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Wednesday, February 7 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Session 2.4 Juried Panel: Core & More: Examining Foundational and Specialized Content in LIS Programs.

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The LIS field is encompasses a wide range of career paths and directions, all of which must be considered when preparing new LIS professionals. In addition to more traditional areas such as information organization and collection development, and dispositions like customer service orientation and interpersonal skills, employers are also looking for skills and qualifications in areas like emerging technologies, data management, design thinking, and cultural competency. It is incumbent on LIS schools to ensure that their curricula are meeting the needs of the field. But which skills are core—meaning that all students should have a foundation in those skills, regardless of their area of focus or ultimate career path—and which are specialized, meaning that only professionals in specific positions are likely to need those skills? How are core skills defined by professional associations and employers, and how can LIS programs create curricula that lay a foundation of core competencies while also addressing emerging areas?

LIS programs find guidance from professional associations like the American Library Association (ALA), the Society for American Archivists (SAA), and the Special Library Association (SLA), each of which publishes sets of competencies meant to guide program development and content. In the case of ALA, those competencies form part of the basis by which degree programs are accredited.

Because the MSLIS is a professional degree, and its focus is to prepare students for employment and professional practice, LIS faculty can also look to employers to understand current and emerging needs in the field. LIS faculty and program directors might ask employers directly what skills and qualifications they are seeking. They might also track job postings to identify required and preferred skills and qualifications, as well as new job titles and areas of responsibility.

This panel will bring together LIS educators, leaders of professional associations, practitioners, and recent graduates to discuss which competencies and knowledge areas should be considered core to the LIS field and to explore specialized skills, emerging areas, and trends in the field that will should impact employer expectations and LIS curriculum development. The panelists will share results of a spring 2017 survey, in which 1100 respondents ranked 53 skills on a scale of “core” to “specialized.” This survey was distributed to LIS faculty, alumni of an LIS program, internship and practicum supervisors, and other employers. The results suggest a range of skills that various constituencies believe to be core to the field, as well as some that are appear to be required only in specialized positions or settings. In an open-ended question, survey respondents suggested other skills and competencies. When coded an additional 50 categories of skills emerged that LIS programs are expected to address.

The panelists will examine how the survey results overlap with and diverge from the competency statements offered by professional associations, and with trends observed in job postings. Recent alumni panelists will discuss how the competencies from these various data sources align with their program experiences, and practitioners will share observations about how well interns and new graduates are prepared to take on professional roles, and which skills they find to be strong or lacking in their interns and new graduates. LIS faculty panelists will reflect on implications for curricular development.

In an interactive portion, the panelists will poll participants in real time about their impressions of what skills and competencies should be core or specialized, and panelists will respond to the poll results and questions. Time will also be allocated for open discussion.

With its focus on both foundational and emerging areas of LIS education, this panel aligns well with the ALISE Conference theme of “The Expanding LIS Education Universe.” Further, the panel composition promises that the discussion includes the perspectives of leaders of professional associations, students, and practitioners, as well as LIS educators. Attendees will gain new insight into what aspects of LIS curricula can be considered core and specialized, and will have a chance to discuss how LIS programs can best address these perspectives.

Wednesday February 7, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm MST
Standley II