Monday, December 03, 2007

Library Technologists of the Future

This was sent in by a fan. Supposedly, these are summaries of student presentations to be given at the end of a library school's required technology course, or perhaps I should say "technology" course. I'm not sure if these are supposed to be individual or group presentations, but I hope group. That would make them much more entertaining as the students vied to demonstrate the intricate workings of an iPod. ("No, wait! Let me show them how to play Brick!") By the way, I don't know any more about these than you do, since I wasn't given the full information. Maybe I'm being hoaxed. The wonderful thing about that possibility is that I don't care.

If not a hoax, this definitely shows that library school is even easier now than it was in my day, whenever that was. As ridiculously easy as I found library school, I can honestly say that I wasn't allowed to stand up in front of a class showing how to use an iPod and call it graduate work. If I recall correctly, I had to stand up and show how to operate a boombox and call it graduate work. "Watch closely, class. You push this little button to play the cassette. And this little knob lets you tune the stereo." I am, of course, joking. My library school wouldn't have let me get away with that, and yet that's exactly the sort of thing library schools are doing today while getting applause from the twopointopians.

So let's take a look at what the library school students of today get to call graduate work. Is it as easy as sitting in class playing videogames?

"*Presentation 1: Jing is a tool for creating and sharing still and video captures of a computer screen. The presenters plan to demonstrate how a librarian could use Jing to create short database or catalog tutorials that can be shared from the library's website or on-the-fly tutorials for chat reference. The presentation will be in the lab (not available for web viewing or archiving)."

I can see where this would be useful for various librarian purposes, tutorials and such. It hardly seems like something worth giving a grade to, though, and I'm assuming these presentations are graded. When I was in school, this was the sort of thing that would have been handled by some extracurricular student presentation just for fun. Still, I suppose I sat through sillier presentations in library school.

"*Presentation 2: Operations of an iPod will be presented to an audience of new users. The intention is to demonstrate the creation of learning modules for library instruction. A 5th generation iPod will be used for this demonstration."

A 5th generation iPod for a 5th grade presentation. Seems appropriate.

"*Presentation 3: The presenters will give a demonstration of how to play the game Guitar Hero. Presentation will include how this device can be used to help a person's hand-eye coordination, and also be a fun activity for older children, young adults, and older adults. Content will include discussion on how this can be used within a public library setting."

Yay! More sitting in class playing videogames. What a great way to turn your puerile hobby into an exercise for "graduate" school! Isn't this the game where you pretend to play guitar even though you don't really need to know how? That seems perfect for library school, where people pretend to be graduate students while spending their time in class playing videogames.

"*Presentation 4: This module will demonstrate the basic features of the Magellen Explorist line of GPS units. The objective is to show how a GPS system can be incorporated into a library setting or library use. A geocaching element is also included in the training module. (Portions of this module will be held outside, weather permitting.)"

Now this one is new to me, not GPS units, but claiming they can be "incorporated into a library setting or library use." Good luck meeting that objective. I'm still trying to figure out what demonstrating anything outside has to do with being in the library. Is it just me, or does it seem like some geocaching library student needed to present on something "technological" and grabbed the first thing handy? A GPS system for a library? I suppose this is information technology of a sort, but it seems unlikely that any libraries would need this. Even the bookmobile probably takes the same route all the time. Oh, wait, maybe if you worked in a really big library and were stupid enough to get lost all the time, this could be useful. The "geocaching element" is a clue, I think, that this is another way to turn a hobby into a "graduate" school presentation. I should have been allowed to demonstrate a little technology called the cocktail shaker with the objective of incorporating it into a library setting.

If possible, library school is easier than ever if this is what passes for technology education. Or perhaps we're starting to see a decline into the library version of the future envisioned by H.G. Wells in The Time Machine. If you've ever read that book, you know the future population is divided into the brutal but capable Morlocks and the harmless and helpless Eloi. In Wells's socialist vision, the Morlocks are the descendants of the working classes, who were forced to work underground until they became pale and stunted but at least are able to do things. The Eloi are the descendants of the bourgeoisie who no longer know how to do anything, but are just around to giggle and look at pretty flowers and provide food for the Morlocks.

Consider this vision as we look at library technology education. There are those library school students who learn to program computers and build systems and create useful technological stuff for their libraries. And then there are those students who learn to demonstrate iPods and play videogames. We all know that systems librarians and programmers and such like to sit in the dark and are just mean and have all the power and want to use the rest of us for food. Obviously they're the Morlocks. When we see students getting graduate credit for playing videogames in class, I think we know who the Eloi are going to be.

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

Presentation 2 (the iPod) is training for Poster Presentations.

And if you think about how silly poster presentations are, you'll see how it all makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous fan here, feeling all tingly that my material was used and guilty for not providing sufficient background.

