Friday, February 17, 2006

Raised by Wolves?

There's an essay in Library Journal by James G. Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University in New York entitled "Raised by Wolves: Integrating the New Generation of Feral Professionals into the Academic Library".

He worries that too many professional positions in libraries are being filled by those without an MLS or who earned the MLS in distance programs, which he feels fail to socialize students to the profession. But he also seems to think these ravenous, uncivilized, unconventional librarians will change things in ways that may be positive. He concludes:

Library professionals prepared and socialized outside the traditional MLS education channel have been “raised by wolves.” They may fit effectively or be creatively disruptive in the transformed libraries we are seeking to create. Either way, they are needed for their important contributions to academic library innovation and mutability. They will grow in their influence and relevance to the future academic library.
I'm not sure that traditional library science programs - which are often based on practical needs and are relatively short in duration (usually one year as opposed to, say, a three-year law school program) ever were that devoted to "taming" students, or that the new access to distance education is really going to bring in "feral" werewolf-like students who chew the furniture and demand to do things differently. To my mind the changes in the profession are more profoundly disruptive than the changes in the students or in who is drawn to the profession. And having earned a degree a couple of decades ago, I'm still learning - so however I was socialized to the profession has undergone a lot of changes.



Alec said...

Link is broken. Access the article here.

Barbara said...

Whoops... thanks for catching that. I fixed it.