The Academic Research Library in a Decade of Change

What a difference a decade makes: transformation in academic library instruction
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The help desk will be open during all Saturday hours but will close at 10 p. The more difficult part of the cuts, Carr said, is making sure that everyone on campus knows about the changes. And while the library as a whole will be closed, several services will still be available despite the curtailed hours. Lehner 24 hour Study Area located on the first floor which contains six computers a printer, two self-checkout machines on the second floor which will still be available after the help desk is closed and all online resources will still be available all day, every day.

In addition to the decrease in hours, Hale is also cutting a few research materials by discontinuing several journal subscriptions as the costs of those subscriptions have increased more than 21 percent since At the time, the hours were extended because of the influx of traffic Hale received between 10 p. Tuesday, September 24, Sign in. Forgot your password? Get help. Password recovery. The Collegian.

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At this time, librarians were needed to fill the jobs available in all the newly-built Carnegie-funded libraries. At least 20 new schools were founded and accredited during the s alone Paris, At the same time the current information explosion began during World War II and the post war research that was funded by the government.

Much of this funding, under the guise of defense research, went to major universities and was used for other educational programs, including library schools. People handling the resulting information changed from being merely shufflers of paperwork to organizers of massive quantities of information - usually within the government or corporate environment.

In the American Society of Information Scientists ASIS was founded to address the needs of these new information scientists and special librarians. Yet thinkers such as Ralph Shaw, Ernest Richardson, Jesse Shera, and more recently, Herbert White continued to question the validity of continuing to use the practical approach. These men felt that librarianship lacked a solid theoretical foundation or knowledge base, and that the profession would inevitably need to prove its worth and identity not only to itself, but to the people that it served.

Library schools largely ignored the critics' voices, and the developments in the new field of information science. This denial of the information revolution and the resulting multiplicity of types of information enhanced the "splintering" White, of the profession between traditional librarians and library schools and information scientists p. During this time, the total number of MLS graduates decreased from 5, in to 3, in Paris, Compared with the all time high of 70 programs in Hyman, there are currently 56 accredited programs in North America American Library Association, Both external and internal factors played large roles in library school closures and their subsequent attempts to survive.

Many librarian positions were abandoned and filled by less expensive paraprofessionals, which further led to a decrease in positive identity for the profession Gardner, ; Paris, As a result, enrollments decreased, as did enrollments of students in higher education overall. Faculty numbers decreased to an all time low today of 5 to 35 full time faculty per school, and their turnover rate is high Robbins, Library schools had simply grown too rapidly for the number of librarians required.

A large part of this problem could have been avoided with strategic planning and an eye for the changes occurring in the information paradigm. Because library schools were slow to respond to the information paradigm shift or "major change in the way librarians do their work" Ostler et al.

Competition included not only the fact of commodification of information which they still failed to teach and acknowledge , but competition from other educators -- the corporations themselves. Corporations began to spend billions on employee training and education Boehm, Other degree programs on campus such as communications, information studies, computer science, and business adapted to meet the needs of the information industry Saracevic, Finally, the demise of the Cold War affected federal research dollars received by universities.

The government encouraged universities to make private partnerships with corporations to make up for some of the financial loss. Universities began to develop bottom line accounting principles and a scrutinizing eye towards the profitablility of each and every program on campus Aronowitz, Library schools tended to be the smallest programs on campus with the least amount of revenue both in terms of student tuition and alumni donations.

Marion Paris in her landmark study of the closing of four library schools noted that a frequent harbinger of a school's closing was its tendency to isolate itself from the rest of the departments on campus Hyman, Paris and others also felt that some schools closed due to lack of faculty and administrative leadership Ostler et al.

Related to these issues are the age-old realities of simple campus politics. Faculty members were not seen or even known by the rest of the university, and when they were recognized, were viewed as "dead wood in the sense of not being interested in the way the world was changing" Paris, , p. As Kniffel states, "library schools serve two masters…[and] ALA is not the one who pays the bills" p. Research, or lack thereof, was another important factor in provoking universities to close down library schools. By the early part of this century, American universities began to model themselves on the German system, which heavily emphasized the importance of original research in the advance of scholarship.

For example, theoretical research is more respected than practical research, especially if scientific. Humanities inevitably place last in the research pecking order. Library science, rife with identity problems and straddling an uncertain theoretical body of knowledge, is particularly at risk for academic disapproval and has even been referred to as an "academic impostor" Manley, , p. Other professional schools such as law, medicine, and especially education, have had to face disapproval for having to focus too much on the practical, yet all three disciplines are seen as vital to society, and alumni in at least the first two disciplines tend to donate large sums to their alma maters.

Ironically, accreditation has not played much of a role in library school closings Paris, ; Large, ; Gardner, ; White, Others, such as Saracevic disagree, and feel that because accreditation standards have not been stringent enough, programs have not been forced to really evaluate their curricula and bring them up to date. Finally, university administrators believed that other universities could always replace lost library school programs, not realizing that smaller universities were also closing their programs Paris, In response to the above internal and external factors, library schools began to change their names to include some form of the word "information".

