Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#ALISE2015 : Opening Plenary Session: The space between us: a conversation with association leadership about the future of LIS education

Panelists (key LIS association leaders):
  • Tula Giannini
  • Sandy Hirsch
  • Clara Chu
  • Ronald Larsen
  • Barbara Di Eugenio
  • Courtney Young
  • Samantha Hastings
  • Amy Cooper Cary
  • Diane Rasmussen Pennington
Hirsch (ASIS&T):
  • Silo-ization on of our field. 
  • Associations are experiencing declining memberships.
  • Current initiatives:
    • People from academia and practice. More from academia.  
    • Strategic planning initiative for the association.
    • Want to broaden and attract a wider range of people, including students.
    • Next conference theme geared to bridge the divide between practitioners and academics.
    • Task force on the perception of what information professionals do.
    • Engaging in new initiatives to communicate what our field does.
    • Globalization of our field - eliminating artificial boundaries.
Chu (ALISE):
  • What can we (the association's) be doing together?
  • Need to open up our vision/perspective.
Larsen (iSchools):
  • Purpose of the iSchools
  • Emergence of the iSchools in 2003
  • Currently 59 members with universities on four continents
  • Eights years of job posting trends from (non-scientific)
    • In traditional employment areas, the trends are flat or declining
    • In the data area, trends seem to show some growth
    • There is a decrease in the "librarian" job postings, although those jobs could be advertised differently.
    • Computer and IS degrees - there is a workforce demand
    • For LIS - more supply than demand
Di Eugenio (representing computer science):
  • Computer science is not programming.  Programming is a tool.  It is a way of solving problems.  Computational thinking.
  • Inherently interdisciplinary.
  • Natural language processing is pervasive in our tools/society.
  • Computer science is accredited.  
Young (ALA):
  • ALA has two hats: accreditation and professional development
  • ALA members put a high value on ALA accreditation and the quality standards it provides.  They also value legislative advocacy.
  • The revised standards are going to ALA Council during this midwinter meeting.
  • Librarians are affected by rapid and disruptive changes, as is LIS education.
  • ALA wants to make the profession better for everyone, including practitioners, students, and academic programs.
  • ALA is a collaborator, like what it is doing with SJSU on ecourses (online course).
  • Currently doing a strategic plan.
Cooper Cary (SAA):
  • Archives are not a silo
  • Archival education has its own challenges
  • Expectations in job postings: digital/technical skills are increasingly important
  • More online delivery of coursework
  • Archival degrees are in high demand. Job market is shifting.  {Addendum, 1/31/2015: I asked Cooper Cary about this, because I thought she had contradicted herself. What she meant was that more people are interested in archival degrees.  However, there are not many traditional jobs available.  Those interested in archives need to think more broadly about the skills they need to acquire. For example, having more digital skills could make the person more marketable.}
  • Drop in program enrollments
  • Theoretical preparations vs. Practical training - bifurcation 
  • Students need practical experience
  • Traditional jobs are close to saturation.  
  • Students need to be coached to think creatively and broaden themselves to be more marketable.
  • The job market needs to tell programs what shift is needed in education.
  • SAA is 25% student members.
Rasmussen Pennington (CAIS):
  • CAIS focuses on information science research.  A Canadian association, but an international association.
  • 8 ALA accredited LIS programs in Canada.
    • Focused on the information professionals.
    • Web sites talk more about information than libraries.
    • Again a bifurcation - traditional and new areas
    • The expectations of students who have no library experience vs those with library experience, who may understand the breadth of skills, etc., needed.
    • What skills will set a student apart?
    • Do we need to think about who we are recruiting?  Do we need to recruit students who already have skills that will make them competitive?
    • How are our schools/programs different?  Do prospective students truly care about those differences?
  • What are you going to do next? (Ken Haycock)
  • Does accreditation need to broaden to include more "fields"? (Haycock)
  • We need to remember that there are different viewpoints and not focus on just one. (Bharat Mehra)
  • Reaching out to the Computer Research Association and computer science departments.  CRA advocates in DC. Computer science ha smoked more into areas that are familiar with us.  (Larsen)
  • Economically speaking, we're all in competition with each other. (Suzy from Tennessee)
  • The perspectives of those who teach LIS may also need to involve and change. (Suzy from Tennessee)
  • Need to consider the PhDs that we're producing.  They want to teach.  Do we need that many new teachers? (Suzy from Tennessee)
  • Could we band together on advocacy?  (Hirsch)
  • We need to broaden what employers think and who they want to hire. This is a place where we could work together.  (Hirsch)
  • Social justice ist thread through everything that we do.  (Someone also from Tennessee)
  • Coalition to Advance Learning - libraries, archives and museums.  Funded through IMLS and Gates Foundation through 2015.  What can we leverage from the three different areas in terms of professional development.  First course will be on project management. Check their web site for more information.  (Chu)
  • We need to address diversity across our fields.  (Chu)
  • Trying to build collaborative connections.  For this purposes of accreditation, these alliances don't matter and may hurt. (Interim director at Rhodes Island)
  • Inclusion is different in different associations,e.g., need for women in computer science.  (John Dove, former CEO of Credo)
  • Could there be collaboration in terms of education best practices? Could we dive in for a focused period of time on a problem?  (John Dove, former CEO of Credo)
  • We need to question ourselves about the masters degree being the only accredited degree.  Some of the needs are for people with specific BS/BA degrees. We ignore that library tech degrees and the people with those degrees.  There are different levels of education that we need to acknowledge.  (Nora, UNC)
  • One group that is not here are (scholarly) publishers and editors.
  • All have the information item cycle in common.  

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