In a post published today, Nicole Engard, from What I Learned Today, discusses the problem of keeping up with the library profession. She writes:
I’ve been talking to a lot of new people lately – students and librarians alike – and in those talks, something has become very clear to me – no one is teaching people the simple techniques to keep up with our profession. I’m not talking about the power user style of keeping up (subscribing to hundreds of feeds), I’m talking about the basics of library journals. In my program I have only had one professor encourage us to read American Libraries (she even emailed us the online version every time it came out). I had one professor point us to digital library journals (in my digital libraries class) and others have pointed us to the databases where we can find library specific articles. What about the journals most libraries subscribe to?
I wonder if this particular skill is even considered to be important in terms of library education. I have to agree with Nicole that I haven’t encountered much at all about current awareness in my time at library school. I’m not saying it isn’t there at all. If I recall, it seemed to be something that was not explicitly stated, but was encouraged in a couple of classes. In these classes, the professor and the students often shared links to library news or articles that they thought were important. This professor also required us to subscribe to several listservs (that I am now still subscribed to – ARGH!!! – I’m getting so tired of listservs). Some professors add journal titles that are relevant to the class on the syllabus. Again, this encouraged keeping up in what I would consider to be a passive manner – and mostly related to the actual course material rather than libraries and librarianship in general. There is definitely room for a more explicit statement about keeping up.
So, I’m trying to decide – does this actually belong as part of library science curriculum? I can see faculty thinking that they have enough to teach to students. I can also see them thinking that this is a basic skill that students should already have – and realistically, can learn easily on their own with some guidance. However, there does need to be guidance. There is definitely a need for a basic primer which could include a list of standard journals, listservs, blogs, websites, etc. that faculty feel are critical (using library blogs as a way to stay current has never been mentioned in school). This wouldn’t necessarily need to be part of class, but possibly part of a package or orientation given to all students. Faculty in specific classes could add to it with specific information tailored to specific subjects. If such lists were updated regularly and made public, librarians who have been out of school for awhile could use these resources to update their own knowledge. Library schools need to set the expectation that students keep current with news of the profession.
Some information on keeping up with the profession (and some blog posts on how not to be overwhelmed too):
- If I had just 15 minutes a day – Information Wants To Be Free
- Keep On Keeping Up– ACRLog
- Keeping Up When You Don’t Have Time – The Shifted Librarian
- A little note on reading and keepin up – The Gypsy Librarian
- Steven Bell’s Keeping Up Web Site
- You need to keep up with the disciplines – The Gypsy Librarian
- On information overload (slightly ranty – be warned!) – The Scattered Librarian
- I’ve Got The Bandwagon Blues– Library 2.0: An Academic’s Perspective
- Librarians Keeping Up and Making Time – Library Revolution
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Keeping up is a commitment that we should all take the time and energy to make. It really isn’t hard. Unfortunately, it is the easiest thing to let slide when work and life get busy.