Hi, Janet, and all --

At SJSU we've struggled with the role of research in professional work and 
professional education too.  I'm not positive we've found the right 
answer, but it may be *a* right answer.  Our research methods class had 
always been a standard overview of academic (mostly social science) 
research methods class -- not dissimilar to a Phd research methods class. 
And most of our students saw it as irrelevant.  It was required for those 
who chose to do a thesis and ignored by almost all the others.

Recently we decided to require it (our director feels strongly that it 
should be a required class), and what we did was open it up and offer many 
sections with different foci of interest.  We still have the classic 
academic/social science overview class.  We also have many others -- one 
on evaluation programs and services (basically an "action research" class) 
which the students *do* see as directly relevant to their future jobs, one 
on historical research (which a lot of people are interested in), one on 
ethnography with a focus on technology, one on youth programs evaluation 
(also "action research" approach), one on reference evaluation and 
research, and on that calls it self just "action research."  Pretty much 
any reasonable focus could be chosen, as long as there's a qualified 
instructor and enough students sign up for it.

We could certainly have one on cataloging/metadata/classifiction research 
too, if any of us felt competent to teach it.  (We do hire a lot of 
parttime faculty, by the way, and you don't have to live in California or 
even come to California to teach for us...)

I think this is our second year of doing this, so we'll see how it goes 
over time.  But I thought it was an interesting approach (not my idea, so 
I can say that!).

I'd be interested to know how that sounds to the rest of you.


On Thu, 28 May 2009, Janet Hill wrote:

> This may be somewhat off topic for a group devoted to cataloging education
> .... but not TOTALLY off topic.
> I gave a paper last week, at a conference on The Ethics of Information
> Organization.  As best I could tell, registrants included lots of students,
> lots of LIS educators, and not-quite-so-many practitioners, although it was
> a pretty good mix. At the reception on the first evening, I fell into
> conversation with one of the LIS educators, and we drew a number of threads
> from the day together, as he said something to this effect:
> <<I suddenly realized that in LIS schools, we lavish a lot of time
> individually mentoring our PhD students in research (how to frame a
> question, how to choose a method, how to follow up, how to target a
> publishing venue, reviewing drafts, etc.) but our MLS students get maybe a
> research methods class and a few projects to complete.  And all the while,
> it is the practitioners who make up most of the profession, and who will
> conduct most of the research, and publish most of the papers, and if they
> are in academic libraries, they'll HAVE to do research and publication.  And
> the same thing is true of preparing for or planning a career -- we mentor
> the PhD students intensively, but the masters students not nearly so much.>>
> And reflecting on that conversation, it brought to mind many previous
> conversations and thoughts from over the years.  That although ALA accredits
> the masters programs, the schools that offer PhDs may define themselves or
> assess their worth based on the PhDs, or the faculty may have greater
> affinity for the PhD students, since overwhelmingly that is their
> background.
> Well ..... practicing catalogers and technical services managers (and all)
> have to do research and investigation and inquiry in real life, and many are
> required to publish.  And the profession and discipline grow through
> contributions of those in the profession -- most of whom have the terminal
> professional degree.
> What's the balance?  Do you prepare catalogers (and their ilk) for the
> possibility and necessity of research and publication, and for conducting
> it?  Do schools that have both masters and PhD programs define themselves
> too much in terms of their successes in PhD "production" and overlook the
> real needs of practitioners for knowing how to do research, for
> understanding an obligation to contribute to the knowledge of the field
> through inquiry and publication?
> I'd be interested in your reactions, contradictions, information,
> verification, whatever.
> Janet Swan Hill, Professor
> Associate Director for Technical Services
> University of Colorado Libraries, CB184
> Boulder, CO 80309
> [log in to unmask]
>      *****
> "For we are catalogers, and therefore the elect of God.  To read is human;
> to catalog, divine."  Charity Blackstock.  Dewey Death.