Library On/Library Off

Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

Archive for the ‘On the MLIS – Library Education’ Category

Taking in the Spring + past classes

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I’ve finally committed to a course of action for spring classes – it’s really hard to do! GSLIS has a lot of fantastic classes, but thought I’d share what I’ll be taking, and therefore thinking and blogging about next Spring:

Systems Analysis and Management
Covers how to evaluate, select and manage the information systems that will be used in the daily operation of libraries and information centers. Includes the systems used by technical staff and the information consumers. Course will focus on information as a product. Attention is given to the operation of an organization as a whole and the impact of change on the integration of resources, work flow and usability. Formal methods for modeling systems, and industry practice techniques of analysis are used to address these problems and opportunities.

Instruction and Assistance Systems
Provides an introduction to instruction and assistance methods used in a variety of information systems including libraries, archives, museums, and electronic environments. Includes an overview of theoretical and applied research and discusses relevant issues and concepts. Students will have an opportunity to design and present an instruction or assistance program.

Current Topics in Collection Development (very excited to work the visiting professor, Dorothea Salo, whose excellent blog I follow)
Explores current topics and problems related to the development and management of library collections. Addresses changes in scholarly communication and the production and distribution of information resources that impact planning and policy for building, budgeting, and providing access to collections. Examines issues related to developing libraries that blend traditional and digital materials, including economic challenges, cooperative strategies, and specific selection and evaluation practices. Provides an overview of current digital library projects and products. Conducted as a seminar, will revolve around discussion of readings and case material collected by students. Class sessions will cover contemporary problems and trends in the field.

Foundations of Information Processing in Library & Information Science
Covers the common data and document processing constructs and programming concepts used in library and information science. The history, strengths and weaknesses of the techniques are evaluated in the context of our discipline. These constructs and techniques form the basis of applications in areas such as bibliographic records management, full text management and multimedia. No prior programming background is assumed.

And, just because I know you’re riveted – I thought I’d share what I have taken in the past semester. I think this is more for my family than you – hey, Mom! Here’s what I’m doing in school!

Foundations of Data Curation
Data curation is the active and on-going management of data through its lifecycle of interest and usefulness to scholarship, science, and education; curation activities and policies enable data discovery and retrieval, maintain data quality and add value, and provide for re-use over time. This course provides an overview of a broad range of theoretical and practical problems in this emerging field. Examines issues related to appraisal and selection, long-lived data collections, research lifecycles, workflows, metadata, legal and intellectual property issues.

Libraries, Information and Society
Explores major issues in the library and information science professions as they involve their communities of users and sponsors. Analyzes specific situations that reflect the professional agenda of these fields, including intellectual freedom, community service, professional ethics, social responsibilities, intellectual property, literacy, historical and international models, the socio-cultural role of libraries and information agencies and professionalism in general, focusing in particular on the interrelationships among these issues

Information Organization and Access
Emphasizes information organization and access in settings and systems of different kinds. Traces the information transfer process from the generation of knowledge through its storage and use in both print and non-print formats. Consideration will be given to the creation of information systems: the principles and practice of selection and preservation, methods of organizing information for retrieval and display, the operation of organizations that provide information services, and the information service needs of various user communities.

Interfaces to Information Systems
This course will provide an introduction to the following: Issues in Human Computer Interaction; Analysis of interfaces and their use; Synthesis: the design process as an engineering activity; Designing usable interfaces under constraints of resources; The rapid prototyping and evaluation cycle; Metacognition: learning how to learn and to operate in this domain as a reflective, continually improving professional. Considers how people use information systems such as on-line public access catalogues, CD-Roms, bibliographic databases, digital libraries, world wide web pages, web search engines, etc.


Written by nicolibrarian

November 14, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Is Library School Killing Your Mojo?

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Several weeks ago, I got a tweet saying “Library school is killing my mojo.” Last week I had coffee and discussed the never-ending balance between theory and practical skills in LIS programs…at least here in the U.S. I’ve even unearthed my copy of the NextGen Librarian’s Survival Guide to see if Rachel Singer Gordon had any advice on the matter.

