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On the 2.0 Job Description: Part 1

Submitted by Michael Stephens on March 21, 2006 - 11:31am

Evaluating Our Institutions and Education
The posting of a job at Wayne State University Libraries back in January was worthy of note to me because it was the first time I'd seen Web 2.0 tools specifically mentioned in a job ad. The 2.0 meme was indeed unfurling into many facets of libraries. A few weeks later, Jenny Levine posted about another job—this time for a school media specialist with definite 2.0 duties.

As part of a team charged with updating and aligning all of the SJCPL jobs, I spent a lot of time one year rewriting and redefining various job descriptions, so these recent job offerings intrigued me.

From an academic standpoint I was intrigued too: Were the LIS schools offering the classes needed to educate librarians expected to perform these duties? I had introduced my section of LIS753 Internet Fundamentals and Design at Dominican to blogging and other tools and had required the group projects to focus on such things as wikis, podcasting, RSS, and 21st-Century Library Web sites. I was glad to participate in a panel discussion on the topic of technology in LIS education at the Ontario Library Association, and the topic would make for an excellent ALA or ALISE program as well.

When the Canadian Public Librarian 2.0 job went up, I posted again, and this time Chris Harris commented: "As the guy hiring for the School Media Specialist one, the real question will be what type of applicants did we get? The posting closes tomorrow, so I will have to see what this brings. I am worried that there may not be a huge applicant pool of candidates emerging from library school ready to step in and tackle Web 2.0...much less Library 2.0 ideas."

In my thinking, there are two charges here—one to libraries and another to library schools.

Number One
Libraries may want to evaluate and redefine certain jobs as we move more and more into a user-centered, user-driven environment, in which primary duties may include creating online tools for collaboration and creation, developing innovative programs, and serving as instructors and "strategy guides" for users. The dilemma: What duties and processes need to roll off job descriptions in order to make room for such tasks? What does this mean for our institutions?

John Blyberg has written about the flattening of library organizational charts, and I concur. Last fall at Chicago Public Library someone asked us, “What is the shape of the future library?" I responded that I believe it will be much flatter and made up of workgroups or teams that collaborate in many different permutations.

Number Two
Library schools should evaluate the technology-focused courses they offer and make sure they are aligned with what is soon to be expected of recent graduates. Steven MacCall's health sciences-librarianship course, augmented with library 2.0/Web 2.0 principles and tools, provides a touchstone for how one LIS professor is answering this charge. Last summer at UNT, Dr. Samantha Hastings urged our cohorts to try out a wiki for collaboration and conversation. We built pages devoted to group projects, and all of us could watch the evolution of our digital reference papers.

I'm fascinated to see the next wave of job descriptions coming from libraries that are on the cutting edge of future thinking, that are driven by user needs. I'm equally fascinated to see how library schools respond to these tools as well.

LIS Students that read TechSource—what have you experienced so far to prepare you for a 2.0 world? Please comment or e-mail me! Technorati tags: information science, information science studies, library education, library schools, library2.0, library 2.0, web2.0, web 2.0

Comments (5)

I graduated from Wayne State

I graduated from Wayne State University's LIS program in summer 2009. I would not recommend Wayne State's LIS program. Pursuing a LIS master's degree for a school media specialist position, their weren't enough practical, hands-on technology classes offered in the core program or 38 credits. Although they stressed the importance of collaborating with teachers in terms of integrating technology into their units, they did not provide any physical, hands-on operation of any media equipment, e.g., connecting laptops to LCD projectors or DVD units, using white boards, etc. For example, there was not one white board/Smartboard in Wayne State's LIS program. How were we supposed to act as technology leaders in our school libraries if we graduated from a master's program that, for example, never gave us the opportunity to use operate a Smartboard? Further, many of these 'how to use technology equipment' classes were only offered online with adjunct professors. . . Personally, I don't think they had enough qualified full-time faculty to teach these on campus. Sevreal of my older profs acted as if they were afraid of technology. Further, none of my classes required that we be Web 2.0 savvy. Although they talked a good talk, I was never required to create a blog or wiki for any of my courses. And the only really good school media instructor they did have, Marcia Mardis, was suddenly gone one day. They informed us through a mass email with a very vague explanation. And no one ever heard anything of her again. The Media Specialsit Dept. at Wayne State Univeristy's Library and Information Science Program has much to be desired.

