Friday, January 11, 2008

A School of Doing

Is anyone aware of a library school where students actually run, staff and are responsible for a working library?

In theory an unserved or under-served area could be paired and served by a school of aspiring librarians who learn by doing (often the best way to learn).

This model seems to work well for the culinary arts, automotive, cosmetology, advertising etc, professions - Is there any reason it couldn't work in Library Science? (or Information Science - where perhaps "real world" project work could be offered at a discount to outside organizations? )

After being introduced to the principles of librarianship, and guided along the way by complementary class work (and perhaps the class of students ahead of them who get practice training), wouldn't having students run, staff and be responsible for a working library (along with all of the user interaction that entails) go a long ways towards satisfying those who feel current curriculums don't do enough to prepare students for "real-world" work?

Logistics of course would need to be worked out - perhaps the community served, the educational institution and if needed, a corporate sponsor could contribute to funding such a school of doing (and all at a discount from what would be needed if each were the sole funder of a traditional library), but creating this kind of environment would seem like a great way to further the profession's mission (providing access to information), while at the same time providing students with a "real world" education that would improve upon already invaluable educational experiences like practicums.

Above a one-time practicum or exercise, a school of doing would provide students with a more holistic picture of the contemporary library environment while immersing them in interaction with a vital element of our profession that is increasingly getting the attention it deserves - users.

What are your thoughts? Are you aware of any such schools? Any overriding reason why this wouldn't be a good idea or couldn't be done? Could existing schools transition to this model?

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