British Columbia Library Association

The Perspectives Education Survey

By BCLA Perspectives Editors

This was our first time attempting a survey of this magnitude and the responses were overwhelming. In total, 128 participants contributed to our questionnaire on the past, present, and future of library education. 

We asked seven questions: five essay and two multiple choice. The essay questions were designed to gather opinions on a range of library education related issues, while the multiple-choice questions provided demographics of respondents. 

In this section of The Education Issue, each question from the survey has its own article. At the top of each article we’ve summarized the overarching theme of the responses, followed by a graph charting the most common responses. Below the charts we gathered a collection of some thoughtful, constructive responses. All are reprinted anonymously.

Of the 128 people who responded, the vast majority were still working in the library field:Professional status of survey respondentsResponses were mainly from graduates of programs in British Columbia, but a quarter were from other universities around North America:

EducationIn general, the responses indicate that people are more pleased with the things that can be taught easily in the classroom: the principles, the theory, the practical execution of concepts like cataloguing, database design, and information retrieval. 

There are some positive response as well in terms of what we learned FROM the academic environment: working with others, managing personal deadlines and projects, and networking and making connections.

Where people seem less happy: the intangibles that are hard to teach in the classroom: community service, effective and engaging programming, outreach, connecting to and serving your community. Also the unknown ever-changing aspects of the job, like technological skills and developments.

Overall, the responses were a mix of positive and negative academic experiences. Collectively, they summarised both hopeful and despondent views of how the profession is evolving. It seems that each program has its highs and lows, and while some people love one element, others might not. 

But, whether a student, tech, librarian, archivist, one thing we learned is that we’re having many of the same conversations with colleagues in and outside the classroom, and everyone agrees that education is a lifelong part of what we do.

Finally, this survey was posed from the student perspective. For another outlook, check out our interviews with administrators: the heads of the library programs at UBC, UFV, and Langara highlight what they’re doing to prepare students to become librarians and how they see education evolving in the future.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out the questionnaire!

BCLA Perspectives Editors Kristina McGuirk, Tim McMillan, and Nolan Kelly

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