Library School Curricula... IMHO
Based on Meredith
and some thoughts I've been mulling over. You know, Marine officers are required to successfully complete The Basic School
- it teaches infantry skills, basically - regardless of whether they are to become lawyers, supply officers, Naval aviators, or in fact infantry officers. All of the officers have to have undergraduate degrees with certain history, government, language, and other courses. They also have to go through follow on school for whatever their actual work will be. Granted, their life is much harder and it costs lives if officers can't lead -- but my point in mentioning this is that the Marines have a brand and a world-recognized image. If you meet a former Marine officer, you know that she can shoot, she can navigate, and she can lead -- regardless of whether she graduated TBS last year or a decade ago. They are -- across the board -- competent.
If you meet a librarian -- what can you say about her? You should be able to assume that she knows:
- how to search in online environments including various database interfaces, the web, DIALOG.
- how to do a reference interview (completely and correctly)
- how to evaluate and select materials
- what the basic standard references are and how to find out what references to use in a new and foreign field (think like Belay was Sheehy will be ?)
- how to design, plan, evaluate library services and programs!
- how to copy catalog, read a MARC record, understand the basics of cataloging
- how to learn and keep up
- how to market herself, her skills, and her library
- that its her duty to give back to the community of librarians by participating in professional associations, list-servs and other communities
(see also SLA's Core Competencies
There are many librarians who spend their entire careers happy as a Librarian I. They have no intention of moving up. In fact, many libraries are very flat in structure so this may be a good thing (as there's no where to go).
I disagree with a couple of Meredith's points:
1) ability to troubleshoot new technologies -- well this would be nice, but I've known some very effective librarians who tried really hard and just couldn't get the mindset for this. As long as at least one person each shift can do it... Troubleshooting really is a way of going about things -- it's not something you really learn in school but you can learn to follow a protocol (check to see if it's plugged in, try to reboot, try to get to an external web page...).
2) ability to easily
learn new technologies (emphasis mine) -- this is so not fair. I'm really fearless as anyone who knows me is aware -- I'll flip switches to see what they do, try all the links to see where they go -- but there are librarians who struggle every step of the way. They do it and they continue to fight the good fight, and they get there ... with lots of handwritten notes on crumpled pieces of paper that they carry with them everywhere... but they do get there. Saying someone should learn "easily" -- it's more a willingness to learn that's important. For some, each new thing fits into a pattern and a little experimentation will get the basics. For others, each new thing is an entirely new thing.
All librarians have to understand customer service. That should be beat into them every step of the way. It doesn't matter if you're a cataloger or keep up the systems, or what -- it's all about the customer/user/patron (whatever you're calling those people for whom you exist). Librarians need to talk to and with the community they serve whether that community is elementary school children, undergraduates, or research scientists. Even if they are in some of the behind the scenes positions they should demand user feedback and do usability testing.
Library managers must have follow on training (even at the Librarian II level or even if you're a solo librarian fresh out of school) on how to foster creativity, innovation, and how to lead. Technical report writing and proposal writing should be prerequisites for library school (what did you learn in junior English if not that?)
I hope to add to this later ... time to go exercise my customer service skills :)