These presentations are being given by two-person teams, so I guess they fall somewhere between individual and group work. The technology course is part of the University of Alabama's SLIS program, which last time I checked was ranked in the middle of all MLS programs nationally.

The course instructor has just replaced a long-time professor who had groups do presentations on silly stuff like different vendors' ILS systems and various types of accessibility software and hardware that allows disabled persons to make use of library computers. Clearly those aren't the sorts of things librarians need to know about, not when there are bored teenagers to entertain.

And the Morlock/Eloi stuff? Simply brilliant. Thanks, AL.

Anonymous said...

does anyone really pay attention to library school rankings?

Anonymous said...

The presenters will give a demonstration of how to play the game Guitar Hero. Presentation will include how this device can be used to help a person's hand-eye coordination...

You know what could also help develop a person's hand-eye coordination at a fraction of the cost of Guitar Hero? Table tennis. Tennis. Badminton. Volleyball. Floor hockey. Bowling. Maybe these activities burn too many calories and require actual skill. There is no evidence that Guitar Hero can develop one's hand-eye coordination. Sheesh! It doesn't even teach you basic chords.

If this is what is being taught at some LIS schools, then is it any wonder that many positions require 2+ years experience? If they would at least teach the fundamentals of an ILS, actually have students work on a digitization project, etc., then these people would be employable upon graduation.

Dances With Books said...

I laughed when I saw the Guitar Hero presentation. Give me a break; I had to laugh. As you point out, that's what passes for graduate work? No wonder LIS education keeps losing respect and relevance. Then again, it is the sort of stuff the twopointopians love, and you know they want to get people in libraries (does not matter what they do once those folks get into the library). I can see the job announcements now:

* "Ability to turn on and use an IPod."

* "Ability to plug in, use, and attain a high score on the videogame Guitar Hero. If able to beat the teens at it, that would be preferred."

And so on. It's just getting ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

What would be real practical technology demonstrations in library school? Xerox repair with a Swiss army knife and a line of angry patrons with tax forms that have to be copied and mailed before the tax deadline later that night.

or

Integrating MARC records into a system and not having any duplicates show up, tracking down records done by a rogue cataloger who did not believe in AACR2 and correcting said records, or looking at 20 different records from 10 different branches and figuring out which one has the movie in DVD and is checked in. All the while a patron is screaming at you that he has to have the movie for his kid tonight for a project that is due tomorrow.

or

Trouble shoot a network that you were not allowed to attend meetings on because you are just the librarian. You will not be allowed to know anything beyond the desktop environment until the crises hits. Then you have ten minutes to get all aspects back up and running because all the students are in the library doing final projects and all the network people are in Hawaii at a conference.

How 'bout some other real world exapmles?

bbots said...

I don't know, GIS could be helpful in my library, where the shelves are a perpetual mess. We could equip each book with a satellite tracker. Who needs call numbers? Of course, I think that's a little more advanced than most GIS programs, but hey, it's a use.

Anonymous said...

I've seen Eloi--on the hoof, so to speak. They are called "sorority sisters."

--Taupey

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. It looks like a lot of the Guitar Hero songs are pretty old school. I am not sure the kiddies will dig trying to play Foreigner, Foghat, Journey, etc. Most are probably fortunate enough to not know of these bands, but I digress.

I think it would be a great idea to start teaching pole dancing aerobics in the library. You never know, it could come in handy for your teen patrons.

anon 9:55 has some great ideas for real world library technology situations. One that seems so damn obvious to me in a classroom setting would be to install and implement Koha for a laboratory library.

Anonymous said...

The point of the presentations is for students to learn how to develop a training module. The "technologies" being discussed are not really relevant; rather, the professor is interested in whether the students can teach patrons.

Anonymous said...

If this is a bibliographic instruction course, they should be doing presentations on how to use electronic resources and create handouts. Maybe that isn't fun enough but it sure is useful on the job market.

Anonymous said...

"Presentation 3: The presenters will give a demonstration of how to play the game Guitar Hero....Content will include discussion on how this can be used within a public library setting."

If it were me, I'd follow this up with a showing of the South park episode "Guitar Queer-O." (Try youtube.)

Anonymous said...

The "technologies" being discussed are not really relevant..

Well, the technologies need to be relevant. Fundamentals before fluff. Just because a student can teach a patron Guitar Hero, doesn't mean he/she can teach PubMed.

Laura D said...

As a current library school student my tech course is much more intense than the assignments you showcased! We have to keep up a blog, contribute to a wiki, complete an open source product review, do a lit review on 'library 2.0',complete a business process diagram and create architecture for a database as well as learn basic SQL in order to answer queries in an established class database. Does that sound challenging enough for a 13 week course?

Talking Books Librarian said...

where do you find the library school rankings?

and yes, does anyone place much faith in these rankings?

Anonymous said...

Well, the technologies need to be relevant. Fundamentals before fluff. Just because a student can teach a patron Guitar Hero, doesn't mean he/she can teach PubMed.

