iSchools respond to the ALA educational task force report
The iSchools (ischools.org) have written a response to the 2009 ALA Library Education Task Force report. Read the iSchools response.
The ALA task force report advocates a shift towards a prescriptive core curriculum, linked to accreditation, as a means of assuring that graduates share a common and well-understood set of knowledge and skills.
The deans of the iSchools are concerned about such a prescriptive approach, as library and information science is in a period of rapid change. Also, the deans feel that LIS master’s students require curricular flexibility, particularly in light of the relatively short duration of a master’s program, in order to achieve their professional goals.
The iSchools deans suggest that “Unless the substance of the core curriculum, and its articulation, are annually revisited and subjected to debate among educators, researchers, and practitioners, the curriculum will become outdated, and will act to retard the timeliness and relevance of the courses in which it is instantiated, and the programs in which they exist.”
The deans further recommend that “the most efficient means of achieving the outcomes that you (the ALA) desire would be to conduct empirical research leading to a genuine understanding of the needs of the profession and to consider how those needs are, or are not, being met by programs such as ours. We envision this work being conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect between those who teach and those who practice, and would willingly engage the expertise and resources of the iSchools in the achievement of such an outcome.”
The iSchools currently include 25 schools in North America, Europe and Asia, 15 of which offer graduate professional programs accredited by the ALA. The foundation of common interest among the iSchools lies in the shared interest in understanding the evolving relationship between information, people and technology. The iSchools take it as given that expertise in all forms of information is required for progress in science, business, education, and culture. This expertise includes understanding the uses and users of information, as well as information technologies and their applications. As such, each of the iSchools engages in exploratory research and curricular innovation and brings a set of unique strengths to the advancement of graduate education in the information professions.