NCSU Chancellor Supports Information Literacy

It’s always encouraging when non-librarians, writing in non-library journals, give a plug for information literacy. So I’ll continue to pass them on when I spot them. I found this one in a column by James L. Oblinger, Chancellor of North Carolina State University, that appears in the latest issue of EDUCAUSE Review. Titled “Ensuring Students’ Success” this column discusses those skills college students need to succed both in and beyond the higher education institution. He writes:

Their information universe is more often the Internet than the library. What they must learn from us is how to identify problems, define needed resources, evaluate sources of information, analyze what they find, and respect intellectual property. Developing this information literacy is good preparation for students’ future as effective, discriminating, lifelong learners.

It’s reassuring to read a high-level academic administrator who is enthusastic – or at leasts understands – about information literacy. Let’s hope the message spreads.

And, You Thought It Was Just Us

It’s become pretty commonplace to discuss the pace of change in libraries and in the academic library profession – how quick it’s coming, how significant it is for us to manage effectively, etc. – so it’s nice (I suppose) to see that it’s not just us.

This morning’s IHE has an article on a new book on the faculty profession that “argues that we are experiencing ‘a revolution’ in academic life that will be equal in its lasting significance to such events as the importation of the research university model to the United States in the late 19th century or the “massification” of higher education after World War II.” Among the changes to the profession that the authors note are the recruitment and retention patterns, which, if memory serves, are among our “Top Issues,” as well.

For those who want the whole story, you can find The American Faculty: The Restructuring of Academic Work and Careers at your favorite vendor.

Talk of change has been popping up all over for 10 (20?) years in libraryland, but what this book should help us all to see is that talking about “change” is not simply a management fad, nor is it simply about innovations in technology. The library and the university are among the oldest and most stable social institutions the world has ever seen, and, for both, “the pace of change has accelerated dramatically.”

The question for all of us is how well we deal with it.

OSU-Mansfield Librarian Cleared Of Harassment Charge

Several days ago ACRLog posted a story about charges of harassment filed against a reference librarian named Scott Savage over controversial books he suggested for the institution’s common book reading experience for freshman. On Friday, April 21 The Columbus Dispatch reported that OSU investigator T. Glenn Hill found that the charges of harassment had no merit. Savage was quoted saying “I was making a point. I want us to be aware of our biases.” Now exonerated, Savage is filing a complaint against his accusers.

The several other reports I read on this incident seemed to be in favor of Savage. Although many considered his choice of books reprehensible, they thought the filing of harassment charges against him were even worse. Perhaps his motives and methods were questionable, but others defended Savage’s right to express his opinion and choices – and that in higher education we should be free do to so without fear of becoming a target.

The Professional Doctorate – Lessons for LIS from CID?

The Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate is an interesting project by which programs in fields including Chemistry, English, and Education have engaged in a re-examination of their models for doctoral education. Several participating faculty members have presented their ideas in the recently-published Envisioning the Future of Doctoral Education (2006), but a brief essay with possible significance for LIS education can be found in the current issue of Educational Researcher: Reclaiming Education’s Doctorates: A Critique and a Proposal.

Without going too deeply into the argument, the authors suggest that doctoral education in the field of education (my field, as some of you know) has been “crippled” by the lack of clear distinction between doctoral study aimed at producing education researchers and faculty members (Ph.D.) and that aimed at producing educational leaders in the practice setting (and scholarly practitioners) (Ed.D.). They present an interesting model for what distinct and vital doctoral programs aimed at these different audiences might look like.

Without putting too fine a point on it, their argument about how doctoral study in education as currently conceived does not always serve scholarly practitioners and leaders “in the field” certainly seems applicable to the Ph.D. in LIS (which an increasing number of people who I consider to be excellent examples of the scholarly practitioner seem to be avoiding in favor of doctoral degrees in management studies, higher education administration, and instructional technology). LIS was not one of the fields selected for study by the CID (although I have suggested it to Lee Shulman as something he might consider), but I’d love to see our discussion of the limitations of formal LIS study for those of us in the field taken to the next level through a formal review such as that which the CID has afforded some of these other fields.

So, a “professional practice doctorate” for library leaders? What would it look like, and how would it differ from the current model for doctoral education in LIS? Do we have what Shulman calls a “signature pedagogy” (that’s a tricky one!)?

Why No Academic Librarianship Specialty Rankings

You probably heard by now that U.S. News & World Report recently issued its latest graduate school rankings. The big news was that for the first time in quite a few years U.S. News & World Report updated the library and information science program rankings. At their site, U.S News & World Report provides only the top three rankings in a variety of categories. Through the friend of a friend affiliated with a library school I was able to get access to the full top ten rankings. Truth be told, there were few surprises. Most of the top programs back in 1999, when the rankings were last done, were still the top programs with perhaps some spot shifting.

What I found more surprising was the choice of the specializations selected for rankings. They included archives, digital preservation, health, information systems, law librarianship, school library media, and services for children and youth. Those are useful specializations to rank, but why law, medical and school, and no academic specialty? After all, there are plenty of prospective students interested in academic librarianship who might like to know which schools have the top-ranked programs – for what it’s worth. Or can it be there is a perception that there is little interest in academic librarianship when compared to these other specialty areas? I’m not sure what explains the omission of academic library specialties, but I suspect the real reason is that the majority of the library schools don’t really have much in the way of academic library programs. My guess, is that like the graduate school where I teach a course, there is little more than a single course on academic librarianship – and little faculty recognition or support for academic librarianship. Since the rankings are based on votes from Deans, directors, and faculty, and academic librarianship is hardly on their radar screens, it’s perhaps no surprise that academic librarianship gets little respect in these rankings.

Do we care? If we do, and we want to promote academic librarianship – or at least give those expressing an interest in our field a better idea of which LIS programs offer the most support and educational opportunity for careers in academic librarianship – perhaps an ACRL section or committee can take on the task of developing rankings – or at least more information about educational opportunities for academic librarians at the LIS schools. Possible ranking criteria? Is there a dedicated course in academic librarianship? What are the qualifications of the instructor? Is there an advisor with academic experience (within the last 5 years or so) for students interested in academic librarianship? Are there specialized internship opportunities in academic libraries? What are past employment rates for grads in academic librarianship? How do recent grads of each program rate the schools on academic librarianship? Is there an ACRL student chapter? Does the school work with the regional ACRL chapter on programming? That’s just a start. Why wait another five or six years to see if U.S News & World Report adds an academic librarianship specialty next time they decide to rank LIS programs. Heck, we can do this on our own.