And if they can't teach shit then they certainly can't teach PubMed or anything else. The fundamental here is the ability to get in front of a group of people (hard enough right there) and be able to effectively teach a concept. Just because a student does one brief presentation on a topic doesn't mean the whole class is focused on Guitar Hero. It could very well be worthwhile to build teaching confidence on a fluff topic--especially when students have hardly had any experience with "real" library topics.

Anonymous said...

where do you find the library school rankings?

Same place you find other school rankings: U.S. News & World Report. You can also find a transcription by Googling library school rankings.

Let's show a little information literacy here!

morse said...

"The point of the presentations is for students to learn how to develop a training module. The "technologies" being discussed are not really relevant; rather, the professor is interested in whether the students can teach patrons."

Possibly, but the only required LIS course at Alabama with "technology" in the title is this one:

"LS 560. Information Technology:
Three hours. Required course. Topics in information technology; applications of automation to library procedures; planning for and implementing an automated library system; and the library of the future."

I wonder if this is the course. If so, then learning to develop a training module isn't an excuse to teach iPod 101. That should be in a instruction or info services course. If it's some other course, maybe then it doesn't matter as much.

Anonymous said...

"As a current library school student my tech course is much more intense than the assignments you showcased! We have to keep up a blog, contribute to a wiki, complete an open source product review, do a lit review on 'library 2.0',complete a business process diagram and create architecture for a database as well as learn basic SQL in order to answer queries in an established class database. Does that sound challenging enough for a 13 week course?"

For week one.

Those are concepts to be learned in high school or maybe first or second years of college. Grad school? And if you are in grad school and can't get up and talk about something, that is just sad.

No wonder when people say librarians are a profession, you get a knowing chuckle.

Anonymous said...

"As a current library school student my tech course is much more intense than the assignments you showcased! We have to keep up a blog, contribute to a wiki, complete an open source product review, do a lit review on 'library 2.0',complete a business process diagram and create architecture for a database as well as learn basic SQL in order to answer queries in an established class database. Does that sound challenging enough for a 13 week course?"

No. Freshman chemistry or physics is much harder than this in week one. If you want a real challenge take optical crystallography as a junior. What you're doing isn't grad work, it's HS level dreck.

Library science ain't science and it ain't hard. If you think the stuff you have to do in that class is challenging, you are in the right field as a librarian.

AL said...

You're so mean!

Farkas is Willin' said...

"...optical crystallography as a junior"

Exactly how does that fit into the needed skills of a reference librarian. I haven't exactly been besieged by reference questions on them thing lately, or any in the last couple of decades.

"...any jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a carpenter to build one."

Any of those who spray cat piss on the profession regularly here have any suggestions on what they should teach in library school?"
AL is funny but the recent comments are just sick vitriol.

Laura D said...

i never claimed that this course was as hard as freshman chemistry, nor do i believe it should be... wow... annoyed librarian is right, you are mean. all i wanted to do with my post is show that some library schools are doing a bit more in the tech department then just teaching students how to use an ipod...
are you two librarians? what should we be learning in a tech class?
oh and thanks for making me feel like an idiot by the way... this is the last time i make a comment on a blog... if you think librarianship is a joke of a profession why are you so keen to post on a librarian's blog then?

Anonymous said...

The point of the presentations is for students to learn how to develop a training module. The "technologies" being discussed are not really relevant; rather, the professor is interested in whether the students can teach patrons.

God! I just love the responses from the really uptight folks.
Keep 'em coming!
They are the bright spot in my MaRC hell days.

Anonymous said...

Freshman chemistry or physics is much harder than this in week one. If you want a real challenge take optical crystallography as a junior.

I took quantum mechanics sophmore year and x-ray spectroscopy junior year. So what?

Some people find technology "hard." That just makes it easier for people like me to get a job.

Anonymous said...

Is there such a thing as a challenging LIS program? If there is anything I have learned from AL, it that no library school really prepares anyone for the profession.

Jennifer said...

Wow, your post and responses show how seriously narrow-minded and - if you are a librarian - how unhappy you are in your profession.

I agree with Laura D, and with the professor who posted comments.. there are numerous reasons behind these presentations, among which, and rightly so - is to foster teaching skills in librarians.

However, if you took the time for this all to sink in, you would realize that a commonality in all scenarios is the age group of the library patrons who would be most familiar with Guitar Hero, for example.

This is the age bracket at which public library systems lose the most patrons, because libraries have not been able to reach teenagers. This has a plethora of potential benefits, such as increases in circ and program attendance, as well as funding.

I think perhaps YOU need to go back to library school, if you cannot see how this all benefits you.

Anonymous said...

It could very well be worthwhile to build teaching confidence on a fluff topic--especially when students have hardly had any experience with "real" library topics.

Build confidence through difficulty, adversity, and meaningful challenges. That's why so many of you are made of paper. No mollycoddling!

