The ALA just finished creating a report on core competencies of a library education.

I’ll admit, I’m rather skeptical about these reports. Often they are so large and so overwhelming that their true impact is diluted. Nonetheless, this may serve as a fundamental shift, so it’s worth taking a glance at.

Core Competencies

This is the meat of the report. Here are what they identify as the core competencies:

  • Foundations of the Profession
  • Information Resources
  • Organization of Recorded Knowledge and Information
  • Technologies Knowledge and Skills
  • Reference and User Services
  • Research
  • Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning
  • Administration and Management

What does it mean?

The first one to jump out at me was ‘research’. Note, this is not reference. This is the whole ‘deliver me a ten-page paper on the history of the codex’ type stuff. Hmmm. No. I’ll admit I like research. I think it’s fun (hence my excessive use of the library as an undergrad and choice of it as a career), but this is hardly a core competency of a librarian.
In fact, I’ll go a step further. The focus on research at the graduate level is bad for the profession. Personally I agree with my old instructor who claimed that we should “kill the term paper. . .Kill it DEAD”. The truth is that most of my fellow students will not be researching in their careers. And many of those that do only appear to do it out of pure necessity. Really, I’d love to see a cut on the number of library publications and a bump in article quality.

Technology

I was disappointed in this section. It, like any discussion of technology in the library school is weak and unfocused. First it should be pointed out there are only 4 subpoints compared to 11 for “Foundations of the Profession” (including 1J “effective communication techniques (verbal and written)” What? Is this a job ad?).
The subpoints talk about ability to assess and apply and so on, but nothing about being able to use technologies, to develop or implement. Now I know that one cannot be an expert on everything, but there can never be a good solid evaluation if there is not at least some knowledge of how things work. Really, this is just a half-hearted attempt to mention technology without any really substantive effort to increase tech literacy among graduate students.

In the end

I guess in the end, though, it’s not too bad. There wasn’t nearly as much fluffy stuff about history, ethics and things like that (those were all grouped under the first point). I was happy that there is an emphasis on management as well as actual tangible skills such as reference. The question is will this report actually lead to anything?

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