Tag Archives: SLIS

Reports on “The Death of the Library”


It recently struck me after reading a couple of other Bloggers and articles that maybe I’m not alone in bewilderment over why there is no discussion of 21st Century Library issues, or action toward saving libraries in the face of nearly overwhelming 21st Century challenges. Actually, I’m not alone, but it does seem that others are buried in places that are hard to find. So, here are some other voices that are calling for dialog and action to save our libraries.

Academic Library Autopsy Report, 2050 by Brian T. Sullivan, The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 2, 2011

Library Renewal!, Library Renewal Blog, December 30, 2010

2010 Summary: libraries are still screwed by Eric Hellman, December 31, 2010 (be sure to listen to the videos)

Death of the Library. You think? The Animated Librarian Blog, December 2, 2010

Then as I continued searching for like-minded writers, I found that most of the questions about whether the library was becoming obsolete are from over 2-3 years ago. “Did I miss out on the conversation?” was my natural reaction. But it appears to me the conversation was short lived and all too retrospective, rather than in-depth and progressive, and certainly not even close to being predictive.

Will Sherman was one cited source who wrote 33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important. As near as can be determined it appears to have been written in 2007, during that 2-3 year period of cursory conversation about digitization, information providers and search sources, using 2006 and 2007 references.

IMHO, that article is typical of the lack of understanding today, since people are still citing it, that circumstances have changed significantly enough since then that the conversation about whether libraries are still relevant needs to continue. My Post A “Perfect Storm” Is Battering Libraries from December 21, outlines many of those factors that are making libraries VERY vulnerable to extinction.

• In 2007, the 21st Century Skills movement was not getting the attention of the majority of the librarian profession, but was very much limited to school and academic librarians. Today it is getting exposure to all, and it is improving the information literacy skills of Digital Native library customers.
• In 2007, technology like IBM’s super “question answering” computer was not known among librarians. Today it is, and will have significant impact on the reference sector of the profession.
• In 2007, most of the mobile communications technologies now available were not available to the general public. Today the smart phone and iPad are revolutionizing the way people access information.
• In 2007, the severe economic recession had not happened. Today it is impacting libraries across the nation, and raising the issue of the relevance of the public library.
• In 2007, library education programs were only slightly “behind” where the curriculum needed to be to produce librarians capable of leading their library into the 21st Century. Today they are WAY BEHIND, because their core curricula still have not changed to reflect 21st Century librarianship issues that new librarians face TODAY.

Technology and society are evolving exponentially, and the librarian profession is not even evolving. Bottom line is still that the profession as a whole is lagging behind where it needs to be in recognizing and addressing 21st Century Library issues in order to survive!

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21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Forecast


The information in the original Post has been included in Chapter 6 – Forecast of my new book – “Crash Course in Strategic Planning

“… forecast is the next step after the mission, values, and vision statements. It comes before the goals and objectives because this step is especially significant in the 21st Century environment due to the rapid changes and highly uncertain future that influence society and all libraries.

Simply put, forecast uses the facts of the present to determine what is most likely to occur in the future. … The mission and vision statements outline and describe why the library exists and what it wants to be, but real-world factors [analyzed] in adequate detail must be introduced into the strategic plan for it to be realistic and achievable.” [Pg. 33]

(Matthews, Stephen. Matthews, Kimberly. (2013). Crash course in strategic planning. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.)

Our book is now available from Libraries Unlimited. Visit their website for more information and your book orders.

Thank you for your interest and support of the 21st Century Library Blog.

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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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