Here I return to discussing Theory and Practicality in LIS graduate programs. Here’s my first post about it. Again, I can’t really speak for anyone else’s classroom experiences, but from what I’ve heard, other people are feeling similarly. Theory — an essential aspect to learning the core foundations of a well-established field (such as librarianship) — is being taught poorly. And here’s why it needs to change:
- When you’re working at a library, you don’t have time to ponder which theory best fits the person’s information needs. You need to make a quick decision for a way to help them.
- Memorizing theories and models is useful when you have time to spend reading the actual case studies behind them. But we (students) don’t have time. These case studies usually focus on the people who were studied. But when we’re thrown theory after model after theory after model, there’s really no way to digest everything. We spend too much time thinking about what to do instead of putting it into action. (There must be an information behavior model for that… right?)
- Which leads me to this final reason for changing the use of theory in LIS classes: Focusing on so many models, we’re sure to start leaning toward one that seems comfortable for us — UNTIL! — we read criticism about it. Then, we either find ourselves pondering ways to defend the theory we’ve come to know and love OR we drop it and head in another direction. We should be encouraged to know what other people in the LIS have done in similar situations, but we also need to learn when it is time to leave the theories behind and find another solution.
So, I’m clearly still stuck in this middle ground I talked about in the previous post. We need the theory to give us a foundation, but putting it all into practice seems to be the most rewarding experience I’ve had this far in my LIS schooling.
Here’s my plan: keep current with LIS and keep being an innovator. I think one of the most crucial ways for me to do this is to keep talking to my colleagues. One way I’ll do that is through Hack Library School. We’re redefining LIS through conversation, questions and collaboration! (Look for another post about that soon, but in the meantime, check it out!)