Theory vs Practice

What happens when you combine 8-12 future librarians with a patio full of pumpkins? You get a conversation about theory and practice in library school curriculum. And this.

The discussion my colleagues and fellow-pumpkin-gutters had yesterday helped me realize one more thing about my MLIS experience. Our curriculum is ‘supposedly’ theoretical-based. It’s what we’re known for. But, we don’t know if that’s the right way to go anymore. Heavy on the theory — with a dash of practice if you have time. 

The faculty and instructors are realizing this, too. Shift happens — during required, core classes. One instructor teaches using strong theory while another provides no readings and puts us in workshops and presentations without any strategy. When we’re in the theory-based class, we complain because we want something more practical. We want to know what life is going to be like in the “real world” of library management or how to actually DO research. But, when we’re in the practice-based classes, we’re told to prepare a workshop to teach small business-owners how to use the library’s resources and we’re perplexed because we have no strategy or theory to act as a foundation for our planning.
So this leads us to a somewhat disappointing conclusion — we’re halfway through our program and we are right in the middle of a shift. We’re going to miss out on important LIS theory and practice, but we have the responsibility to be leaders in this new LIS field. We might not be satisfied with any of our classes, but we should take what we can get. It’s our right and responsibility to ask questions and debate the answers so we’re prepared to lead LIS into the future. 
At least we have each other. And Superman.

5 Responses to Theory vs Practice

  1. Murray says:

    You hit on exactly what I've been feeling as well.

  2. Heidi says:

    Thanks, Murray. I'm glad we're all in this together. ha. It is kind of frustrating, but I'm thankful to have such intelligent classmates.

  3. Lyndsey says:

    Hi you. I am thinking and talking about this too. I am thinking of holding a afternoon long meeting sponsored by ALISS to get input from MLIS students about how WE want our curriculum to look like…

  4. Heidi says:

    I will attend that meeting! Thanks, Pres.

  5. […] 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 […]

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