At the recent participatory meeting in New York City, one of the participants said:
“Ten years ago people went to schools to get the cutting edge. Today the cutting edge is everywhere, in libraries, business, all over the web.”
I found this a very interesting comment, especially considering that I have also heard from many students tht they want more Library 2.0 and current technology taught. So my questions to you:
1. Do you think this is true…have LIS programs lost the cutting edge? Did they ever have it?
2. If indeed the locus of control for innovation has shifted from LIS programs out to practice and industry, how should schools respond?
2 Replies to “Where is the Cutting Edge?”
LIS classes will only be as cutting edge as those teaching them. Like the library profession at large, I think LIS schools are struggling with professionals who are stuck in the past or unwilling to work with technology. Core digital library courses at SU have been great, but core LIS classes have thus far in my experience been lacking in rich discussion of technology. In reference class last semester, virtual reference was barely taught and roundly disparaged when discussed.
In library school, innovation should also occur outside the classroom. SU, for example, appears to have little cooperation between the iSchool and Bird Library. Additionally, few technical resources, (such as a sandbox server environment) are available to students. Changing these two facts might lead to more innovation. I find it interesting that some of the most cutting edge library work is being done at a university without a library school: NCSU.
The digital library services class I’m teaching at Syracuse (IST759) is designed to meet this exact need. The goal is to provide a sandbox server environment with open source library programs such as Koha, EPrints, content management systems, etc. and allow the students to demonstrate their skill and practice working in such an environment. It will be interesting to see how this semester.
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