Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Library consultants and the implications for library education

In this post, I continue discussing the need for a changing library education paradigm that will not just prepare our graduates to work within libraries, but also prepare them to work as library consultants. I have duly noted a speech delivered by one of my former professors, Fay Durrant, at a meeting of the library association of Trinidad and Tobago. As I read it, I came across some words of interest, which I quote below:
"As most of you know, the Department of Library and Information Studies has a mission to educate librarians from the CARICOM region. We have always been interested in understanding the future of libraries in the Caribbean, as this is of necessity related to the dimensions and focus of our teaching and research. With faster change in the information sector there is even more interest in determining future directions in relation to the areas of focus for our programme. We therefore seek to identify, on an ongoing basis, the current and anticipated trends and future activities in the information sector.

Today I would therefore like to discuss with you some of the changes in our environment, and some of the responses which are being developed by libraries in the Caribbean and globally.

The Department offers education in library and information studies, and produces graduates who now work mainly in government and academic institutions in the region....I expect that more opportunities will arise for\ our graduates to work as consultants, and as information brokers for organizations in the public or private sector."

Durrant's (2006) words capture so well my views and what I want to say. Library schools have traditionally prepared students and graduates to work in libraries. However, LIS curricula, with the changes in society have evolved to address broader information environments in addition to library specific operations (Rubin, 2010). Despite this evolution in curricula to prepare graduates to work outside of traditional settings of academic, public and school libraries (and even special libraries), library curricula is yet to address the issue of preparing students to become entrepreneurs and to use their LIS related skills as independent knowledge workers or professionals not employed to a specific institution. LIS curricula in this regard is geared towards providing a workforce for institutional employers.

Yet, while librarians are employed in a variety of setting, there seems to be a growing number of qualified librarians who are self-employed. This seems to be evident in the ASCLA Library Consultants Interest Group's (LCIG) latest report where membership is reported as growing from 32 to 63 members within the space of a year (Smithee, 2013). Yet, it is perhaps necessary to scrutinize this phenomenon some more with the empiricism of scientific methods. If I could only get my thoughts together into a coherent and logical research proposal.


Durrant, F. (2006). The future of libraries and implications for the Caribbean. Address to the Library Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) Ordinary General Meeting. Held at National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS), November 1, 2006. Retrieved from

Rubin, R. (2010). Foundations of library and information science (3rd ed.). New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

Smithee, J. (2013). Report from the Library Consultants Interest Group. Interface (02706717), 35(3), 1. Retrieved from

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