Weekly Meeting Week 9 Report Winter Term 2020

This week, Emika, Cece, and Valerie met to discuss two articles “Librarians Put Their Trust in Patrons” and “A Master’s Degree in LIS: Weighing Our Educational Standards.” 

“Librarians Put Their Trust in Libraries” is an article written by Jennifer Howard for The Chronicle for Higher Education that discusses the current trend in libraries to become more service-oriented and to have patrons determine the collecting interests of the library in a more direct way. We were intrigued by the idea that there are some libraries that no longer have that many patrons, so they are working on having more of an online presence. From this, we asked ourselves if we thought that as time goes by, will we see more of this as technology evolves and students begin to take more online courses, particularly on a commuter campus? We asked this question because we know that there are some librarians that work for online schools in which their students could be living remotely, so in those particular positions, there might not be a physical library that is needed. On the other hand, we also brought up how having a physical library at Carleton is important for the students here because most of the students live on campus and would need a place to refer to for academic work. 

In addition to wondering about the needs of online vs. on-site patrons, we were also curious about how this shift in library policies affects the role of libraries as service-oriented institutions and if they will be able to maintain their role as cultural memory institutions. Howard discusses this concern in her article using the example of the Welch Medical Library at Johns Hopkins University. While it is highly unlikely that Carleton will ever face a mandate to cut 80% of its print collection, how does the library aim to maintain this balance between serving patrons and preserving information? We then discussed how this balance might differ between kinds of libraries, such as academic libraries and small public libraries. A small public library is likely constantly refreshing its collections, and Valerie said that the public library that she used to volunteer for would frequently cull the books that no one had checked out in a certain period of time. Shifting back towards academic libraries, we wondered how much funding might play into a given library’s position along the spectrum between meeting patron’s current needs and preserving cultural memory, in the sense that bigger universities might be able to afford large off-campus storage facilities and other preservation resources.  

“A Master’s Degree in LIS: Weighing Our Educational Standards” was written by a librarian Carissa Hansen that discusses the necessity of a Master’s degree in LIS for librarians. We thought that requiring librarians to only earn a Bachelor’s degree makes some sense, but we generally felt that a Master’s degree would be necessary to maintain the knowledge and subject base required for the profession. It might be better to acquire general skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving skills first and then work on professional librarian skills. 

We were also curious to know how librarians think about the issue, especially whether what they learned in library schools have helped them or not. Considering that some countries such as the United Kingdom and Japan do not require a Master’s degree in LIS, the United States has a unique system and it might have to do with what type of skills the field expects professionals to have or education systems. 

One thought on “Weekly Meeting Week 9 Report Winter Term 2020

  1. Cece, Valerie and Emika-

    Thank you for your thoughtful discussion. Many schools are offering more online learning, and this is especially good for students who have full time jobs and other commitments, and so attending school online may work better for them. I too wonder about how much this trend will grow. Last spring I met a couple of librarians from an online for profit school and they actually practiced the profession in a very similar way as we do here. They have an office they can go to but do most of their work form home. From home they work on lib-guides and provide online library instruction session via video. Their immediate librarian community is smaller, but it seems to work well for them.

    And, about the library degree!!! There are many things in the profession that need to be learned, and though some of it can be learned on the job, attending library school provides an organized structure to understand the various library systems (cataloguing, reference, collection development) to an extend that a job may not always afford, since you have to come into a librarian job with some kind of experience and point of reference. However, I have seen many schools that will hire librarians who have Masters or phD’s in other fields other than librarianship. Actually, the library director at St. Olaf has a very interesting and unique profession and she is not trained as a librarian but more as an IT director. Let me know if you want to interview her and I can put you in touch with her.

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