WILL UNWOUND #467: “The Growing Divide Between Libraries and Graduate Library and Information Schools”June 16, 2011
In the last few weeks the issue of graduate library school has come up over and over again in a variety of contexts:
- Context #1: Should graduate library schools make an effort to restrict their enrollment to the prevailing job market? Or put another way, before a student takes out a significant loan should the library school issue fair warning that a certain percentage of the enrollees (whatever that percentage is) will not get jobs because of the shrinking library labor market?
- Context #2: Are graduate library schools distancing themselves from the public library market by becoming too ivory towered in their approach to training future practitioners? Overwhelmingly public libraries are dealing with an increase in two major areas: children’s services and the provision of very basic computer services for adults. Do these areas of service require a battery of courses in something as theoretical as infometrics? In other words have graduate library schools become irrelevant to the real world of public or school library work?
- Context #3: Why have graduate library schools not forged closer ties with working libraries and focused their research on projects that can actually have practical value for libraries?
- Context #4: Because on-line education is now the dominant delivery approach for graduate library school is too much emphasis being placed on the library as an on-line data center accessed from the homes of patrons?
- Does graduate library school have any real value anymore other than as a place that issues union cards? This line of thought basically says that if you require a master’s degree for entry into the trade of librarianship it automatically becomes a profession that merits a higher pay scale. Any validity here?
In summary, what I am sensing from your comments over the past month is that there is a growing divide between theoreticians and practitioners. Personally, I think that this is a very serious problem because if we are to grow as a profession the graduate library schools need to function as our think tanks. Without them librarianship becomes just another job.
What say you? This is a tough one. To help you along, Boris is serving free shots of Jameson.