Monthly Archives: May 2010

Changes in Our Librarian Education for the 21st Century

My research has led me to collaborate with a local school district that is the only one in my state that has attempted to implement the “21st Century Skills” model, developed by The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, in education. Their library media center director told me that the vast majority of teachers are entering the profession without basic technology skills to implement in their classrooms. Fresh out of teacher education programs, they know less about technology than their students, and yet they are expected to teach Digital Natives how to think creatively using skills that are still evolving with technologies they are not adept with to solve future problems not yet identified. SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY!

This graphic demonstrates the fundamental disconnect between teachers and students in today’s average classroom.
21st Century Education Disconnect

This YouTube video below – “Partnership for 21st Century Skills: Teaching 21st Century Learners” – is an overview of what schools of teacher education are proposing. In my opinion, this education reform will drastically change future generations of students who are the library customers of the future, for whom libraries must adapt.

One thing that has become obvious is that schools of library and information science (SLIS) are lagging well behind any movement toward 21st Century librarianship. ALA and PLA are not addressing the topic on any significant scale. The limited information that does exist is basically “Library2.0” technologies that lack any comprehensive theory for application, or cohesive direction toward specific goals. I have found no prominent SLIS with 21st Century anything in their curriculum. Some incorporate Library2.0 type topics in some courses, but, again, no coherent approach to a 21st Century librarianship concept. There is no vision of 21st Century librarianship where it really counts!

A colleague public library director told me that she recently hired an MLS graduate from a prominent SLIS and one of her first questions was; “Do I have to answer every reference question from patrons?” And, the young woman has no technology skills beyond her generation’s norm, and no understanding about implementation of technology in a public library. It appears that SLIS are sending MLS graduates into our profession equally as unprepared as school teachers to apply basic technology skills in whatever library environment they choose to begin. School media specialists and academic librarians are at the forefront of these changes in librarianship, but public librarians have much to learn to catch up to where they need to be regarding 21st Century librarianship. I am in a unique position to observe what community public library staff are facing in terms of technology adoption and application. They are much less technologically literate than most of their customers.

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.

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21st Century Patrons – Revisited

Last February I published a series of posts about 21st Century Patrons, and defined three categories of patrons: Traditional, Digital Immigrant, and Digital Native. I also presented a chart of the three categories in 21st Century Library Patrons, and an embedded YouTube video of Jason Dorsey, the “Gen Y Guy”, at 21st Century Librarian Profession with his entertaining demonstration of the generation differences.

As Jason stated – “If you try to stick everybody into a box, eventually they won’t fit. What I’m giving you are simply clues.” (paraphrased) And, that’s all I’m attempting to do here is give librarians clues to their patrons in the 21st Century, because this is the first time we’re seeing youngsters who know more about technology than adults, and expect that technology in their life. If that does NOT include the public or school or academic library, then they will go elsewhere to satisfy their information wants and needs.
Here are two more graphic illustrations about library patrons.

The three categories of 21st Century library patrons.

The correlation of three categories of 21st Century library patrons to generations (US).

As with any categorization effort, there is significant generalizing, and not every Great Generation patron will be a “Traditional” patron, and not every Gen Y patron will be a Digital Native patron. The categorizations are intended to represent the era in which the individual matured, and what technology was available during their development, or afterward (in some cases like Boomers and Gen X), and their probable technology interests based on that factor.

I’m interested in your experiences, and whether evidence bears out my assertions.

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“21st Century Skills & Utah Libraries” Presentation

For those of you following this 21st Century Library topic, the Utah Library Association 2010 Conference is being held this week in St. George, UT, May 13th and 14th. I, and my boss Utah State Librarian Donna Jones Morris, will be presenting a conference session entitled “21st Century Skills & Utah Libraries” on Friday May 14th at 1:30pm MDT – which will be broadcast LIVE on Wimba, courtesy of the University of Utah.

Details are listed at the ULA Conference Website at: and repeated below.

Virtual Conference, May 13-14, 2010
At the conference this year we will be broadcasting some of the presentations live via a Wimba interface. All you’ll need to see the presentation is a good Internet connection and a web browser. Following the conference an archive will be available here on the ULA website.

Schedule of Events to be shown live via Wimba
Friday, May 14, 2010
o 1:30-4pm – “21st Century Skills & Utah Libraries” (Presenters: Donna Jones Morris, Steve Matthews, Panelists Gina Millsap, Janene Bowen, Mike Freeman)

Browser Set-up
To see a session live (consult schedule for dates and times) visit:

You may be asked to allow pop-ups for this site or url or site number, please do.

Use the “participant login” – your username can be whatever you like.

If your audio and internet connection speed are fine, there’s no need to run the wizard – there’s a small link below to bypass this.

Once in a session, you can resize the video or PowerPoint windows.

If you would like to send a question to the presenter at the Q&A time, please type it in the comments box on the bottom right of the Wimba window and the Wimba administrator for that session will try to get it to the presenter (who will repeat the question before answering). Since this is a trial run for the ULA conference, we can’t guarantee your questions will be answered due to technical, time or other unforeseen issues, but we’ll give it our best shot!

(Note: if you click the “talk button”, your comment/question will NOT be broadcast to the speaker or attendees of the session, but it may be recorded in the final archive of the presentation, so please avoid the “talk button”.)

I hope to greet you all there! The PPT and archived presentation will be linked here next week.

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