Sunday, February 12, 2006

Future librarians?

The effectiveness of library schools -- what they should and shouldn't be teaching and doing -- has been bandied about in blogs recently, e.g., Technology and Education: Are Library Schools Doing Enough? on Tame the Web blog.

Another blog (I forget which) posted a reference to the article "Crying Wolf: An Examination and Reconsideration of the Perception of Crisis in LIS Education".

Coming up in April in Singapore there's the Asia-Pacific Conference on Library and Information Education and Practice (A-LIEP)-- entitled "Preparing Information Professionals for Leadership in the New Age". I'm particularly looking forward to it because some of my former professors from Charles Sturt University (Australia) will be attending -- and I hope to meet them for the first time. Having done my masters via distance learning (while living in Phuket, Thailand -- never having been to Australia), technology was an integral part of my library science education.

In terms of preparing for the future, one theorist few people in librarianship seem to be paying attention to is Richard Lanham.

Okay, he's not a librarian, but he has a strong vision of the role librarians should be playing in the Attention Economy. Over ten years ago he addressed the ARL (Association of Research Libraries) and outlined "The Economics of Attention", a concept he then turned into an article in 1997 (available on his website), and now a book is due out in May 2006 from the Univ of Chicago Press.
In an information-rich world where human attention is the scarce commodity, the library's business is orchestrating human attention-structures.
He was lamenting the closure of university library schools back in 1997 ( see his essay "A Computer-based Harvard Red Book: General Education in the Digital Age") precisely because he feels librarians are ideally placed to become the architects managing the convergence of content, delivery, and manipulation of information.

I'm hooked on his idea of attention-structures and thinking about how rhetoric plays into the new literacies in the school library.


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