Friday, December 7, 2007

The Curious Nature of Education for Librarianship

There doesn't seem to be a lot out there on the background and development of education for librarianship (a word that Blogger's spellchecker doesn't recognize, by the way), though admittedly I've only just started looking.

This was inspired by two things: I recently finished and submitted a review of a book on the history of information professions in Britain, and I have a question that has been a source of longstanding puzzlement: why do we get Master's degrees, anyway?

As it turns out, that's a fairly complex question, even though the Master's degree in Library Science is a relatively recent development. Its facets include the nature of education for the professions in general, the professional status of librarianship itself, the longstanding and occasionally acrimonious split between librarianship and information science, the gendering of the profession, and, of course, politics. You can't get human endeavor without also getting politics.

Accordingly, this might be a bit much for a blog post, or a series of blog posts. For the nonce, however, this is where my thoughts on the subject will appear. More to come.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Writing the reference vision statement

I'm starting to see the value of vision and mission statements. I'm not sure what that says about me, but it's where we've ended up in discussing the future of library reference. If you've been paying attention over the last few years, you're aware of the conversation going on in the profession in general (I'm not sure whether it's a debate yet, but it might be getting there).

The gist of it is that reference isn't dead, but the reference desk might be. There are a lot of suggestions about what should takes its place, but they tend to be long on generalities and short on specifics.

Try this as a thought experiment: if the reference desk had never existed, what might reference today look like instead?

And once you've done that, contemplate this: what might it look like in the future?

Then, take that and turn it into a vision statement.

That's what we're doing.