I went from hardcore academe to LIS land. I was clueless at first, but I survived. It served me well years later. It's why this Luddite can go from MARC to Perl without needing Xanax.

That said, the assignments Laura D enumerated are what LIS students SHOULD be learning. Y'all should be welcoming Laura D into the fold!

Kristen said...

I still worry that the rush to appeal to teens is self-defeating in the long run. Especially when it's done in a way that alienates other users. Especially the users who vote on levies. And offering Guitar Hero lessons to seniors (there was just an article on a library doing that) is not the way to placate them.

I also think pandering to grad students isn't any more helpful. Most of them are not in their early 20s. Many of them work in libraries. And they really should have gotten over the public speaking thing by now. (I hadn't, but that was still my own problem.) And I would have been really insulted with these training wheels type lessons. Especially considering how little on-the-job training there is once you graduate. Yes, learning actual databases and such is more valuable.

Webby said...

"One that seems so damn obvious to me in a classroom setting would be to install and implement Koha for a laboratory library."

...shudder... In my tech course we did just that with Koha and built an ILS. Hated it. And my day job is in IT! I'm a MS IIS girl myself, thanks. ~kneels down and kisses the ground Bill Gates walks on~

And what exactly is Guitar Hero? I'm new...and 44. My video game knowledge stopped at Frogger in 1982. The was rhetorical; I'll Google it.

I have to admit the last two years have not been hard, per se. They were intense in workload but I'm unsure of how much that workload will be used in real life. On-the-job training is still the best IMO. Hopefully, somebody will give it to me. Is that temp Library Director job still avail?

Anonymous said...

(/Is there such a thing as a challenging LIS program? If there is anything I have learned from AL, it that no library school really prepares anyone for the profession.


Yeah, you got THAT right. As a musician in my ever decreasing spare time, and as someone who has studied classical guitar for seven years, I don't see how Guitar Hero benefits anyone besides kids cutting class or what use this type of copyright trampling computer game can have in libraries? What does it teach you? Certainly not musicianship or anything to do with playing the guitar, electric or otherwise...If this is what recent LIS grads are getting for their LIS "edukashun", that explains the glassy eyed stare in my younger collegues eyes as you attempt to explain how to read a MARC format record. Just pathetic.

Crumbly said...

I sympathise with the young librarians on courses some of you criticise. If you can't be enthusiastic and even starry-eyed about your chosen profession at Library School when can you be?

Don't think I learnt a whole lot that was directly useful in my time at library school as a result of direct tuition but the contact with fellow students and the lecturers was priceless.

Anonymous said...

ANON 10:15
What's MARC?
Seriously though if the cataloging courses at other SLISs are like the one I took, they are useless. My prof basically showed up when he wanted to(up to 45 minutes late), left early (as in 2-3 hours early), and did little teaching, it was mostly political rants. I am now learning cataloging though on the job self training.

As for the technology course question and relevence in the field, most of the library profs I had were academics with little to no time spent in the field. The four library profs that did have field experience either A)were excellent and new their subject matter very well and were effective teachers, or B) viewed the teaching a class as a way to get free money and didn't do crap (see above).

Personally I would have loved to have taken a few more tech classes. But with the program I was in, I had all my classes set out and no electives.

Privateer6

Anonymous said...

...shudder... In my tech course we did just that with Koha and built an ILS. Hated it. And my day job is in IT!

I am not surprised. You were probably underwhelmed. Too many academics in LIS land tend to conflate IT with Systems Librarianship: "Oh you're in IT? Oh, you'll love indexing, setting circulation rules, etc."

As a musician in my ever decreasing spare time, and as someone who has studied classical guitar for seven years, I don't see how Guitar Hero benefits anyone besides kids cutting class or what use this type of copyright trampling computer game can have in libraries? What does it teach you? Certainly not musicianship or anything to do with playing the guitar, electric or otherwise...

Touche! I fail to see how this game helps with cognitive development.

if you took the time for this all to sink in, you would realize that a commonality in all scenarios is the age group of the library patrons who would be most familiar with Guitar Hero

Not every teen is a gamer. Some actually have lives that do not revolve around a computer/television screen.

If it were me, I'd follow this up with a showing of the South park episode "Guitar Queer-O."

Awesome-o!

She Thinks She's Carrie Nation said...

My "technology" course in library school consisted of learning how to use computer cards to build a database and setting up "vertical files". Today's projects seem like a lot more fun.

Anonymous said...

A comment more on society in general than libraries specifically, but we are headed away from the real world and towards virtual with each nano second.

Want to play football? Don't spend years and years training to perfect your sport. Grab Madden 2007, plop it in your Playstation, and you are a star.

Want to be in a rock band? Don't be a schmuck and spend hours practicing until your fingers and your neighbors ears bleed. Get Guitar Hero and rock on dude.

Want to find out information? Google! If you don't find something in the first two pages of your search, it doesn't exist.

