October 17, 2021

New PIL Provocation Series Essay Published, “The iSchool Equation” by Dr. Kirsten Hostetler

A new Project Information Literacy (PIL) Provocation Series essay has been published: “The iSchool Equation.”

The essay was written by: Dr. Kirsten Hostetler
PIL Research Analyst
Assistant Professor at Central Oregon Community College
Note: Dr. Hostetler recently completed her Ph.D. in Instructional Design and Technology at Old Dominion University.

From the Essay:

Librarians are increasingly being looked to as one solution to the spread of misinformation, but are iSchools producing graduates who possess the teaching skills to tackle this growing problem?

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The narrative around academic librarians alternately portrays them as victims of the internet age or as society’s saviors from it. But the reality for many academic librarians is much murkier; the demands on librarians have grown even as budget cuts demand that they do more with less, leaving many in the workforce struggling with low morale and feelings of inadequacy.

For academic librarians in instructional roles, the stakes are even higher, especially as those outside the field have taken notice. Information disorder is like a virus spreading across platforms and, with each new campaign, becoming more adept at eluding mitigation efforts. Many teaching librarians find themselves at the center of a savior narrative, called upon to create media literate students as a means of resolving this seemingly intractable crisis. At this moment, when the threat of misinformation gains increased attention, there’s a new, more widespread audience for what librarians are teaching and how they teach it.

And yet, how librarians are trained to teach continues to get short shrift in graduate programs. While the graduate degree technically qualifies them for a position in an academic library, many new hires feel anything but qualified. Inconsistent introduction to important concepts have led librarians to develop and turn to the more extensive professional development that they wish they had been exposed to in iSchools. But this sink-or-swim introduction to teaching is inadequate when working with students whose critical thinking skills have been hijacked by a broken attention economy.

If iSchools aren’t graduating professionals who possess the teaching skills necessary for rising to the challenges of today’s information landscape, librarians are left to calculate the value of their degree and ask themselves: Am I actually prepared for my job?

Read the Complete Essay: “The iSchool Equation”

See Also: Read the author’s reflections on what inspired this essay

Previously Published Essay in the PIL Provocation Series

A New Essay in the Project Information Literacy Provocation Series: “Reading in the Age of Distrust” by Alison J. Head (April , 2021)

“Lizard People in the Library” by Barbara Fister, Premier Essay in Project Information Literacy’s (PIL) New “Provocation Series” (February 3, 2021)

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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