I loved Michael Stephens' Office Hours column this week, "Seek a Challenge:"
Coasting, in library school and in our jobs, is not an option. Sending students who have coasted through their LIS program to your library to coast perpetuates this problem. I can tell which students are merely sailing through their program, just as I can tell when a professor has “checked out” of his or her own job.
Students—are you doing the bare minimum in your LIS program? Are you turning in “good enough” papers that show no excitement, curiosity, or passion for librarianship? Or are you going above and beyond the expectations of your teachers? You get what you bring to your program.
The onus for change lies with both students and LIS faculty. Students should provide constructive evaluations of their learning experience. Faculty should respond with curricular changes and updated course offerings as quickly as possible. Library school administration should enable these conversations about change in an open, transparent process. LIS programs must be nimble and quick if they are to survive in the current economy.
It's nice to see someone else (and someone with significantly more professional and academic clout than I) acknowledge this elephant in the room. One of my gripes about library school was that it was the path of least resistance - students put in the bare minimum and walk away with the same grades as their more dedicated peers. I resisted openly talking about this issue out of fear of coming across as smug.
Recent blog posts have discussed the need for change at the top, change at the bottom, change sideways, how to make the change, etc. There's no one golden ticket to reform/fix/transform LIS education. It's a collaborative effort. All the stakeholders are going to have to ante up to the table and place your bets. No one's looking at their hand and folding, claiming they can't do this or that for their students because of lack of funding, time, etc.
Whatever path to reform taken, there is one thing necessary - comprehension of the importance of challenge and personal growth. Several of the librarians on Twitter have the rallying cry of "#makeithappen." I encourage you to go forth and do the same - go make something happen. Even if it's a small self goal you tend to excuse off time and again, do it. Once you conquer the smaller goals, the larger ones get easier. And you might just be an inspiration to others.
Go all in with your chips, even when you don't know what your opponent's cards are. Challenge yourself to be better, faster, stronger, smarter. You and the world will be better for it.