Now I’ll admit – I’m only in my first semester of school. Yet I’m happy,  my mojo is in high gear, and yes, I get a little mooney-eyed at the mention of all things nerdy.

So what gives, beyond my own honeymoon period being especially bright? I’m curious…is library school killing YOUR mojo? (Or, if you’re out, did it?) Why? Do you think it has to do with the administration of your program, the tensions in the field, changes to the field,  misguided/misled expectations, theory, or something else? Or did you love library school? I’d love to have your comments below, or please email me at nicolibrarian {at} gmail {dot} com. No need to identify your program, and I’ll respect your anonymity by not divulging your name nor email if you drop me a line. I think it’s an issue worth exploring, if for no reason beyond articulating our discontent can help improve things, if not for ourselves, than hopefully for others.

Written by nicolibrarian

November 9, 2009 at 5:29 am

Libraries without Walls

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I was reading tonight in About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design, by Cooper, Reimann and Cronin about interaction design principles and patterns, and they quote (of all people), Antoine St. Exupery: “In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” Cooper, et al, are using it to support their notion that “one of the classic elements of good design is economy of form: using less to accomplish more.”

This struck a chord as I’ve been mulling over a conversation with a new friend about library school and the field of Library and Information Science (LIS), of which we are both students. She was voicing some discontent about whether the field of public librarianship needs a lot of the theory taught now in the MLIS programs in the U.S., when so little of it seems to be applicable to the actual practice of serving the wide array of public needs on desk in a traditional public library. I was mulling over my place in library school: while I have library experience, love the institution of the library, and would be happy to land in one, I’m primarily attending school to further my knowledge of the organization of information, information architecture, and information design. Needless to say, it’s hard to explain to my peers why I’m there, and even harder to explain to folks outside of the LIS community why library school, and what I hope to do.

The St. Exupery quote above made me realize that, far from fighting the information changes happening in my world, I love them. I like the change; I like the act of reduction, of boiling things down to their essence. I adore that now *everyone* has many capabilities to search and retrieve information, where once upon a time it was only librarians and a handful of other professional knowledge workers who could access information rapidly and across a wide variety of fields. And I realized that part of what I love about library school, this blog, and thinking/learning/studying information is that I like not that libraries are changing so drastically, but that in many ways, the walls have come down. We’re all living in a library – one without walls.

An example: Clay Shirky, a thinker of note, writes a lot about how technology and the Internet is changing the world. He writes about scale of technologies and economic shifts and, although neither he nor his critics might say this, I think he writes about the ideas the underpin LIS. In this post on Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing, Clay says:

“Travelocity doesn’t make everyone a travel agent. It undermines the value of being travel agent at all, by fixing the inefficiencies travel agents are paid to overcome one booking at a time. Weblogs fix the inefficiencies traditional publishers are paid to overcome one book at a time, and in a world where publishing is that efficient, it is no longer an activity worth paying for.”

Although I am an ardent supporters of libraries, a LIS graduate student, and I certainly recognize there are things libraries do beyond serve as a search engines, I can’t help but wonder if the paragraph could read – with apologies to Clay for the change:

The Internet doesn’t make everyone a librarian. It undermines the value of being a librarian at all, by fixing the inefficiencies librarians are paid to overcome finding things one at a time. Search engines fix the inefficiencies traditional information workers are paid to overcome, and in a world where information retrieval is that efficient, it is no longer an activity worth paying for.

Inherent in my edits above are some blind spots: libraries and their staff also serve as collectors, selectors, marketers, conveners, institutions of democracy/social justice/equality. And information workers – broadly writ – are needed more now than ever to sift through information, analyze it, and make sense of it.

So what? I’m not sure yet. I love my field because, largely, I feel it is embracing the massive changes and blending of disciplines that are happening. I love the kind of people attracted to LIS for their diverse backgrounds, and I love the ideas I’m exposed to in school. So in the spirit of these thoughts, I’ve renamed my blog, and look forward to continuing to explore this library without walls with you.

Written by nicolibrarian

November 9, 2009 at 5:10 am