Want friends? Don't chance a bar, or a church, or awkward social encounters. Facebook!

It is becoming fashionable to not have to leave mommy's basement anymore.

The.Effing.Librarian said...

anonymous 11:10 AM said:
The point of the presentations is for students to learn how to develop a training module.

I think I had an assignment on flowcharting where I laid out the steps for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so I guess any task could work.

Yes, watch the South Park ep.. and the Morlock stuff is damn funny.

Meg said...

It's nice to know that somebody else is having an equally fruitless library school experience. Not only am I young (and therefore not to be taken seriously), I actually went through with the MLIS nonsense. Thank goodness I'm starting law school next year...

Anonymous said...

Actually, the ipod presentation, is actually a fairly good one, and here is why.... Librarians nowa-days should know how these players work. Much is available online that utilizes this technology. Talking books being the most obvious example. Knowing how to assist patrons with this technology is a skill that librarians will need in the future. Shoot, they need to know it now actually. Most of the librarians I know have no clue how to use this technology.

The Guitar Hero presentation is a bit of a joke tho, especially since I know ALs view of these types of activities in libraries.

Mediocre I tells ya!

-Minks, the preacher of Mediocre

Anonymous said...

Laura D,

Don't take what was said personally. They were not attacking you, they were critiquing Library School,, or more to the point, how easy it is. The library profession is being flooded with people that think guitar hero is an appropriate project in Library School. How can librarians expect to compete with other professions and demand a competitive salary when this is the case. This is a perfect example of why a master degreed person can only make $40k a year fresh out of the program (if that much).

Ok,, everybody is gonna want to shoot me for this thought,, but,, maybe,,, just maybe,, the dropout rate is a little low? I figure increase the difficulty level until you get about a 30% drop rate and that will help!

Now, another example, to make me look like a completely insensitive a-hole... in my graduating class, we actually graduated a handicapped person. I am not talking physically handicapped. Oh no. I am talking MENTALLY handicapped. During class discussion on how best to counsel employees on inappropriate dress she would pipe in with witty remarks such as.. "I like pink because sometimes plastic hippos are pink". Ok,, ok,, I exaggerate a little,, but not that much. All I could figure is that she must write great, because she graduated. Standing next to her at graduation all I could think about were pink hippos and what that said about the education I just purchased.


-Minks, the preacher of Mediocre

AL said...

I would have to agree. Library schools are set up so that absolutely anyone who can make it through any college with any degree can handle the work and graduate. I suppose there must be some people somewhere stupid or lazy enough to fail library school, but they'd probably have to be both. Stupidity alone certainly doesn't seem to predict failure.

There are many ways to judge programs, and judging them by their best students might not be the best way. Undoubtedly many brilliant people go to library school for whatever reason. But if we compared library programs to other graduate programs on the least capable people who manage to complete a degree, I'd be willing to bet library school would be near the top of that list.

Publicus said...

There was actually a guy in my Caribbean library school who flunked.
He reminded me of a dude I worked next to when I was an ironworker (they actually make more than librarians but can get killed at anytime)who turned to me and said "36 inches in a foot...right?!"

j- said...

*It is becoming fashionable to not have to leave mommy's basement anymore.*

Well, then, no wonder so many of us haven't seen the hordes of barbarians who have slipped through the gates.

Is there a PS3 game called "Fiddle hero"? Because this new Rome is probably on the verge of burning down.

Anonymous said...

I just found out that I and the rest of the library staff will have to sit through MS Office workshops. Yay. I would much prefer to sit through a Guitar Hero session since I don't use that everyday.

globby hughston said...

I take great comfort in the fact that even though these students are learning to turn on iPods and play guitar hero in graduate school, when they are actually employed in libraries, their co-workers will insist that the new librarians know nothing and the old librarians will review their work (turning on iPods and playing guitar hero) for at least the first 5 years of their employment.

Anonymous said...

". . .their co-workers will insist that the new librarians know nothing and the old librarians will review their work . . ."

Will the circle, be unbroken?
By and by, lord
By and by.

Liberry Student said...

I am currently in my 2nd quarter of MLIS school and it really is a joke, so far at least. Granted I am attending the cheapest program out there, and it's completely online, however... compared to the work required for my first MA degree, this is ridiculous.

Every discussion of issues, such as Freedom of Information, the Patriot Act, etc. deteriorates into half of the students in my cohort posting messages about how afraid they are that our great country is about to turn "communist"... seriously... Then a couple of sentences later, they will state the need for censorship in one form or another. It's bizarre.

My reference class has thus far consisted of learning how to blog, make a wiki, and reading articles about the great importance of "MySpace" and "FaceBook". Who knew!

I guess you get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

Jukebox Hero might be a good game, but you'll have to virtually stand in the rain, with your head hung low because you couldn't get a ticket to the sold out show. Then, you hear that one guitar, it blows you away, and the very next day you buy a old six string in a second-hand store.

