Daily Archives: January 5, 2007

The Value Of Keeping Up With Disciplines

Here is a guest post from Neal Baker, Information Technology and Reference Librarian at Earlham College. Neal used our tip sheet to suggest that ACRLog needs to consider sharing more information about developments within specific disciplines. We thank Neal for contributing a post that shares his thoughts on this issue:

If librarians are educators, it’s vital to know the debates that affect educators. ACRLog is an excellent venue for coverage of some topics, but it could improve its treatment of academic disciplines. Here’s an example:

A report from a panel of top foreign language professors advocating revolutionary changes in their disciplines was previewed to attendees at the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention last week. Sponsored by the MLA, the pending report urges language departments to abandon their emphasis on literature in favor of history, politics, and economics. The resultant controversy will shape debate over the next few years, but sadly, most of us remain unaware.

Knowledge of the MLA report will help me to keep librarianship central to the Earlham College curriculum, and relevant liaison librarians everywhere can likewise benefit. I can first ask questions raised by the report with faculty, thereby demonstrating an awareness of disciplinary concerns. Second, the report gives me another opportunity to suggest resources that allow faculty to address the report’s concerns. For example, instead of assigning students to research Heian poetry criticism, Japanese professors could use Skype and a speakerphone to discuss politics with Tokyo contacts. French professors could assign students to listen to Europe 1 podcasts as background for class discussion. With the MLA report as a context, such “exotic” resources acquire more relevance.

To remain central to the curriculum, we need to prioritize our knowledge of debates within the curriculum. Do you have suggestions for how ACRLog might do more to bring those debates to our attention?