I thank that this is a good

I thank that this is a good wed for some one that is looking for a job in the doctor part thank you for the info......

I am intrigued by your

I am intrigued by your article. As a jobseeker this semester, I think writing one's own job description in a cover letter is great. I plan to include 2.0 experience in every one I write. I have been working with technology for over eleven years and remember Mosaic and old Mac terminals. 2.0 has changed the way we think about libraries. We can reach more audiences and advocate for more subjects library and non-library-related.

Hi, Michael,rnrnI

Hi, Michael,

I graduated from San Jose State University's School of Library and
Information Science in December and am searching for my first librarian
position, so I appreciate your posts on evolving job descriptions.

One of the most useful classes I took at SJSU was Linda Main's
Information Technology Tools and Applications, which gave me a very
thorough introduction to networking and Internet applications. We
designed and built Web sites throughout the semester, and topics
covered included XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, XML, RSS, and WML. I loved the
class, and I would have taken more advanced technology courses, but
competition for spots in the introductory class is so tight that I
didn't get into it until I was almost finished with my MLIS. In my
opinion, this class should be included in the core series students are
required to complete within the first two semesters.

Students at SJSU complete a "Culminating Experience" as an exit
requirement for the MLIS program. One of the topics I chose to write on
for my CE included questions on library blogging, Web site usability,
and Web design for diverse audiences, as well as the tools listed
above. The topic was very useful to me as a way to strengthen my
knowledge of basic Web technologies, but I would have liked to see it
expand to include some more forward-looking topics.

While I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to study some
interactive Web technologies in my MLIS program, and to have had my
interest ignited by an enthusiastic instructor, I think it's important
to note that I had to choose to study these technologies. It's entirely
possible for a student to complete an MLIS at SJSU without engaging
with the issues surrounding emerging Web technologies. I'd like to see
more emphasis on making technology-oriented courses approachable to
people who enter the program with very basic computer skills, and I'd
like to see user created content and social software addressed as more
than a sidenote. SJSU is very good at teaching its students to use
traditional digital resources, but the program would be improved by
including active student participation in Web 2.0 projects.

Hi Michael!rnrnAs the

Hi Michael!

As the author of the posting for the NextGen Librarian position at Wayne State University I feel both compelled to answer and qualified to offer an opinion!

The Wayne State University Libraries ( are fortunate enough to have an ALA-accredited LIS program on our campus. ( Our enrollment currently stands at more than 550 students. Many of our students are also employed at a variety of libraries, archives and museums throughout the region. They come to us with a variety of work and school experiences.

Some of these students have the opportunity to work for the WSU libraries while enrolled in the LIS program. Others continue to work at their primary institutions during the day and attend classes at night. As a result, we all benefit by sharing our experiences with each other. In particular, there is one class in the LIS program that routinely presents their findings from a research project to the Dean. Those presentations have led to some practical changes, including website enhancements.

More than the technology itself I’m concerned that librarians develop instructional design skills so that they are able to design resources and services that are effective AND that they are able to evaluate those resources and services. I’m particularly interested in the work of Steven Bell and John Shank and their emphasis on the “blended librarian� concept ( For those who are not familiar with their work, the “blended librarian� is someone who combines traditional library science skills with skills associated with an instructional designer.

I’m pleased to say that at Wayne State our LIS students can choose from a variety of courses that are cross-listed between LIS and the Instructional Technology program, which is in the College of Education. These IT classes provide the foundation necessary in understanding instructional design theories and principles.

While I think it’s certainly important to offer more training in these technologies, I also feel that additional training in their effective use is important as well. Both will be necessary if we want to successfully implement them at our institutions.