Anonymous said...

buy a BEAT up six string...

holly said...

I finished library school almost 3 years ago. A number of people told me it was just a union card and they were right. I didn't learn anything. I didn't know what a database was when I started and my teacher made fun of me when I tried to use one for a paper and did an attempt so shoddy I shock my current self - but I had NO IDEA what the thing even was. I had 2 good classes out of 10 or 12 (I don't remember). The rest were an absolute joke. I learned NOTHING until I landed a spot in a library and the librarians there helped me with me homework for a science reference class; finally I began to learn something about researching.
I'm in a 'real' master's program now and it's actually challenging, which I welcome, and which initially surprised me; I have to actually do the readings (and have a desire to)I have to actually attempt to be coherent and proofread my papers to get an A, and I'm not giving stupid presentations on 'world libraries in sweeden'.

webbygrl said...

Actually, the ipod presentation, is actually a fairly good one, and here is why.... Librarians nowa-days should know how these players work.

HELLO?! NOT IN GRADUATE SCHOOL!!
This is actually more of an inservice teaching thing actually.

Lo and behold I got an A this semester! Boy, I was really sweating it there for awhile. Whew!

Anonymous said...

cataloger who did not believe in AACR2 and correcting said records, or looking at 20 different records from 10 different branches and figuring out which one has the movie in DVD and is checked in. All the while a patron is screaming at you that he has to have the movie for his kid tonight for a project that is due tomorrow.”

Isn’t this what you should be learning in a cataloging class?

“…my tech course is much more intense than the assignments you showcased! We have to keep up a blog, contribute to a wiki, complete an open source product review, do a lit review on 'library 2.0',complete a business process diagram and create architecture for a database as well as learn basic SQL in order to answer queries in an established class database. Does that sound challenging enough for a 13 week course?”

After the first semester at UA SLIS, students are aggressively encouraged to do these things of our own volition. These are considered basic tools are they not?

I agree, the presentations sound hokey when you just look at the abstracts. The only reason they were sent out in that form is because we had other faculty and colleagues within the school that were interested in attending.

It may be of interest to you that students of this class were also required to do a formal, in-depth Systems Analysis on an IT System (a system that requires proprietary hardware and software) and conduct formal usability testing on an IT device and on a website. In addition they were required to learn to perform html hand-tagging in order to create and maintain a website with all of their class assignments.

FYI UA works on a 16 week semester rotation. There is a bit more time to fill.

abundance_of_eloi said...

The line that I find most interesting in your post AL is where you address the possibility that you might be sharing a hoax with us. "The wonderful thing about that possibility is that I don't care."

Is it really so bothersome to have to stop and consider, not just the context and nuances of a situation, but the essential accuracy of what one is commenting on? No reason to let that get in the way of a good rant about "kids these days". When I went to library school, we had to shelve uphill both ways and in the snow. We had to shush patrons without using our index finger. You know, the Golden Age.

I don't know about you, but I learned a lot in the fifth grade. My mind was opened to broader contexts in history, abstraction in mathematics, and perspective in art. The most important thing that I learned though, is the joy of sharing new things with others, especially ideas that I found interesting or exciting.

I really am sympathetic to the project of encouraging more rigor in library school. Are these projects "graduate work"? Maybe, maybe not. But there is more to becoming a professional than doing "rigorous" work each and every assignment. I believe that fostering curiosity, technical intuition and enthusiasm for innovations are also important parts of a library school curriculum.

Maybe these folks are as you said subhuman "Eloibrarians". Or maybe they're your future colleagues and as such deserve a basic level of courtesy. Maybe the instructor of this course wants to give people easy A's. Or maybe context, nuance and accuracy really do count for something after all.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but did I read it right? There is a graduate degree to become a librarian???? I've got to tell my friends if it's true. Please confirm.

webbygrl said...

It may be of interest to you that students of this class were also required to do a formal, in-depth Systems Analysis on an IT System (a system that requires proprietary hardware and software) and conduct formal usability testing on an IT device and on a website. In addition they were required to learn to perform html hand-tagging in order to create and maintain a website with all of their class assignments.

Don't those instructors have a wonderful way of making the simple sound incredibly technologically difficult? Techno-babble is the best way to make non-geeks feel inept - we learn it in the first semester of geek school. Let's break this down in to the King's English:

a formal, in-depth Systems Analysis on an IT System (a system that requires proprietary hardware and software) really means: a couple of pages listing the PC and what's inside it. This information comes on the outside of the box. "Proprietary" is simply the techno way of saying "not open source" but you have to buy it from a vendor.

conduct formal usability testing on an IT device and on a website really means plug the cable thingy into the wall and turn it on. Oh, don't forget to hit Next or Enter every now and again. To test the website, one must click the big blue "E" on the GUI interface. Don't be scared; that's a screen.

