First, thanks, Janet, for your contribution to the Ethics of Information Organization conference. When the podcast is available I'll send a message to eduCAT so everyone can hear it.

In regard to research, I think it's important to create a climate in our MLIS programs that encourages research. Our approach at UW-Milwaukee takes several different angles. First, our MLIS has a required research methods course. We also have three options for students to pursue research: an advanced research methods course at the MLIS level (separate from our doctoral courses), an independent research course, and the option to do a thesis. We have an annual student research day at which students report on their research and have recently established a student research poster day. In both cases we have a mix of undergrad, MLIS, and PhD students and fund distance education students whose presentations are accepted and rewarding publication. We have a small grant available for research expenses (such as incentives for people to answer surveys).

Specifically for cataloging and related areas we have recently established an Information Organization Research Group which includes faculty and students - practitioners are also welcome. Our first two meetings consisted primarily of faculty and students describing their current and contemplated projects, connecting with similar interests, and seeking input from the group on how to deal with problems they have encountered. Some MLIS students have been active in the group already. We even had one threesome of MLIS students do a research study that was not for a course or thesis - it was purely out of interest. That suggests to me that we are having some success in fostering an interest in research among our MLIS students, but it definitely requires work to create a positive research climate.

With ALCTS proclaiming 2010 as the year of cataloging research (although I didn't find it on their website) it's a good time to raise this issue. There are far more academic library catalogers than there are faculty who can contribute to our body of knowledge. The CCS research topics page is a good beginning. A research agenda listing topics that are crying out for research would be a productive addition. Also, some further research training for catalogers and related professionals would make a good preconference - especially if the cost were subsidized. It could focus on methods especially useful to us - like transaction log analysis as well as questionnaires. Finally, presenting more existing research to classes and at conferences might encourage others to do research. We don't have a really good conference for presenting cataloging research. ALA is more "how-to" (also important) and discussion of standards than research. ASIST doesn't have much library content, although the Classification Research SIG usually includes at least some. Fortunately, we have CCQ and LRTS which both publish research (our information organization and ethics conference proceedings will be in a special issue of CCQ). So perhaps another way to encourage research is to make sure that students become accustomed to reading the research pieces in these publications.

I'll be interested to hear what works at other schools and any ideas for promoting 2010 as the year of cataloging research.


Hope A. Olson, Professor and Associate Dean
School of Information Studies
510G Bolton Hall
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53201
email [log in to unmask]

----- "Janet Hill" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> From: "Janet Hill" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Thursday, May 28, 2009 5:09:59 PM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central
> Subject: [eduCAT] Who do you pay attention to?
> 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.