Monday, August 18, 2014

Library and Information education - curriculum - values #wlic2014 #ifla_set40

As part of the World Library and Information Conference (IFLA) 2014 in Lyon, France I'm attending the 40th anniversary conference of the IFLA Section on Education and Training. Since this isn't focusing on Information Literacy I will just cover it briefly. It is a whole day conference and I am doing a very short presentation this afternoon.
The day started with a keynote from Dr Ismail Serageldin (Bibliotheca Alexandrina). He touched on some of the same points as his keynote in Singapore last year, for instance concerning the 7 Pillars of the Knowledge Revolution, but with exploration of the changes affecting librarians and the need to espouse and enact core values. To illustrate the latter point he gave examples of US librarians resisting giving up patron information, and citizens defending the Bibliotheca Alexandrina during the revolutions in Egypt.
This was followed by an international panel representing various associations (e.g. the iSchools consortium, the Council on Library and Information Science Education (CILISE). Panellists talked about challenges such as coping with changes in higher education (and these will vary country to country), achieving changes to the curriculum and simply keeping in touch with each other. It was evident, unsurprisingly, that while some issues were common across countries (e.g. a focus on technology), others were specific to particular countries or regions (e.g. in African context a need for more agreement on standards and competencies; in Japan the low or hidden status of librarianship in comparison with computer science).
Personally I am a bit concerned that with too much emphasis on technology (big data etc.) some of the core of information science, and the human/social perspective, may be lost sight of (so that it becomes difficult to distinguish it usefully from other technology-focused disciplines). However, perhaps it is easy to say this when I am in a comparatively technology-rich country. Some of the participants (for example Dick Kawooya and Filiberto Felipe Martinez Arellano) did talk about the issue of the nature of the core curriculum and the place of technology within it.
Paul Sturges (from the audience) also raised the issue of whether associations might becoming too controlling  and stifle creativity. Responses from the panel indicated that some associations were not at the stage to be controlling, but in some cases there could be a need to have standradisation etc. in order to maintain an identity and professionalism.
Photo by Sheila Webber: lake in the park, Lyon, August 2014

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