In addition they were required to learn to perform html hand-tagging in order to create and maintain a website with all of their class assignments. Now for this one, look just above the box where you are typing your reply and see the little line that says "You can use some HTML tags, such as < b >, < i >, < a > "? Ta-Daa! Hand-tagging. Tough stuff. Most highschoolers on blogs know how to do this. And who hand-tags to maintain a website? Preposterous! If library schools really wanted to get with the program, they'd teach an in-depth course on Front Page or Dreamweaver/Flash/Java and let their poor students utilize an actual web development program to create amazing, interactive websites and teach them how to push that web out to the world using IIS or Apache. They would teach them how to secure and troubleshoot IIS and understand how to IP restrict the network to prevent hacker defacing. Wait...maybe after I graduate, I'll teach.

My point - technobabble is just that; babble. Librarian professors make this too hard. My hardest course was creating MARC records from scratch. I work with some of the best and brightest database guys in the industry. When I went to them with help on my homework, they went screaming from the room (it's not Oracle or SQL so they don't get it). But if librarians can learn and understand MARC, then learning propriatary software is a snap.

Anonymous said...

"cataloger who did not believe in AACR2 and correcting said records, or looking at 20 different records from 10 different branches and figuring out which one has the movie in DVD and is checked in. All the while a patron is screaming at you that he has to have the movie for his kid tonight for a project that is due tomorrow.”

Isn’t this what you should be learning in a cataloging class?"

Absolutely should be learning it in cataloging class. And be able to go int technology class and explain it in a manner that the class would understand. It is library school after all. And those are real world examples.

If you want an Ipod explained to you, you can always head to Best Buy.

Anonymous said...

In addition they were required to learn to perform html hand-tagging...

I hope you were learning XHTML and not HTML!

You must deprogram yourself of technobabble because speaking in this manner will be very divisive in your future place of employment.

Anonymous said...

Here you go bagging on video games again. You having fun playing the one you just used to enter this blog?
And you said my comment was baseless and bizarre.


VGD

Anonymous said...

This saber tooth relic has been self teaching himself a number of coding languages over hte years and thought greta things about how to use it, but this last semester he gfinally had a class that brought it all together. This one class threw the whole thing into one 18 week course [systems analysis, ERDs, Access, SQL database migration, HTML, PHP, CSS] for beginners who have never done any of this and thought he beginners really struggled, I really got a lot out of the calss. The Instructor gave us the important parts, explained each file as he coded them on the screen by hand [we did everything hand coded in this class, except we also made active use of "real programming," aka yank a template that looks right off a site], and now I know what I am looking at with these languages with a lot more clarity. I do wish I had the rest of the languages now [passwords and the whole kit and kabbodle] but I can do a lot with what I have now till the end of grad school!!

The part I don't get right now is that we are in Grad school. Some of us are in Tier I Reseach universities. To me, that means we do actual graduate level research - not more summing up research done by the rest of the world. These 2-3 page undergraduate level papers have GOT TO STOP!

Many of these classes people are going to Universities for sound more appropriately to be Community College level vocational training. I'm not here at the University to Train for a Specific Job - I am here to build a set of skills that will allow me to Create the Jobs of the future.
Does this make sense to anyone?

AL, you be rest assured - you have job security unless those punks in management learn guitar hero!

Merc kat

Anonymous said...

How many of you practicing librarians/alumni have contacted your library schools in order to help improve library education? We are certainly adept at self-flagellation, aren't we? If you think library education sucks, then do something about it instead of being an albeit clever but nonetheless snide bystander. As alumni, we should insist on better education than what we currently see. And, to those who have posted rather haughtily that "their library school would NEVER do this" ... well, I find that difficult to believe. U of I, UNC, and the like are often ranked in the top ten and from my discussions with those alumni, the same sorts of problems exist there.

Anonymous said...

As someone who was an unfortunate student in Professor Malinconico's course, I have to say this: at least the technology is based in 21st century concepts. Professor Malinconico didn't really leave 1970's era technology. It's a small improvement, but only adds to my cynicism about UA's SLIS program being a JOKE.

Anonymous said...

re: As someone who was an unfortunate student in Professor Malinconico's course,...<<

Disgruntled students are a dime a dozen. What did you do to distinguish yourself? How did you go the extra mile? Graduate school is as hard or easy, challenging or trivial, as YOU make it. It's your opportunity to push yourself. Take some responsiblity for your own participation. Perhaps Professor Malinconico has simlar feelings...

It could be, the joke's on you.

Anonymous said...

Graduate school is as hard or easy, challenging or trivial, as YOU make it.

I see this sort of thin a lot, and I have to wonder: Are there any programs other than the MLS (and maybe the M.Ed.) in which "easy and trivial" are realistic options?

I didn't crack a book after the first week of classes, but I still graduated with a 4.0. Would this be even conceivable in any other discipline?

Anonymous said...

