Monday, 5 August 2013

New Librarianship MOOC: Reflections

The course centred around the various parts making up the following mission statement:

The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.

Hmm. I'm not sure that librarians need a mission statement. If anything it should be the library that has the mission statement, then the mission belongs to all members of staff and is available to the community, rather than being a grandiose (maybe even slightly pretentious) statement forced onto the community by the librarian.

The mission statement is a little too buzzwordy for my liking; it took a 4 week MOOC to untangle and explain it all. I like most of what it is saying (although the 'improve society' bit makes me cringe) but not the way it is said.

My other issue with the mission statement is that it is so generic. It applies not only to librarians but also to teachers and parents. Maybe each individual librarian should be asked to design their own mission statement. Or maybe it doesn't need to be articulated at all but is implicit within all librarians who care about doing a good job.

I found the course hard-going at times; I need a better understanding of the philosophy and theories underlying the course (such as conversation theory) to be able to join all the discussion board chats as an equal. I did not make any ground-breaking contributions. I found it a struggle to fit in watching all of the video lectures - podcasts I could have listened to while out running (admittedly only if they were very short), or transcripts I could have read on a lunch break, or with my children constructing Lego armies in the background. I wanted to watch each video in its entirity to make sure I didn't miss anything but sometimes I got to the end with a feeling of frustration that the material could have been covered more concisely.

However, there were times in the videos when I was nodding in agreement, or frowning in thought, or being delighted at hearing the theory demonstrated in a real life example. The enthusiasm, knowledge, articulateness (how's that for an oxymoron?) and level of conversation on the discussion boards was inspiring and it is great that the course participants respect other views even if they do not agree with them. I did not expect such a high degree of contribution to the discussion board topics from Prof Lankes, not only asking questions to initiate threads but joining in debates and asking further questions.

As a library assistant I am disheartened to realise (from reading discussion board comments) how vast some people perceive the skills gap between qualified and non-qualified library staff to be. Maybe this is more the case in public than academic libraries? Or maybe I have ideas above my station.

Am I glad I took this MOOC? Yes, but I'm also glad it has finished which is not such a stunning endorsement. Do I believe in New Librarianship? Yes, in that we should constantly innovate and engage with our communities.

As a Quester (yep, definitely works!) I am continuing my MOOC journey. I have signed up for a course on metadata (Coursera) and one on dinosaur paleobiology (dinosaurs! How could you not?) (Coursera again) and an open science online course (P2PU). Bring it on!


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