Preparing Future Librarians and Current Information Professionals to Lead Libraries in Times of Crisis

TU-KEEFNER, Feili and LIU, Jingjing and LYONS, Denise and HOBBS, April and SMITH, J. Caroline (2019) Preparing Future Librarians and Current Information Professionals to Lead Libraries in Times of Crisis. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2019 - Athens, Greece - Libraries: dialogue for change in Session 234 - Education and Training.

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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Preparing Future Librarians and Current Information Professionals to Lead Libraries in Times of Crisis

Libraries today are expected to be a hub of information service providers and also serve as catalysts for community engagement. LIS education programs are responsible for producing proficient future librarians who will be strong advocates of innovative services to their communities and who can rise to the occasion in providing community-first disaster and health information services. However, one of the most difficult tasks is developing LIS pedagogy that can be delivered both in traditional classrooms and online. To that end, in October 2015, faculty members and graduate students from the School of Library and Information at the University of South Carolina began collaborating with professional librarians from local libraries and the South Carolina State Library to investigate public libraries’ value to their communities in providing critical information services, as well as the libraries’ legitimacy as partners of public health agencies at a time of catastrophic flooding. In 2017, a survey study examined how community members had accessed information during the 2015 flooding and during Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Situation-specific research conducted in the third study targeted the Houston Public Library system’s main library and its branches affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Librarians’ basic required competencies have been identified. The majority of these competencies and their skill sets have been integrated into the curriculum of the SLIS/USC. A new course, tentatively titled “Community Engagement and Empowerment through Information Environments,” is under development. Continuing education programs and professional development opportunities are also being developed to better prepare professional librarians to provide disaster and health information services.

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