I didn't crack a book after the first week of classes, but I still graduated with a 4.0. Would this be even conceivable in any other discipline?<<

This whole easy/hard thing is a straw man argument. For the most part, people are attracted to master's programs that align with their skills, capabilities and prior knowledge. And, most people who enter interdisciplinary studies such as LIS already have had careers in areas that lead them to this area of study. For many, the degree doesn't represent what one learns so much as confirm what the student already knows. If it's not easy, you probably picked the wrong program. Believe me, their are many engineers out there who wouldn't get through the first week of a LIS foundations course. I've read some of their papers. On the other hand, if you've spent 5 years in undergraduate school getting A's in math, physics and other quantitative subjects, you're not going to have much trouble with a handful of master's classes in engineering that apply the knowledge. It's all a matter of what you bring to the program. What are you good at? Business, accounting, marketing, journalism, public administration, forestry, animal husbandry, what? For someone who has successfully completed the bachelor's, graduate school just isn't that hard. It's not the subject matter but life that throws most students who have trouble. Family, careers, and other responsibilities are the hard part.

Rachel said...

Although “anonymous” has sent in the summaries of the presentations for this class, he/she offers no information beyond the name of the University and the fact that this class is being taught for the first time by an instructor replacing a recently retired professor. In his/her first comment regarding AL’s post, “anonymous” presents these factoids as remedying the lack of “sufficient background” in the information he/she originally sent to AL. Was “anonymous” a participant in the class? Is he/she even a current UA SLIS student?

I’d like to suggest that sufficient background for criticizing the nature of these presentations would actually involve knowledge of the goals of the original assignment. Were the students charged with taking a mainstream technology and adapting it to library work? Were they to identify a technology that they use frequently and told to develop a brief module for explaining its use to a novice? I can think of several other reasonable assignments for which presentations such as those described here (in abstract form, people!) would be appropriate.

It’s unlikely that these presentations constitute the entirety of the students’ graded work for this class. Perhaps the students were required to submit to examinations, write papers, make other presentations, lead class discussion, etc.? This information would also be helpful in order to have an informed discussion of the appropriateness of the presentation content. Instead, most of the (anonymous) comments have used the abstracts as a springboard to condemn the assignment, the class, UA’s SLIS, and, indeed, LIS education *in general* as ‘ridiculous,’ a ‘joke’, and not constituting ‘real’ graduate education, but the equivalent of a ‘union card.’

Mind you, I’m making no comment on the actual quality of the presentations, the assignment, the class, the instructor, etc., because there is simply not enough information presented in the abstracts to make such a judgment. Considering that AL’s post and several subsequent comments cast a jaundiced eye on the level of rigor in today’s library school curricula, many participants in this discussion have displayed a remarkably low level of intellectual rigor.

I'd also like to mention that the posting of comments by (I assume) multiple anonymous respondents further confuses this discussion. Use an alias if you want, but at least post under a unique name.

Anonymous said...

re: many participants in this discussion have displayed a remarkably low level of intellectual rigor. <<

You must be new around here...

Rachel said...

Sorry...instead of saying "many participants in this discussion have displayed a remarkably low level of intellectual rigor", I should've said: "...many participants in this discussion have displayed a remarkably low level of intellectual rigor in making such a judgment" [about LIS education based on such limited information].

I didn't mean to imply that AL or the respondents display limited intellectual rigor generally. I was speaking about this discussion specifically.

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to imply that AL or the respondents display limited intellectual rigor generally.<<

Don't be so shy.

Anonymous said...

I'm a librarian who doesn't own an iPod. I can't afford one. Probably don't need a presentation to figure out how to use one, but still, with my salary you pay me you can't expect me to keep up with technology unless you provide training at work.

Back in the 90's, many library staff had trouble using computers probably because they had not become comfortable with them by using them at home. Unlike the typical office worker, library staff couldn't afford to have computers in their homes so it took longer for them to learn to use them.

Anonymous said...

While it was amusing to read AL's commentary on the presentation abstracts, the comments which followed illustrated that most folks just haven't yet accepted that library schools are not ever going to be perfect. We're an applied profession with only a small minority doing serious research, and the library schools are teaching to that reality. Give the students practical assignments that don't suck, but don't moan and whine that they aren't doing graduate level work. You're right, most of them aren't, and neither will they be after they are finished. They'll be doing mid- and upper-level management, which may or may not require what a "real" master's level program would give them.

"Sonny Hill" said...

I actually just found this blog as part of an LIS "InfoTech" course that is a curriculum requirement as of 2007. We are also required to create our own blog (in the long shadow of the AL) and should be working hard on Facebook in the coming weeks!

As for an earlier poster's comment that we should be working to improve our LIS programs rather than complaining: I was recently talking with an intern who was doing his LIS practicum under my supervision (the same kind of work we give non-LIS undergrads), and we decided we'd both have more clout as degree-holders being courted for donations to our alma mater.