Poll: Most Valuable Areas of Study

I suspect no graduate program is without its critics. That can be both good and bad. On one hand, institutional criticism suggests students and new professionals are eager for challenging study in the most relevant applicable areas. Unfortunately, it often suggests that graduate programs are deficient in too many important areas. Perhaps no professional degree is met with as much scrutiny from its own candidates as the graduate library degree. Particularly in the last few years, as the field has negotiated tremendous issues of technological applications, Google, ebooks, and funding crises, current and former library students have created a patchwork of curricular assessment that seems to hang in the ether over Libraryland like a giant storm system. Whether anonymous complaints or constructive collaboration of blogsites like Hack Library School, there seems to be no shortage of suggested alterations to the accepted library school course catalog.

Some areas of knowledge and skill I find particularly useful to current librarians:

  • Social media and public profiles
  • Usability
  • Marketing
  • Programs, partnerships, and outreach
  • Fundamentals of semantic web
  • Instruction
  • Research methods and information evaluation
  • Print and digital collections

There are other great assets, for sure–writing skill, management savvy, special collections, and digital media tools, to name a few. But given the way most programs are currently structured, I’m interested to see what people think are the most valuable areas. Which courses should be required of the MLIS and which should be left to the student’s election?

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About Steven V. Kaszynski
librarian, editor, contributor

5 Responses to Poll: Most Valuable Areas of Study

  1. Melissa K. says:

    Honestly, I think cataloging could be an elective. For students on a public library tract, collection management (including the ever increasing demand for e-Books) should be mandatory. As I’ve heard from a smart husband of mine numerous times–librarians need to do a better job of marketing their wares! I think a marketing/outreach and community class would be great as well.

    • With budget limitations, community demographics, and other related concerns, I tend to agree that collection management should be among required courses, particularly for public librarians.

  2. janholmquist says:

    “The concept of the library as a place for learning” – working with values to able to go out there and move libraries forward.

    • Jan, I’d really like to explore the pedagogy involved here for students on the public librarian tract. Particularly in a society that undervalues its school libraries, in which students must rely on the public library, I agree that librarians should seek their role in education and to strengthen partnerships among students, educators, and their schools.

  3. staceyt says:

    information seeking behaviours are probably the most useful thing i ever learned.

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