Thursday, July 27, 2006

Article: Developing a Digital Libraries Education Program

In the July/August issue of D-Lib is this article about "a full-day workshop aimed at digital library professionals, researchers, and educators to cover prominent issues surrounding digital libraries education" hosted by the Indiana University Bloomington (IU) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). For those of us who teach digital libraries and our students, we are constantly wondering if the right information is being covered and in the right amount of depth. According to the article, the student panelists understood their degree work to be a beginning, not an end.
Ms. Richmond noted that she feels familiar with many DL issues and the terminology, and she feels capable of holding an intelligent conversation with someone in working in the digital library area. However, because so much of her knowledge is theoretical, she is unsure of her ability to apply it immediately in a job setting. All of the student panelists noted that they will need significant on-the-job training despite the rigor of their academic preparation.
Here are some things from the article that really stand out to me (all, of course, taken out of context):
  • In one survey, it was found 'Markup languages' was the most desired current IT knowledge, while knowledge of 'Content Management Systems' was identified to be the most important knowledge that will be required in the future. 'Metadata' was identified to be most important current content management knowledge and 'Digital Preservation' was projected to be the area most likely to grow in importance with time. The topic of 'Legal Issues in Digital Libraries' was pointed out as the most important and most likely to grow in importance under the area of digital library organizational management.

  • It was pointed out that building systems and managing them probably are essential parts of becoming a successful digital librarian.

  • ...Ms. Richmond noted that digital libraries were not mentioned in any of her non-digital library classes, leaving the students to draw their own conclusions about the relationship between the class material and the digital library world.

  • Ms. Schlosser noted that faculty emphasize theory along with a small amount of practical implementation, but not enough practical implementation for students to apply that knowledge to real-world tasks. She felt, however, that this is a conscious decision on the part of faculty, because technologies change and people have varying technical expertise.
I don't know who attended this conference (like perhaps faculty and program directors from other I-Schools), but I hope that the lessons learned from this conference do not fall on deaf ears.

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