LIS Education Part IV

In this 4th entry, I will take my argument to it’s logical (I think) conclusion: implementation.

Up to this point, I’ve illuminated several areas where I feel as if LIS schools are not providing their students with an appropriate education. The second blog entry detailed how context is arguably the most important differentiation between having tech classes and a digital curriculum. Without providing this context there is very little to glue these classes together. And if these classes are not bound together than there are few compelling reasons for students to remember individual concepts within classes. After all, if there is no overarching meaning, than so what? My third entry addresses the question as to whether or not LIS schools represent the most appropriate venues for this kind of education. In this case, I find the argument that LIS schools are not job training centers true to a point, but also misleading. LIS programs are NOT job training/placement centers in that they are not obligated to help their students find employment. However LIS programs are responsible with providing their students with the proper tools students need to QUALIFY for future employment opportunities. In this day and age, an increasingly common requirement is that students must possess some familiarity with XML, HTML, Javascript, etc. While current course offerings may suffice, LIS schools should be preparing their students or at least offering their students the option to obtain a comprehensive digital education. I’ve repeatedly stated that a digital centric workplace requires a digital centric mindset. Many of the tools taught in traditional LIS courses still hold true, but their digital implementations can differ substantially from analog.

It bears noting that there are outliers. However these people are not the target of this blog series. This proposed program is for the average LIS student and not those people who were/are planning on enter the tech field anyway.

So what would a digital curriculum look like?

Level 1

All introductory Archival/Library classes

  • – It’s incredibly important that the basic principles are learned.

Introductory XML/Javascript class

  • – Students should be introduced to basic XML, and javascript


  •  Digital track students should start an internship in their first semester.
  • -This internship should continue for at least 1 year, and hopefully for the entire time a student spends in the program. There are several reasons for requiring a long term internship. The first reason is that it would allow a student to not only gain knowledge in their particular job, but also allow them to see how knowledge, personal goals, and business goals intersect, conflict and ultimately, lead to a finalized product. This is a relationship that cannot be properly understood in 60 or even 120 hours.

Level 2

 Applying basic library/archival principles to digital

  •  How do principles such as original order, provenance, open access, and  content management work in the digital field. How are they different, how do they stay the same? The idea is to create a link between the analog world and digital, while also emphasizing the need for an extremely flexible mindset.

Applying XML/Javascript/etc.

  •  Now it’s time for students to apply the skills they’ve learned to the real world. This should be done in accordance with their internship. The goal is to integrate the classroom and business worlds. Additionally, students will be tasked with attempting to understand the underlying structures with some of the internet’s most important applications/programs

Introduction to DTDs/Schemas/Domains/etc

  •  Students should be exposed to the building blocks of XML schemas, dtds, domains and their intellectual meaning.

Level 3

Capstone semester

  • The goal is to take all of the concepts learned, and applied over the preceding semesters and marry them. It is incredibly important that students observe, learn, and actively practice what is taught. They need to understand WHY they took that boring information management class, or the seemingly useless XML class. At this point they should have to start actively, and creatively applying these skills. The goal is to graduate a student that is not only well versed in the basic problems confronting the digital environment, but also how to potentially solve them. Or more importantly, they should leave the program with an appropriate mindset: nothing is holy, everything is malleable, but there are always caveats.

Thoughts? Comments?


2 responses to “LIS Education Part IV

  1. I’m actually taking the XML class offered by Simmons right now. I’m not sure if it was offered when you were attending, but if not, perhaps you and Simmons are on the same page regarding curriculum. We’re currently learning about DTDs and XML Schemas. In later lessons we’re scheduled to at least touch upon such technologies as Perl, XML DOM, and Javascript.

    This is one of the classes I’m taking in order to create my own concentration around IT-centric classes. I only have one semester under my belt and when I started I was trying to find out what types of concentrations there were. Coming from an IT background (where I still work full time) I was looking along those lines. No such one existed…yet. I do, however, think it’s fast becoming known that one needs to be created. So, thanks for such a great series of blog entries!

    • LIS 488? I actually only finished up in May 2011 so I don’t think there are too many new openings since I left.

      The problem as I see it is that there is no defined track, nor are the amount of allowed electives conducive to most students who aim to create IT centric course loads.

      I’m in the middle of talks w/ Simmons to host a panel discussion on establishing a digital centric curriculum. Get the word out, start talking about it, and let’s continue this discussion!

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