May 11, 2021

New Report From U. of Maryland: “Re-Envisioning the MLS: Findings, Issues, and Considerations”

From the University of Maryland:

In August 2014, the iSchool and the Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC) at the University of Maryland launched the Re-Envisioning the MLS initiative as part of a three-year process that explores what a future MLS degree should be. That is, as we think about the mix of changes in the information landscape, our communities, information organizations, technology, the economy, workforce needs and trends, and other factors, what does a future MLS degree look like?

To answer this (and other) question(s), we hosted a speaker’s series, held engagement events, conducted regional visits, spoke with a range of leaders in the information professions, worked with our inaugural MLS Advisory Board, conducted extensive analysis and scanning, published a white paper, and more. You can find summaries and archives of these events, and documents, by searching our blog using #HackMLS.

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The below summarizes selected key findings:

  • The Shift in Focus to People and Communities. A significant shift that has occurred in information organizations from collections to the individuals and the communities that they serve.
  • Core Values Remain Essential. The values of an MLS degree and information professionals remain essential, in particular ensuring access, equity, intellectual freedom, privacy, inclusion human rights, learning, social justice, preservation and heritage, open government, and civic engagement.
  • Competencies for Future Information Professionals. Information professionals need to have a set of core competencies that include (among others) the ability to lead and manage projects and people; to facilitate learning and education either through direct instruction or other interactions; to work with, and train others to use, a variety of technologies; a strong desire to work with the public; problem-solving and the ability to think and adapt instantaneously; policymaking; and relationship building.
  • Access for All. The tension between the growing societal gaps (income and other), a shrinking public sphere and social safety net, wanting to help those with acute needs, not having the resources or skills to, and questioning whether this is an appropriate role for information organizations and professionals was a recurring theme throughout the Re-Envisioning the MLS.
  • Social Innovation and Change. By forming partnerships, information organizations are essential catalysts for creative solutions to community challenges in a wide range of areas such as health, education and learning, economic development, poverty and hunger, civic engagement, preservation and cultural heritage, and research innovation.
  • Working with Data and Engaging in Assessment. The data role for information professionals is at least three-fold: 1) helping the communities that they serve engage in a range of data-based activities; 2) helping communities leverage data to better understand their communities, community needs, and develop solutions to community challenges; and 3) using data to demonstrate the contributions of their libraries, archives, etc., to the community(ies) that they serve.
  • Knowing and Leveraging the Community. There is a need for information professionals who can fully identify the different populations and needs of the communities that they serve, their challenges, and underlying opportunities.
  • Learning/Learning Sciences, Education, and Youth. Information organizations have a particular opportunity to foster learning by attending to an individual’s particular interests, needs, and educational goals. A particular opportunity exists in focusing on youth learning, particularly STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).

Read the Complete Summary Blog Post

Read the Complete Report (57 pages; PDF)

See Also: Comment About the Report From ALA

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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