David Midyette is Reference and Instruction Librarian at the Roseman University of Health Sciences in Henderson, Nevada. David has been an ACRL member since 2009 and is your ACRL member of the week for September 15, 2014.
1. Describe yourself in three words: Eclectic, Curious, Loyal.
2. What are you currently reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? At the moment, I’m in book one of Game of Thrones on Audible. Despite being a librarian, I’m not an avid reader as I have quite specific tastes in books.
3. Describe ACRL in three words: Respected, Resourceful, Rewarding.
4. What do you value about ACRL? Quite honestly, I value the opportunity to connect with colleagues who share both a specific interest in the health sciences as well as those with a broader range of interests. ACRL has long provided me with a connection to a comprehensive view of academic librarianship, and I have truly enjoyed reading both C&RL and C&RL News for many years. I have always found the topics and news to be both timely and on point. Librarianship for me is all about the flow of information, and ACRL has been a reliable conduit for that flow. While I haven’t been the most involved member due to my unique career path, I have always felt connected to the academic world through multiple academic degrees, and ACRL has been instrumental in allowing me to stay abreast of topics of interest to librarians in both direct and peripheral academic settings.
5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? Given the unique nature of my current institution, I take more of a support role. Our students have a compressed timeline for completing their degrees, and this limits or prohibits my time with them in the classroom. As a result, I have become far more interested in passive reference and instruction, and have begun talking to faculty about generating subject focused assignments that contain strong searching skills components. More specifically, I want to help develop information literacy exercises where students do not necessarily realize that they are learning “library” skills. In my instruction and orientation sessions, I focus on connecting students to specific guides to meet their information needs, and I am currently working on developing targeted, and very short, tutorials on finding information.
6. In your own words: As a librarian and instructor, I feel that we need to take a very long and hard look at library education. I believe that entry level library positions are more suited to a bachelor level degree in library science, and that we should adjust our educational programs accordingly. I know that there is a movement by a few to study the issue and I look forward to working toward that end. I still think that there is a place for graduate library science degrees, but that an undergraduate level degree is a far better starting place for future new librarians.
As someone who has taught MLIS classes, I do not see the value in the content as being at that level, and it is certainly nowhere near as complex or challenging as that of my subject area master’s degree. I would much prefer hiring someone with a BS in library science and then supporting them in the pursuit of a subject area masters or doctoral degree. With the advanced degree, they would be far better suited to act as liaisons to specific departments or disciplinary groups, and hopefully by that point they would have published in the subject area, which would make their liaison connections far more collegial in nature. I see the librarians of the future as true information specialists who know the discipline(s) they support because they have had coursework, research, and publications in the subject(s).
I feel that these changes in our approach to professional education would go a long way towards improving both the profession and the image of the profession. Of course, there would still be the option of the MLIS for those interested in a fuller understanding of the profession, or for those who had no need of a subject specialty. There will always be a need for professionals to do what we do, but we can be a great deal smarter about the approach to educating our future colleagues.
Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.