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Technology and education: Are library schools doing enough?


I think many librarians learn on the job the bits and pieces of technology that they need. In my program at FIMS there was one required tech course – and for most of us it was a joke. In that course we had to make a web page (one single page with a bit of text and a single photo), use Access and Excel, tinker with a few other things, and that’s about it. We all had to do an oral presentation – mine was on laptops. This type of course is still necessary as there were students who had zero experience with computers.

Yet, having just one required course allows students to “shy away” from other tech courses. Is that a bad thing? I know it’s not a good thing, but not sure if it’s “bad” either. I can see the need for more tech education among those who are planning on going into academic, public, or special libraries. Ok, well every library – and archives too!

It’s good that students have choices, but depending on the student maybe not. For instance, I never took any course directed towards public librarians – none at all. Now, considering the vendor I work for serves public libraries, when I leave (my ambitions will be too great for this place), I could see me ending up working in one. I’ve never taken reader’s advisory, or children’s programming, or anything. I guess my collection development course was designed to meet everyone’s needs, so that was good. The point is, I feel at a disadvantage when talking and thinking about public libraries because I don’t have any foundation for my thought other than my own personal experiences and a few public librarians I know. This would lead me to believe that librarians who never take more than the required tech course may have similar feelings.

Even if a person has no intention of, say, becoming a Systems librarian, there are still plenty of reasons to learn tech-type things. For one thing, it’s nice to have a clue of what you’re talking about with the IT department. For another it’s fun to try out new things. For instance a librarian at Waterloo Public Library has just started a blog for the WPL book club. From hear-say, I know that many of the book club members don’t know what a blog is or how to use it, but 1) I’m encouraging my friends who are members to use it and 2) it reaches a whole new audience, like me, who can’t physically make the book club meetings.

Point is, every librarian should be concerned with technology in library education because library students today will be your co-workers or employees tomorrow. So come check out this panel at Superconference – I mean it’s worth it just to hear Jenny Levine, Michael Stephens and Mary Cavanagh speak!


About Jen

An instructor, a reader, a dog-owner, and advocate; that's how I define myself and these aspects directly impact my interests and conversations.


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