Re-Tooling Academic Libraries for the Digital Age:
Missions, Collections, Staffing

California Academic & Research Libraries
Third Annual Conference


Session E: Professional Schools Curricula & Continuing Education: Who Needs to Know What?

Moderator: Anne Lipow, Library Solutions Institute
Don Bosseau, Library Director, San Diego State University
Ruth Hafter, Professor, San Jose State School of Library & Information Science
Hal R. Varian, Dean, School of Information Management & Systems, UC Berkeley

The panel entitled "Professional Schools Curricula & Continuing Education" began with Don Bosseau, Library Director, San Diego State University, describing the new challenges our profession is facing and changes that are required to meet these challenges. Libraries must respond to pressures as traditional workloads are increasing while we take on new technology. Under these circumstances, we can no longer survive by doing "business as usual." Before addressing changes required to adapt to new demands and to the move beyond libraries with fixed boundaries, Don described the unique strengths of our profession vis a vis the new- comers into the information arena. These strengths include concerns with equity of access to information, user-friendliness of interfaces, authenti- cation of originators of documents and their contents and an awareness of how people look for information. Library professionals must engage in more applied research to develop a theoretical foundation in order to understand how to apply knowledge within the context of new technology. Library school graduates must be able to cope with what "was not planned" as well as for what "was planned."

Our next speaker, Hal R Varian, Dean, School of Information Management & Systems, U.C. Berkeley, addressed developments in professional schools which will prepare professionals to meet the needs of the new information environment. He described SIMS as "computer science meeting social science." After briefly describing the history of computing to provide a context for the information professional Dr. Varian described SIMS interest in deter- mining where the jobs are and developing the curriculum to prepare grad- uates for these environments. He distinguished "knowledge" (e.g. information systems, administration, communication and policy) which is applied thoughout a career and taught in a more traditional mode from "skills" which need to be continually updated and taught through shorter more intensive courses. SIMS is interested in meeting the con- tinuing education needs for graduates to update skills necessary for hand- ling the rapidly developing changes in technology. The PhD program will involve collaboration with other disciplines such as computer science, business, economics, law and journalism and will utilize a more team- based, project-oriented approach.

Ruth Hafter, Professor, San Jose School of Library & Information Science explored the issue of continuing education or "how do we stay alive in our profession?" What do we need to do to remain excited and dynamic? Dr. Hafter described three major roles the professional school can play to assist practitioners: (1) Provide a place to broaden and deepen an understanding of core competencies as well as a place for discussion of issues unique and critical to our profession such as social responsibility, ethical concerns and literacy. (2) Provide direction for appropriate education and training. Professional schools can identify relevant pro- grams and contact people for practioners to achieve their goals. (3) Create a dynamic process for professionals by providing grants, and funding opportunities for experimentation and the creation of new products, discussion of new issues and teaching models and utilizing new technologies to teach people how to empower themselves.

The discussion following the presentations, moderated by Anne Lipow of Library Solutions Institute, addressed important concerns such as the humanistic aspects of librarianship, a need for better understanding of information seeking behavior, the need to develop an ability to alleviate patron fear of new technology and the development of better communication skills for addressing audiences outside of the traditional library environment.

Summary by Judy Thomsen, CSU Stanislaus

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