This question was more divisive than the others. Two issues stood out: online courses and theory. Both techs and MLISers were split on their desire for more/less theory, while most of the opinions about online courses came from techs. The most mentioned response was ‘diversity’, but it was difficult to ascertain specifically what kind of diversity respondents were looking for. Some responses referred to diversity of courses, some to the student body itself, while others were unclear. We have grouped them together on the chart below.
We also saw a few requests for longer practicums, which speaks to the overwhelming desire we saw throughout the survey for more practical work experiences to be integrated into education. Perhaps we need to further consider what practical work experience means: is it training for hands-on cataloguing or collection development, or is it experiences that demonstrate empathy and people skills or introduce students to diverse communities? What is it that we’re really looking for – or should be looking for – when it comes to these professional experiences?
Other common responses receiving votes: Better research methods (6), longer practicums (3).
Responses from Library Technicians:
> “More instructors (or at least guest speakers) who are currently working in field. More practical experience & exercises, less lectures & storytelling.”
> “Ability to take more of the specialized courses. More computer related courses. More reference. Program when I took it could easily have been one year, not two years. Felt stretched out.”
> “More focus on all ILS modules and how serials, cataloguing and acquisition functions work, instead of just circulation modules for check in and student account usage.”
> “More training on the art of producing call number labels and label covers (how best to print a spine label call number – i.e. how to separate out the various components of a call number; where to place the label on the spine; what font to use; etc.). More training for library technologists in archives work.”
> “I would like to see the course completed in 1 year or 18 months consecutively and less courses in communications writing, business application courses, the English component and Business courses. The program looks good but it feels padded with the other courses which I am not that interested in except I MUST take it as a requirement.”
> “The business courses we were required to take were unnecessary. The library philosophies class I think was also out of date and slightly unnecessary as well. More focus on the social aspect of libraries and how they are changing would be more beneficial.”
> “Better practicums – make sure the practicum hosts have a plan in place for the students to actually learn something not just follow someone around or sit there stamping books. This is hard to do in a union environment but there could be concessions made.”
> “A class on Library service to LGBTQ or gender diverse folks, including reader’s advisory (child/youth and adult) and specific customer service aspects when interacting with gender diverse folks.”
> “We learnt too much about digital aspects of the job and too little about the practical aspects – some childhood education theory would have been great because techs do often plan and implement programming for children.”
> “Less group work as I took the courses online. It’s pretty inconvenient trying to arrange groups and workloads when you are already taking the online courses due to a busy personal schedule.”
Responses from Librarians:
> “More opportunity for those of us wanting to be librarians to study library-related topics, instead of information-related topics. This seemed to be the case if you were interested in youth services, but if you weren’t, you had few choices. Of course they are related but they are not exactly the same. I felt like the degree was still in the middle of an identity crisis between the “L” and the “I” in MLIS.”
> “Improve research skills class and stress importance of engaging in scholarly communication.”
> “I would have wanted more theory to be able to help address some of the challenges facing libraries in terms of addressing the needs of all members of the community and to be able to fulfill the goals of libraries to be part of providing services for civic engagement. That was talked about as a goal, but I do not think many received the skills to make sure a library they were managing would actualize that.”
> “Not making research classes required, but making it clear it’s required if a student wants to do a thesis or for the PhD program. less theory in some courses, make it more practical. Ensure the software/programs used in courses are current and commonly used in libraries.”
> “higher standard of expectations for classes taught by adjuncts (I found the quality varied wildly).”
> “I would have liked to see the management course taught more along the lines of a leadership program, such as NELI, PNLA, or LLEAD.”
> “I would like to see my MLIS program acknowledge that some of the students are there to get a degree and get a job while others are there to continue on to a PhD. I would love to see the school find a better way to service the unique needs of these two groups without undermining the credentials of the MLIS program.”
Project Coordinator, BCLA