I worked the library school alumni event at the SLA conference for Syracuse University (where I am an adjunct). I was surprised to see what schools didn't participate. And it caused me to think about those library science programs that no longer exist. Since then, another library science program is in an uncomfortable position. The Buffalo News states:
UB's School of Informatics - not to be confused with its highly touted bioinformatics program - was among the first in the country when the School of Information and Library Studies and the department of communication were merged with much fanfare in 1999 to offer broader study of how communication is combined with information technology.
Provost Satish K. Tripathi, the No. 2 official at UB, informed faculty members last week that the department of communication will return under the umbrella of the College of Arts and Sciences, while the department of library and information studies will become part of the Graduate School of Education by the end of the fall semester.
Tripathi called it a realignment of academic programs. This arrangement makes more sense, and allows for more collaboration among departments, he said.
A follow-up article from Buffalo Business First is here. And there is a blog posting by one of the School's assistant professors here.
Although New York State has several universities with library science programs, since the late 1970s we have lost at least two (Geneseo and Columbia). Now the feeling is that we may be on the verge of losing another. If we are to train more librarians/information specialists, shouldn't we be creating more programs, not dismantling existing programs?
So here are questions to ponder:
- What can SLA do to help programs introduce new courses that teach emerging/needed skills for 21st century librarians?
- How can SLA (and the IT division specifically) help programs ensure that students have the right computer skills for the workforce?
- How can SLA help library schools recruit students?
- Can SLA do more to attract people to the profession and to MLS programs?
- Can SLA somehow help universities see the value in retaining or creating library science programs (perhaps part of an I-School)?
- Is there some role (perhaps as lobbyists) that our vendors/partners can play in ensuring that these programs remain viable (or innovative), perhaps by helping them understand the industry?