Libraries are for Use

Demonstrating the value of librarianship

Essay on state of communications scholarship | Inside Higher Ed


Essay on state of communications scholarship | Inside Higher Ed.

While reading this article, I realized how similar the issues that are brought forth about the state of communications are to concerns about the state of librarianship.  Consider these (emphasis added by me):

Observers of the field regularly point to several stubborn failures:

  • Comparing scholarly citations across fields, communication is a net importer of new, generative ideas; it rarely exports them to other fields.
  • The absence of a commonly accepted core of methods and theories undercuts its rigor and intellectual utility.
  • Practitioners in government, the private sector and nonprofits rarely draw on communication scholars for advice, nor their scholarship to inform their work.
  • It is derivative — of psychology, political science, sociology and other fields; it doesn’t stand on its own. (Karen’s note: LIS is derivative of psychology, education, and even communciation.)
  • In the hard-to-measure hierarchy of university status, communication is not in the big leagues of economics, psychology or other disciplines. (Karen’s note: um, is economics really “big league”?  Certainly, LIS is not considered “big league”.)

Now, here is the Mr. Wilson’s proposed solutions for his own field:

Therefore:

  • To become more intellectually rigorous, the field must respond to the growing practical pressures to become more relevant to society.
  • To become more relevant and helpful to those beyond the academy, the field must become more coherent and rigorous.
  • To meet its vaunted commitment to interdisciplinarity, communication must carefully define and effectively articulate a distinctive disciplinary core.
  • The field whose domain is communication has not effectively communicated its own uniqueness and value to others.

Mr. Wilson later went on to describe examples of how pressure was exerted from outside his field to provide greater rigor improved the message and its reception.

He also mentions how little contact members of his field have with the general public.  Now, I think librarians, particularly public librarians, do make erstwhile efforts to establish contacts in their community, but I think that effort is limited to issues associated with the library, and possibly education, itself.  But I read of few librarians who are involved in other aspects of the community, areas where they could provide some insight (such as information resources) or influence.  I highlighted “read of” because it may be a fault of the media or it may be my fault in not paying enough attention.

But, I did want to point out that librarians are not the only members of a profession or discipline with feelings of disappointment with their chosen field.

Inside Higher Ed

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This entry was posted on July 30, 2013 by in LIS Education, LIS Profession.
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