WILL UNWOUND #376: “Fantasy Friday Crystal Ball Gazing – the Future of the M.L.S.”March 3, 2011
In my dotage I like to keep up with the younger generations. I have this illusion that hanging out with young people will make me less ancient.
For starters, I have my 3 year old granddaughter, Sophia, whose bedroom is stocked with 2 ithingys and a V-reader (her parents work in the computer industry). Whenever I pick up one of her shiny toys she instructs me to put them down so that I don’t “mess” them up. Then she feels sorry for me and says, “Too bad, Grandpa, that you grew up when the internet was in black and white.”
To keep up with the new blood coming into the library profession, I regularly read a spirited new blog with the inelegant name of Hack Library School. This is a blog by, for, and about LIS students. I love the verve and enthusiasm of the various posts and always come away feeling that our profession is in very good hands.
Today, however, I came away from Hack Library School with an empty feeling. The post, Speak Up, Advocating for the UW iSchool, gives grim news. Because of major budget cuts, the University of Washington is putting together a plan to gut one of our premier LIS schools. We all know from experience that gutting leads to eliminating.
What is happening at the University of Washington no doubt will happen in other traditional “face to face” library schools. Only the laptop schools, like San Jose, will survive. I have been predicting this for over a year. The traditional schools simply cannot compete with the laptop programs.
This begs the further question of how long will the laptop schools be able to hang on. The whole purpose of getting an M.L.S. is to get a J.O.B., and there are no J.O.B.’s out there. None. Nada. Kaput. You can read the obituaries all you want, but they are not replacing dead librarians. At best, they will put in a cheaper, “non-professional” person to do the dead guy’s job. I even hear that libraries in the Baffin Islands are laying off librarians in early March no less!
So, Unwinders, on this Fantasy Friday, I want you to do some more crystal ball gazing. Last week you did a great job of prophesying the future of the library. Today I want you to prophesy the future of librarian education. Two questions:
- How much longer will the LIS schools (traditional and laptop) last?
- With the decline of the M.L.S. as a professional credential, how will library administrators staff their libraries?