Monday, August 18, 2014

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over #ifla_set40

Liveblogging from the 40th anniversary conference of the IFLA Section on Education and Training which is part of the WLIC (IFLA) 2014 in Lyon, France. I was too nervous to liveblog in the 2nd IGNITE session as I was speaking in it. I'll blog a little about it later.
The last keynote is from Lynn Silipigni Connaway, entitled Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly: developing educational programs for an emerging profession. She started by revolving around the tensions in library and information education - in particular the tension between research and practice. She pointed out that the criticism that LIS research is not of practical use to libraries has been around for a while.
In terms of education she felt that it wsn't the tools (including technology tools), but rather the values, ethics and fundamentals that educators should concentrate on teaching (the tools were no good without these). She mentioned things like organisation of information, understanding of theory, people skills and collaboration as being part of the fundamentals. Understanding and researching people's behaviour (including formal service evaluation and usability studies) was important. Working out how to build relationships was also vital: and in fact a focus on relationship building rather than service excellence (citing Brian Mathews). To do this, students also needed to develop their problem solving and decision making skills and master research methods.
Connaway saw great potential in data specialist or data librarian posts, but with emphasis on people skills, not just technical skills.
Connaway cited various studies or statements that showed that employers did not feel enough library graduates were prepared for the library workplace. At the end she felt that the person had a good approach when she said that a library qualification gave them an understanding of why librarians do what they do, based on a grounding in theory.
Connaway does interesting research at OCLC, which I've blogged about previously, but here's a random link to an article from last year:
Connaway, L.S. et al.  (2013) "I always stick with the first thing that comes up on Google. . ." Where People Go for Information, What They Use, and Why. EDUCAUSE Review, December 6.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Spot the bridal party, Lyon August 2014

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