The ILSS strikes again!

Have you ever wanted to ask a question to someone whose opinion you really respect but were afraid to ask for fear of making the person uncomfortable? John Dupuis made himself an easy target for this type of question by offering to publicly answer absolutely anything (within reason, of course). Apparently this idea has been going around, and I think it’s a fabulous way for bloggers to challenge themselves, and for readers to really get to know their favourite bloggers.

I took advantage of this opportunity and asked John the following:

What is your biggest criticism of MLIS programs in North America, and what do you think library schools should be doing to fix this?

(I know what you’re thinking: this sounds a little negative for the ILSS. But think about it: it wouldn’t be a very uncomfortable question if I asked him to praise library school!)

John left a thoughtful and detailed response, explaining exactly what he thinks a good library education should consist of – here’s a brief excerpt:

One interesting thing that always comes up is the technology course. How many courses should be part of the core and what should they cover. Well, I’m pretty minimalistic on this, surprisingly. You often see on blogs long laundry lists of stuff every librarian should know about technology, as if we’re not allowed to have colleagues whose talents and interests compliment our own. Everybody should take one (maybe two) courses that establishes a basic common vocabulary and knowledge base as well as some experience with a few key tools, like a basic web development tool, a CMS, blogs, wikis or databases.

So I’d like to thank John for taking the time to put some thought into this issue, and I encourage you all to ask him questions of your own.


I was inspired to start this blog by a workshop hosted by my library school on Friday. It was called Web A Workshop for Information Professionals, and, despite not yet being an information professional, I found all of the presentations both interesting and potentially applicable to my future career. Two of my classmates, Amy Buckland (of informing MUVEs) and Jan Dawson (of Jan Dawson’s part of the blogiverse), put a whole lot of work into organizing the event and also gave a tremendous presentation on librarianship in Second Life. I’d never really considered writing my own blog until I saw John Dupuis (of Confessions of a Science Librarian) present a talk called Blogging for Professional Development. He really sold me on the idea of blogging and made me want to share my ideas with the library community. My other major inspiration was Jessamyn West (of, among others), whose enthusiasm for the future of libraries through Web 2.0 gave me hope for my career.

So, what is the ILSS all about? First and foremost, it’s written by a library school student in the hopes of being read by other library school students, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be something for everyone. My message is that providing access to information is exciting, even if library school isn’t always. I don’t mean this as a criticism of library programs or educators – it’s not their fault that the cataloguing rules of the AACR2 don’t make students want to do their happy dance. I firmly believe in the importance of learning about advanced database search techniques and chi-square tests; however, I’ve learned firsthand that it’s easy to become disillusioned without spending a bit of time thinking about the innovative and fun work going on in the field. Some might see this as a distraction from flowcharts and Dialog searches, but I intend it to be a supplement – my hope is that through this blog, we’ll all learn the things not covered by our classes, the things that our classes are preparing us for.