Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that students in schools with strong school library programs learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized tests even when differences in socioeconomic factors are taken into consideration,” Everhart said.

It appears that school libraries and librarians have also been abandoned by “educators”, and those like NBC purporting to support education.

A year ago I was encouraged by AASL’s “Standards for the 21st-Century Learner IN ACTION“. In my Sep 13 Post 21st Century Skills in Action in School Libraries, I wrote;

If you thought the 21st Century Skills list of Information Literacy expectations for 21st century learners was impressive in the previous Post, then just read what the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) … has developed as guidelines for school librarians and libraries….

7e. Benchmarks to Achieve by Grade 12

Standard 1: Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.

Strand 1.1: Skills

Indicator 1.1.1:  Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real-world connection for using this process in own life.

·Independently and systematically use an inquiry-based process to deepen content knowledge, connect academic learning with the real world, pursue personal interests, and investigate opportunities for personal growth.

Indicator 1.1.2:  Use prior and background knowledge as context for new learning.

·Explore general information sources to increase familiarity with the topic or question.

·Review the initial information need to develop, clarify, revise, or refine the question.

·Compare new background information with prior knowledge to determine direction and focus of new learning.

Indicator 1.1.3:  Develop and refine a range of questions to frame the search for new understanding.

·Recognize that the purpose of the inquiry determines the type of questions and the type of thinking required (e.g., an historical purpose may require one to take a position and defend it).

·Explore problems or questions for which there are multiple answers or no “best” answer.

·Review the initial information need to clarify, revise, or refine the questions.

Indicator 1.1.4:  Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.

·Identify the value of and differences among potential resources in a variety of formats.

·Use various search systems to retrieve information in a variety of formats.

·Seek and use a variety of specialized resources available from libraries, the Internet, and the community.

·Describe criteria used to make resource decisions and choices.

Indicator 1.1.5:  Evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, importance, and social and cultural context.

·Evaluate historical information for validity of interpretation, and scientific information for accuracy and reliability of data.

·Recognize the social, cultural, or other context within which the information was created and explain the impact of context on interpreting the information.

·Use consciously selected criteria to determine whether the information contradicts or verifies information from other sources.

Indicator 1.1.6: Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (e.g., textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning.

·Restate concepts in own words and select appropriate data accurately.

·Integrate new information presented in various formats with previous information or knowledge.

·Analyze initial synthesis of findings and construct new hypotheses or generalizations if warranted.

·Challenge ideas represented and make notes of questions to pursue in additional sources.

Indicator 1.1.7:  Make sense of information gathered from diverse sources by identifying misconceptions, main and supporting ideas, conflicting information, and point of view or bias.

·Create a system to organize the information.

·Analyze the structure and logic of supporting arguments or methods.

·Analyze information for prejudice, deception, or manipulation.

·Investigate different viewpoints encountered and determine whether and how to incorporate or reject these viewpoints.

·Compensate for the effect of point of view and bias by seeking alternative perspectives.

Indicator 1.1.8:  Demonstrate mastery of technology tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry.

·Select the most appropriate technologies to access and retrieve the needed information.

·Use various technologies to organize and manage the information selected.

·Create own electronic learning spaces by collecting and organizing links to information resources, working collaboratively, and sharing new ideas and understandings with others.

Indicator 1.1.9:  Collaborate with others to broaden and deepen understanding.

·Model social skills and character traits that advance a team’s ability to identify issues and problems and work together on solutions and products.

·Design and implement projects that include participation from diverse groups.

My point back then was whether any public librarian could read this list of expectations of what the high school graduate will soon know about information literacy and NOT question their own role in the library profession?

My point now is that if marginalized or non-existent school librarians are not the ones to achieve these 21st Century Skills literacy standards, who is? Classroom teachers? Those with math, science and social study degrees? During which class period? Homeroom? Study Hall? Without school librarians – IT WILL NOT HAPPEN!

The proof is in the short video below.

“First the governments eliminated the school librarian jobs and I did nothing, because………” Who will be left to speak for your librarian job?

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