Permutations range from "information studies" to "information management" or "information science". By , By , at least three schools no longer had the word "library" in them at all, and some, like the School of Information Management at the University of California at Berkeley, have not sought ALA accreditation at all. Thus, schools began to recognize the information paradigm shift, the growing commodification of information and the resulting information industry that was taking the corporate world by storm.

Schools began to notice competition from other departments on campus and desired to attract students who might otherwise be turned away from librarianship due to stereotypes or the plain economic fact that traditional librarians tend to have low salaries. Name changes were the quickest tactic to attract more students and their tuition dollars.

The broader the name, the more students the school might attract. At first, the name changes were "cosmetic" only and curricular changes came slowly Ostler et al. Most important, use of the word "information" indicated progressiveness Biggs and Bookstein, and helped change the image of library science.

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Another factor was the desire to cultivate a corporate image Martin, because library schools could then boast to their parent institutions and prospective students of the high salaries graduates now received in corporate settings. Most proponents of library school name changes agree that the changes are important in recruiting a new type of student. Changing librarianships' negative stereotypical image is cited as an important reason.

Another important factor is psychological. Name changes show academe and potential students that the field of information science is not limited to librarianship, and that information science education can lead to non-traditional, higher paying jobs once again, usually in the corporate world. Library schools today are adamant about divorcing librarianship from the physical institution of the library.

Table of Contents

Naturally, others disagree heartily with the name changes, finding them superficial at best and an utter betrayal of the profession at worst. While proponents of the changes believe the name changes will improve relations with the rest of academe, critics feel that universities will see the new titles as simply another attempt by a low-ranking discipline to manipulate words in order to raise its status Crowley, And while name changes may appear to be a token effort to address the reality of the information paradigm shift, it takes time and strategic planning to develop a corresponding curriculum that is properly balanced between theoretical and practical education.

In this sense, name changes, especially with the plethora of permutations of the word "information", can be evidence again of the identity crisis within which library schools are involved Bohannan, What are such schools, really? More library school than information science school?

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Or vice versa? These questions lead one directly back to the definitions described above -- definitions that provide few answers except to show that as a profession, librarianship is still struggling to define itself and its schools. As stated above, name changes did not always bring immediate curricular changes.

Ironically, what they did often foster were antagonistic relationships with other departments on campus which felt that library schools were encroaching on their academic territory. To strengthen programs as well as to eliminate political dissent, several schools set up interdisciplinary, cooperative degree programs with other schools on campus, offering joint or merged degrees. In Rutgers was the first such program to be subsumed into a broader interdisciplinary program, now taught under the School of Communication Studies.

Both the School of Information at the University of Michigan and the School of Library and Information Science at Louisiana State University are other examples of schools who have either completely abdicated their independence as separate library school programs, or who have developed joint degree programs. These changes are not necessarily negative. In , Boaz advocated for interdisciplinary cooperation to strengthen the failing schools. White, however, disagrees.

Losing independence can be a first step to losing the program entirely. He also wonders who the new dean of such programs will be -- and surmises that the dean is most likely going to come from the computer science department rather than the library school White, Library school education in and of itself is interdisciplinary and needs no further "strengthening" by diluting itself with other departments.

Such a stance only serves to weaken librarianship's self-identity further by prohibiting the realization that we are a unique profession with a unique perspective White, Thirty years ago, when library school graduates were expected to work in traditional libraries, core courses focused on practical skills such as reference sources and cataloging.

These skills are still important today, but the problem is that a reference librarian in one setting may be using a very different set of sources than a reference librarian in another. The importance of traditional cataloging has been de-emphasized with the emergence of national union catalogs such as OCLC and RLIN, which provide ready to use records for millions of materials.

The result has been the introduction of classes with broader titles and curricular content, such as "information technology", "organization of information" or "management of organizations". The main question is: What kind of a core can provide a solid background for students who will inevitably specialize and end up in diverse positions? Most schools today are attempting to create a core grounded in enough basic theory to provide a common ground for all students, regardless of what specialty they may choose.

To this day, Saracevic argues, all we have done is added on a few theoretical classes here and there to a required core, but have not really defined a true theory of librarianship, nor made it accessible to students. Educators such as White that dislike new changes claim that it is all being done to "impress higher-level administrators with the appearance of newly found academic rigor" p.

Yet White also is very much in favor of teaching theory - he is complaining about the hastily "patched together" curriculum that only proves to be a disservice to library school students. By , cataloging and classification were no longer required courses for graduation from many MLS programs Marcum Educators hailed this development as a positive change. Because of the development of the national bibliographic utilities, educators argued, many functions currently performed by librarians in cataloging will and now are assigned to paraprofessional staff.

A decade of change: running a university E-Press

This book starts from the premise that the last decade has brought more changes for the academic research library than any ever previously known. The book. The strategic issues: An overview; Towards the academic digital library: The role of the Joint Information Systems Committee; What users want; Case study.