I have an MLS, do you? Do you need it?

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I have sat back and read the various posts in many places about the “need” for the new executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) to have an “ALA-accredited Master’s Degree or a CAEP-accredited Master’s Degree with a specialty in school library media.” I have remained largely silent in those discussions. I’ve remained silent because I have already cast my vote in favor of making the degree a PREFERRED qualification, and didn’t think there was a need to state or reiterate my position publicly. I’ve also stayed silent because I am currently a member of the ALA Executive Board and I did not – do not – want what I say to appear to be a reflection of the views of the Board as a whole. I am speaking here as a member – as a LIFE MEMBER – of the American Library Association, and not as a Board member.

I earned my Master of Library Science Service (MLS) from the then School of Communication, Information, and Library Science Studies at Rutgers University. The year after I completed the degree, the School added an “I” and began to offer the degree of Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS). They subsequently changed the name of the school to be the School of Communication and Information and more recently dropped the “L” from the degree and they now offer a Master of Information degree. I have to admit it sounds rather cool to be a “Master of Information” but I don’t know if they were really going for the “cool points” when that decision was made.

We are now at the tail end of the trend towards dropping the “L” from the names of schools that either once offered, or still offer, a “library degree”. Most have become schools of information science or information studies or some other combination of words that include “information” and not “library”. I’m not going to draw any conclusions from this fact, but will ask that you think about what it says about those who have made a commitment – arguably – to educating the next generation of librarians, or should I say information professionals?

But the discussion of the schools may only be tangential to the ALA Executive Director degree requirement. Although the changes at the schools are possibly a reflection of what is happening in libraries – certainly what I see happening in academic and research libraries, with which I am most familiar. The work that we are doing continues to evolve and often requires skill sets and educational backgrounds different from those typically conveyed in a “library” school. In some sense, I applaud the schools for realizing the need to change. We certainly recognize that shift in some libraries and have begun to hire staff that have the appropriate mix of experience and education that is likely to lead to success in the positions – even if that education does not include an MLIS. And hiring these people does not devalue the MLIS as we will continue to hire MLS-holders where it is appropriate; it is merely a recognition that for some positions, we need something other than the MLIS. If someone with an MLIS ALSO has the other skills and education, then great for them, as they become (potentially) even more marketable (i.e. qualified).

The question I will address here, however, is does the ALA Executive Director need to hold an MLS? I don’t think so. I do believe that the executive director needs to have a grounding in the issues that libraries face and those for which we advocate on behalf of our users and our communities. And they need to be a strong leader. I might even say they need to be a strong association leader. That’s it. period (well, there are all the qualities that come with being a leader, etc.).

The position is one of leadership. Some have argued that we need to have MLIS-holders running our libraries and therefore need to have an MLIS-holder running our association. They have drawn comparisons to the fact that the Library of Congress now has (finally) an MLIS-holder as its Librarian. To them, I say YES. I could argue (even if I don’t completely agree) that the LIBRARY director (of whatever library) should have the library degree. The ALA Executive Director, however, will not be leading a LIBRARY; he or she will be leading an ASSOCIATION. And, by the way, the association has a library that is managed by a librarian. Association Executives come from many fields of study. The person could have an MBA, a JD, a BA, or any other academic credential. We do want someone who understands and has led membership organizations, who understands and can speak about library issues, and who can advocate for libraries and library workers. There are people who do just that who do not have an MLIS.

Yet others argue that the American Medical Association or the American Bar Association are headed, respectively, by a doctor and a lawyer. Furthermore, as the body that accredits the degree in that profession, it would be an anathema to have the accrediting agency (in this case, ALA – as the appointing body of the Committee on Accreditation) be headed by someone who doesn’t hold the very degree that we accredit. It is certainly true that the directors of these two associations (and probably others) hold the degree that the body accredits.

I thought it worth examining the accreditation standards for those organizations, as well as those of the American Library Association’s Committee on Accreditation. Again, I believe it necessary to remind readers that I am not writing this as a member of the ALA Executive Board, but rather as a member of the Association.

The standards for accreditation set by the American Medical Association’s Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the Curriculum Standards [PDF] (Standard 303) of the American Bar Association describe a core set of prescribed educational outcomes that are required for one to earn the respective degrees in these fields. And one also has to continue their education and professional growth to remain certified in these professions. Not so in our profession!

The standards for the American Library Association [PDF] seem not to have a similar core set of educational outcomes. I question, therefore, what makes a librarian a librarian if the body that accredits the members of this profession does not define a core set of knowledge that is required to be considered a member of the profession? In examining the requirements for the degree at several schools there isn’t even a standard for the number of credit hours required for the degree. For example (and I admittedly only looked at five six of the nationally ranked programs):

I’ve provided links for anyone interested in examining the curricular requirements (such as they are) at these schools. With this seeming disparity, I now ask, what makes a librarian a librarian if there is no common set of required knowledge? And without a response to that question, why should we have someone with an ALA-accredited degree (which can vary in scope and content) to lead the Association?

Orchid Labs is Developing a Blockchain-Based Internet Protocol to Defeat Censorship and Surveillance

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From Axios:

Orchid Labs says that it has developed blockchain-based protocol that lets users access the internet free of censorship, restrictions, and surveillance.

[Clip]

The main idea is to incentivize people with unused internet bandwidth to share it with other users (presumably in places with restrictions), in exchange for payment via Orchid’s Ethereum-based tokens. The company also says it’s a more viable option than Tor and virtual private networks (VPNs), which are increasingly difficult to access in places like China.

