Vol. 12 No. 4, October 2007
Information education (in the library and information science tradition) in Australia is under threat and at risk of being seen as irrelevant, particularly at the undergraduate level, even at institutions with strong legacy library and information science programmes. To respond to this threat and harness the strategic advantage, the Information and Knowledge Management Program at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has sought strategic connections to research and education initiatives associated with digital industries, in particular the creative industries.
With the rapidity of change in digital environments, graduates are increasingly called upon to devise imaginative solutions to organisational and social challenges. Digital industries are not the sole domain of technical specialists. Social computing / Web2.0 develops are recent illustrations of the rapidity with which the landscape is changing. Working in these industries requires analytical techniques for identifying and evaluating social consequences of design and implementation. It requires imaginative problem-solving. The successful professional in these industries is one who is capable of adapting to change. The rate of change will quicken, not slow. Thus, it is highly unlikely that students could ever hope to receive all the technical ‘know-how’ that might be expected of them in these industries. While an awareness of technical elements is still important, other qualities characteristic of innovators must also be valued: creativity,imagination, curiosity, networking and communication skills. Those who will flourish in this environment are those who don’t necessarily have a mastery of particular tools or systems, but rather a capacity for lifelong learning. Is it the domain of the ‘generalist’ who possesses some adaptable ‘specialist’ skills (acquired while in a degree programme) – but who, more importantly, has developed the techniques that will enable her to learn ‘on the job’?
It is within this context that library and information science educators at UTS have begun to articulate their contribution to an inter-disciplinary approach that can prepare graduates for work in such dynamic environments. There is more opportunity for library and information science researchers and educators to become part of the ground-floor development of such programmes and to contribute the necessary appreciation of the complexity of human-machine relations and the blurring of the boundaries between technical/social; public/private; old/new in these contemporary information and communication environments. library and information science educators need to articulate more clearly to their university colleagues, potential industry employers and their potential students how they can contribute the skills needed to work in these environments. Our skills as information professionals must be used more proactively to create places for ourselves in these discussions. If we fail to do so -- in Austrlia at least -- we are in danger of being left out altogether.
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© the authors, 2007.
Last updated: 18 August, 2007