Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Dean Interview -- Part 2

 University Appoints New Dean for SLIS* -- Replies

Many people made comments on last week's column and they warrant  replies. 

1) One person said that computer science should be covered in library school in depth.

In many library schools "information science" includes courses in web design, data base design and management, networking and other computer science courses.  When I went to library school in days before personal computers, learning SNOBOL4 (a computer language for text and string manipulation) was offered as a non-credit elective.  I made a pledge to myself that I would soon have a computer of my own for running programs. I did not want to punch cards, submit them and then wait for the report to tell me in the program worked or didn't.  I purchased my first personal computer five years later, two years before IBM made their first PC.  I was then able to write and test hundreds of iterations of my programs.

The difference between a computer science course in the math department and one in library school is a course in the math department is concerned with the "what and how" while the graduate library school course  is more interested in the "why" and management issues.   The library school produce graduates who know more about how information is stored, processed and retrieved than the students in a math department program concerned with algorithms. 

2) What school does this dean work for?

The note at the bottom of the interview says that this is for your information only.  The comments are my own and any connection to an actual school are coincidental.  The is follows the tradition of the Kuzari, in which Yehudah Halevi uses the interview format to write about his philosophy.  If you should want to hire me as a consultant or faculty member, I am available.  

3) Why is the dean so optimistic?

The dean's job is to promote the school and its mission.   We are an information society.  Almost every job today is based on information systems.  The world needs more critical thinkers who know how to organize, store and retrieve information.  Unfortunately we are in difficult financial straits.  We can't guarantee any graduate will find a job in their first choice library or location.  In the ancient times of the 1960's jobs applied to library school graduates instead of students applying for posted jobs.  That time is long gone.  Graduates have to constantly retrain themselves for the next job.   What I say privately to individuals is not the same as what I want to put into print for everyone.

4) What jobs are open to library school graduates?

As I mentioned before many graduates never work in libraries.  Just this morning I talked to someone is a college dean who once worked as a librarian.  We have to open the world to the understanding that librarians are flexible and can learn lots of jobs that depend on critical thinking, organization of information, and helping people out of complex information overloads. 

Many librarians are losing their jobs today.  Now is the time to do more public relations, more writing about the field, and more public service advertising.  Now is the time to share your wisdom.  The skill to look up facts and information still valuable.  The challenge is that Google, TV, and instant gratification have clouded the systematic seeking of the reliable information needed for wise decisions. 

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