Read the Complete Article

Direct to Orchid Protocol Web Site and FAQ

In Their Own Words (via FAQ):

2017-10-29_09-50-18Orchid is an open-source project committed to ending surveillance and censorship on the Internet. The Orchid protocol uses an overlay network built upon the existing Internet, which is driven by a peer-to-peer tokenized bandwidth exchange, creating a more inclusive, liberated Internet. Orchid Labs Inc. is a Delaware company with the mission of promoting and supporting the research and development of the Orchid Protocol. Orchid Labs Inc. was founded in 2017 by leading technologists and is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Orchid protocols are available in private alpha to select recipients today. Later this year, all Orchid software will be published to the open source community. Early in 2018 we plan to offer a public beta of the Orchid Protocol to help billions of users on all corners of the globe make Internet Freedom a reality.

See Also: Orchid White Paper About Protocol: “Orchid: A Fully Distributed, Anonymous Proxy Network Incentivized Through Bandwidth Mining”
47 pages; PDF.

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Massachusetts: Amazon Will Stop Supplying Textbooks to UMass at End of 2018

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From MassLive.com:

Amazon will stop providing the University of Massachusetts campus with textbooks at the end of December 2018, exercising an opt-out clause in its contract with the university.

In 2015, Amazon and UMass signed a five-year contract that replaced the Follett Corp. textbook operation, although that company continued to run the store in the Campus Center. The arrangement was expected to save students about 30 percent. Amazon was one of six companies that bid to provide the service.

Amazon decided to end the arrangement, said UMass spokesman Daniel J. Fitzgibbons in an email. He did not know why. No one could be reached at Amazon.

UMass will release an RFP for a new supplier and the school hopes to have a new contract in place by the Summer of 2018.

Read the Complete Article

See Also:  Amazon Textbook Contract Ending in December 2018 (via The Massachusetts Daily Collegian)
October 19, 2017.

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Cal Poly Launches Digital Transformation Hub for Innovation

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Cloud Technologies

Cal Poly Launches Digital Transformation Hub for Innovation

A new project at California Polytechnic State University will focus on problem-solving and innovation around public sector technology challenges. Created to “accelerate digital transformation in the government, education and nonprofit sectors through the application of cloud technologies,” the Cal Poly Digital Transformation Hub (DT-Hub) is a joint effort between the university and Amazon Web Services.

“Cal Poly is proud to be a part of the world’s first cloud innovation center developed as a collaboration between AWS and an educational institution,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong, in a statement. “We have the unique opportunity to use our ‘Learn by Doing’ philosophy to work with the worldwide leader in innovation to define the standard for digital transformation in government, education and nonprofits.”

The DT-Hub will convene “innovation communities” made up of experts from the California State University System, California state and local government, and commercial enterprises, to share ideas on addressing a variety of digital challenges. Possible topics include creating more efficient methods for storing and using police body camera data, reducing the cost for agricultural research, and using technology to fight human trafficking.

The problem-solving efforts will adapt the “AWS innovation process” to “engage communities of stakeholders, AWS resources and Cal Poly/CSU subject-matter experts to quickly understand problems from the viewpoint of the customer and then formulate solutions that address those needs,” according to a news announcement. The resulting solutions and ideas will be made publicly available.

For more information, visit the DT-Hub website.

About the Author


About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

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The Job Outlook: In 2030, Librarians Will Be in Demand | Editorial

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A fascinating new report takes a fresh look at what the workforce is going to look like in the future and which skills will be highly sought after. According to “The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030”, there will be an increased call for librarians, curators, and archivists, among other occupations.

That’s just the start of the finds in this exploration of where humans will fit in the future, complementing rather than being completely supplanted by automation. The report—released on September 28 by Pearson, Nesta, and Oxford University—asks how work will be impacted by the intersection of seven “megatrends.” Change driven by new technology, including the rise of automation, is right up top. The others are globalization, demographic change, environmental sustainability, urbanization, rising inequality, and political uncertainty.

The report considers globalization but focuses solely on the impact on the UK and the United States. “In the U.S., there is particularly strong emphasis on interpersonal skills. These skills include teaching, social perceptiveness, service orientation, and persuasion,” it notes. The “findings also confirm the importance of higher-order cognitive skills such as complex problem solving, originality, fluency of ideas, and active learning.”

“The Future of Skills” is something to read when thinking about the evolution of our work in libraries [as is our annual report on placements and salaries “Librarians Everywhere” (p. 28–34), which provides a look at what’s happening today]. Perhaps more important, it can help inform library leaders’ strategic direction as they consider how to shape services to support people of all ages through a time of rapid evolution. How will the people libraries serve be impacted by these megatrends, how will they need to learn, and what skills will they need to develop in order to thrive?

“Although the advance of automation and artificial intelligence may feel like a losing battle to some, individuals will need to focus on developing the uniquely human skills identified in this research,” the report states in a section on the implications for individual people.

According to the report, we will all also need to learn new things and develop new skills throughout our lifetimes. To help, the authors include an extensive “Glossary of Skills” mentioned in the document and offer recommendations for educators and employers.

There’s no doubt in my mind that libraries and those who work in them are here for the long haul. This report can and should stimulate conversation about how to make the long run ahead as relevant as possible for the many people who depend on libraries for the tools they need.

THE TOP 10 OCCUPATIONS

Below are the occupations classifications most likely to experience increased demand in 2030 out of the 772 tracked by the U.S. government.

  1. Preschool, Primary, Secondary, and Special Education School Teachers
  2. Animal Care and Service Workers
  3. Lawyers, Judges, and Related Workers
  4. Postsecondary Teachers
  5. Engineers
  6. Personal Appearance Workers
  7. Social Scientists and Related Workers
  8. Counselors, Social Workers, and Other Community and Social Service Specialists
  9. Librarians, Curators, and Archivists
  10. Entertainers and Performers, Sports and Related Workers

SOURCE: THE FUTURE OF SKILLS: EMPLOYMENT IN 2030

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