Need for ICT Competency Framework for Library and Information Science Education
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Until the arrival of the internet in the 1970s, the practical approach to library education, advocated by Melvin Dewey, acted as the foundation of library school programs around the world. There was a clear distinction between what was considered library science and what fell under information science. But the uneasy marriage between library science and information science in the last quarter of the 20th century has led to an identity crisis in Library and Information Science (LIS) field, as rightly underlined by Andrew Dillon, Professor of the School of Information at the University of Texas, in his keynote address to the Sixth International Conference on "Conceptions of Library and Information Science (LIS)" in 2007. The debate, however, has intensified in recent years due to rapidly evolving information landscape and the transformation of library roles. Several questions arise about the impact of information technologies on the field, the core competencies and skills required from the new generation of library and information professionals, and the role of library and information science (LIS) education and its connection to practice. Furthermore, the recent economic recession and drastic cuts in library funding have also placed new demands on LIS educational programs as new graduates compete for jobs in a market with high expectations but few opportunities. Today, professionals seeking jobs in public and academic libraries must not only have a Master's degree from an accredited LIS program to meet the minimum requirements, but also need to demonstrate a wide range of technical competencies and effective communication and collaboration skills. The knowledge of information literacy, networking, communication and retrieval technologies has become very essential to the Profession. This environment has made it important for LIS Schools to strive to improve their quality of programmes to be able to participate in educational networks and develop innovative strategies in planning and administration of LIS education. Consequently, LIS curriculum need to consolidate ICT concepts, knowledge, skills and proficiency into core competencies in order to prepare LIS graduates to adapt and use ICTs effectively.
Different educational models for preparing future library professionals exist throughout the world today. In many European countries, LIS education has developed independently without a unifying accrediting body as in the case of United States and Canada. For example, Denmark and Norway builds upon a four-year Bachelor's degree in library science or information studies as a foundation for more advanced degrees. The preparation for librarianship in Australia and other former British colonies have the influence of the British tradition of apprenticeship and vocational training. However, in recent years their study curricula have also been shaped following the U.S library practices and educational models. Library science teaching and training in South Africa has followed a similar path, blurring the distinction between library science and information science, and this has had an impact on curriculum design and content. The LIS curriculum development have shown considerable strides in infusing ICT competencies as most LIS Schools in U.S and other Developing countries have merged relevant ICT knowledge in traditional curriculum. The U.S model for educating library professionals builds upon broad college education and concentrates on a two-year Master degree in LIS as an essential component of the professional preparation for the field. The accreditation process done by the American Library Association (ALA) is one of the important component of this model that not only provides a mechanism for ensuring standards and quality but also reaffirms the ties between the diverse programs and schools that engage in preparing future LIS professionals.
The curriculum of the ALA- accredited Master's programs comprised of a set of core courses and electives that are intended to provide future professionals with substantial theoretical knowledge, essential competencies, and an understanding of the fundamental values of the profession. However, the last 20 years have witnessed dramatic changes in most curricula of US accredited programs due to the rise of information technology in library process and systems that poses a range of challenges as well as opportunities for LIS education, from the integration of technical skills with theoretical concepts to the development of new courses and specializations and new forms of online or hybrid course delivery. In addition, the explosion of information and ease of information access do not parallel students’ skills in evaluating information resources, thus creating an increased need for teaching information literacy skills. Thus, the expertise expected from the new generation of LIS professionals is highly specialized and requires an advanced professional degree, but the areas of specialization shift from providing information services to teaching information literacy skills. LIS programs today need to constantly adjust the curriculum to teach the necessary concepts and digital library skills to prepare new professionals for the emerging areas of librarianship.
However, most LIS schools worldwide especially in Developing countries teach these ICT courses theoretically because they have inadequate funding, appropriate equipment, expertise and management. They also lack national level unifying accrediting agency to ensure standards and quality. The idea for the development an ICT Competency Framework is one of the significant national initiatives related to developing and supporting effective ICT use in LIS schools and managing library and information resources and services. The framework is equally important for developing a curriculum structure for LIS education and planning for the professional development of faculty and practitioners.
MLIS, PhD Independent strategic planning consultant in Information managements for Gulf Region.
Dean of libraries affairs
Al-Jouf University, Saudi Arabia
- 2007 - Phd in the area of Copyright and libraries: Factors that influence the attitude of acadmic librarians towards copyright laws Graduate School of Information Studies McGill University, Montréal, Canada
- 2002 - MLIS in Library & Information Sciences (LIS) North Carolina Center University (NCCU), USA
- 1996 - BA in Library & Information Sciences Al-Imam University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Areas of Expertise
- Area of Specialty: Information polciy
- Scientific Interests
- Intellectual Property – Copyright Laws application in libraries and Research
- Information Ethics
- Attitude Measurements and Research Methods
- Information eithics
- Integrated information systems
- Information marketing
- Content analysis
Dr. Mohammed Saleh Altayar
Chair of Department of Information Management,
Faculty Member Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University,
Rashed S Alzahrani
VP for IT and Support Services
General Authority for Statistics,
Dar Almandumah Inc.