09/14/2010 10 Comments
I recently sat in on a discussion in which it was suggested that a practicum be required in all graduate library science programs. Now, I certainly understand the benefits of practical experience to emergent librarians and library managers alike. However, a father of two and a full-time text editor, I know how such a requirement is simply not possible for many students. Furthermore, can the school and participating libraries really be expected to facilitate so many students in practicum? Not likely. I have heard stories from Chicago-area students who applied for a practicum program but were turned away. Some savvy students locate libraries with a steady need for volunteers and strike a deal between the library and the graduate department. Others resolve themselves to graduating with no practical experience.
I suggest library schools do require a minimal number of practicum hours for students with no library experience. Students who work or have worked in libraries, museums, archives, or some other area of LIS may claim exemption from the requirement. Students might complete hours at one or multiple locations and, to some extent, at their convenience. Still, I suspect that, in some areas, the inadequate number of facilities available will continue to leave some otherwise diligent students out in the cold.