Checking out job openings and technology

Tzoc_Miller

 

I had a slight mini-rant about just this topic in a discussion for my practicum.  Maybe I am a bit  luckier than most since I have a undergrad degree in Management Information System (MIS) that fits in nicely with LIS, but even so, one look at the jobs out there and I knew I was going to have to work on some technical skills on my own.

Here is an excerpt from my discussion post for 620.  I have omitted the journal name/author since this is a live blog and not in a cozy, free-from-recrimination Learn@UW discussion board.

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Where X’s article has the most weight is his criticism of LIS schools changing over to information science/studies.  It is here that I happen to agree with his/her assessment.  True, future librarians need to know how to work with new technology, but I think what is happening is that we are being set up for a hard fall.  There are information science/studies out there, and what they are teaching us in SLIS is not it.  Unless you go to the maximum effort to learn on your own (or in a computer science class) about programming languages, web design beyond the basics, and full database design, what we learn for technology in SLIS is not enough to call it an IS degree.  If you don’t agree with me, read a few Information Science/Studies job openings on LinkedIn.com.  Chances are, we don’t have the qualifications for them.

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Which leads me to Tzoc and Miller’s article.

The image above is exactly the information I was visualizing in my head in my 620 posting and I felt a bit of satisfaction to see that it wasn’t all in my head.  What SLIS is teaching us is not what future employers are looking for (and I don’t buy the “…it is possible that LIS curricula look further ahead to anticipate future developments…” argument Tzoc and Miller offer on page 14) .  In the graph, Database Design/Management is being taught twice as much (14%) what employers actually advertise for.  I believe the reason for this is so many employers (private and public) have IT folks who do this.  Unless you are starting with a brand new institution (rare) or one who is just now using technology for their institution (even rare), they are going to already have this covered.  What they want to know is can you work with their system.  And given the plethora of database systems out there (off the shelf or homegrown), I think it is more important to show not that you have the ability to design or manage a database but that you can get up to speed on their system as rapidly as possible.  How can you teach that in a class?

Since there are so many unique types of institutions out there, I am not surprised that many of them are requesting (13%) experience in programming-scripting languages like Ruby, PHP, Perl and JavaScript.  I think computing is in transition and moving away from desktops and laptops and more toward mobile applications for tablets and smartphones.  If you don’t know the languages to create apps, you are going to be behind the curve.  Evidence that we are moving away from desktops and laptops can be found here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/25/tablet-pc-market-analysis .  I don’t think we will completely ditch them, but more and more people are using tablets and smartphones for their computing and libraries, digital or otherwise will have to be a part of that.   And that means we better learn how to develop and work with them now.

Anecdotal Evidence:  I have a couple of old netbooks that I keep for when my grandchildren come down to visit.  The oldest – my granddaughter knows what to do since we have been teaching her about computers and computing since she was tiny.  However, my younger grandson has really only used a smartphone or tablet.  He tried poking the screen to get Chrome to come up.  When it didn’t happen, he very seriously said “Nana, you need to reboot.  This isn’t working.”

We had mouse instruction immediately after that.

 

Please accept my sincere apologies for posting late.

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7 responses to “Checking out job openings and technology

  1. I believe there must be differences between information study and information system though there could be overlapping to certain extent. Information system basically deals with computer systems that store and disseminate data or information. Information study focuses more on how information is transformed into service and then is consumed.

  2. The question for me is what is the intent of a digital librarian: is it someone who does what I consider IT work (programming, development) or is it someone who applies what we’ve learned about this semester in a library setting? What I find more problematic about Tzoc and Miller is the high percentage of training on programming (tied with database management for the most courses) and application development. I’m not saying librarians can’t do that, but that strikes me as moving into IT, not IS. If I wanted to do IT work, I’d go get a degree in computer science.

    IS to me is taking information and figuring out how to best express it on the front end for the best possible user experience. I’m far more troubled that Information Architecture, Usability, and Content Management together account for only 11 percent of technical courses, as that strikes me more as the kind of work that is expected of a digital librarian.

  3. To add into the discussion, I am at the unique position tammygoss mentions of being present when a new digital information management system is being installed. I work for a group of relatively new foundations (less than 20yrs old), that gradually progressed from unstaffed, to understaffed, to feeling comfortable with the basics and now have the desire to capture and manage learnings both from their grantees, researchers, institutions, etc. We have been working with a consultant, the company’s IT department, and our own tech-guru to evaluate, choose and integrate the systems. While I am not instrumental with the actual implementation of the new system, my experiences from the courses Information Architecture, Database Design, and other more IT heavy courses mean that I can contribute suggestions about how decisions will affect the front end user. However, at the beginning we were allowing the IT department/tech-guru to completely lead the charge. It became quite apparent that there was little to no thought given to the needs of the end-user: searches were not intuitive, the interface was cluttered and difficult to navigate, there was no taxonomy/cataloging system implemented to take into consideration that the knowledge within the system would grow. Similar to Stevie, this is where I feel my role is applicable: I have enough to act more as a bridge (or sometimes voice of reason) between the IT side and the user.

  4. I agree with mmmeyer3 in gaining enough knowledge to “act more as a bride between the IT side and the user” rather than knowing how to create the entire new system. To become this “bridge” you need to gain a basic technological understanding of what is really going on and this is where taking technology based courses at SLIS can really help. In my opinion, SLIS does a pretty good job of offering these courses but the program does not require you to take any of them. With many of the new job postings requiring some level of technological skills, it seems important that SLIS students should gain at least some basic technological experience and requiring students to take a few of those courses would make them more marketable. One of my reasons for suggesting this is that while working on a team project for one of my courses, a member of my team seemed to lack some basic technological skills and was unable to make a basic PowerPoint presentation. Although this person will graduate it may be difficult for them to find a position because they lack the technological skills that many employers are looking for. We do not need to learn how to become expert programmers but taking those tech courses during our studies will ensure we become that “bridge” between IT and our patrons, which ensures our patrons will receive the best possible services.

  5. On the topic of “IT heavy” courses available through SLIS, the SLIS website suggests a number of electives outside the official SLIS offerings that would contribute to a “Digital Libraries and Resources” specialization. I am only 4 classes into my degree here but have any of you taken and

      • I took a lot of these courses as an undergrad Brian, but to be honest, since my degree is mostly archives, I found myself struggling to fulfill the requirements for that emphasis along with my work and outside commitments. However, I have tried every semester to take advantage of the lynda.com lessons before I graduate. I went through the available training on lynda and made a list of what I wanted to learn (fun stuff) and things I should learn (not so fun but important) and kept it as a long term list. I just finished SharePoint and will be revisiting Drupal next. I love being able to check mark these as DONE and add them to my CV. 🙂

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