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Re-conceptualising and re-positioning Australian library and information science education for the 21st century [Final Report 2011]

Partridge, Helen L., Hanisch, Jo, Hughes, Hilary E., Henninger, Maureen, Carroll, Mary, Combes, Barbara, Genoni, Paul, Reynolds, Sue, Tanner, Kerry, Burford, Sally, Ellis, Leonie, Hider, Philip, & Yates, Christine (2011) Re-conceptualising and re-positioning Australian library and information science education for the 21st century [Final Report 2011]. Australian Learning and Teaching Council, Sydney, NSW.

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Abstract

How can Australian library and information science (LIS) education produce, in a sustainable manner, the diverse supply of graduates with the appropriate attributes to develop and maintain high quality professional practice in the rapidly changing 21st century? This report presents the key findings of a project that has examined this question through research into future directions for LIS education in Australia. Titled Re-conceptualising and re-positioning Australian library and information science education for the twenty-first century, the purpose of the project was to establish a consolidated and holistic picture of the Australian LIS profession, and identify how its future education and training can be mediated in a cohesive and sustainable manner.

The project was undertaken with a team of 12 university and vocational LIS educators from 11 institutions around Australia between November 2009 and December 2010. Collectively, these eleven institutions represented the broad spectrum and diversity of LIS education in Australia, and enabled the project to examine education for the information profession in a holistic and synergistic manner. Participating institutions in the project included Queensland University of Technology (Project Leader), Charles Sturt University, Curtin University of Technology, Edith Cowan University, Monash University, RMIT University, University of Canberra, University of South Australia, University of Tasmania, University of Technology Sydney and Victoria University.

The inception and need for the project was motivated by a range of factors. From a broad perspective several of these factors relate to concerns raised at national and international levels regarding problems with education for LIS. In addition, the motivation and need for the project also related to some unique challenges that LIS education faces in the Australian tertiary education landscape. Over recent years a range of responses to explore the various issues confronting LIS education in Australia have emerged at local and national levels however this project represented the first significant investment of funding for national research in this area. In this way, the inception of the project offered a unique opportunity and powerful mechanism through which to bring together key stakeholders and inspire discourse concerning future education for the profession. Therefore as the first national project of its kind, its intent has been to provide foundation research that will inform and guide future directions for LIS education and training in Australia.

The primary objective of the project was to develop a Framework for the Education of the Information Professions in Australia. The purpose of this framework was to provide evidence based strategic recommendations that would guide Australia’s future education for the information professions. Recognising the three major and equal players in the education process the project was framed around three areas of consideration: LIS students, the LIS workforce and LIS educators. Each area of consideration aligned to a research substudy in the project. The three research substudies were titled Student Considerations, Workforce Planning Considerations and Tertiary Education Considerations.

The Students substudy provided a profile of LIS students and an analysis of their choices, experiences and expectations in regard to LIS education and their graduate destinations. The Workforce substudy provided an overview and analysis of the nature of the current LIS workforce, including a focus on employer expectations and employment opportunities and comment on the core and elective skill, knowledge and attitudes of current and future LIS professionals. Finally the Tertiary Education substudy provided a profile of LIS educators and an analysis of their characteristics and experiences including the key issues and challenges. In addition it also explored current national and international trends and priorities impacting on LIS education.

The project utilised a Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach. This approach involves all members of the community in all aspects of the project. It recognised the unique strengths and perspectives that community members bring to the process. For this project ‘community’ comprised of all individuals who have a role in, or a vested interest in, LIS education and included LIS educators, professionals, employers, students and professional associations. Individuals from these sub-groups were invited to participate in a range of aspects of the project from design through to implementation and evaluation.

A range of research methodologies were used to consider the many different perspectives of LIS education, including employers and recruiters, professional associations, students, graduates and LIS teaching staff. Data collection involved a mixed method approach of questionnaires, focus groups, semi-structured interviews and environmental scans. An array of approaches was selected to ensure that broadest possible access to different facets of the information profession would be achieved.

The main findings and observations from each substudy have highlighted a range of challenges for LIS education that need to be addressed. These findings and observations have grounded the development of the Framework for the Education of the Information Professions in Australia. The framework presents eleven recommendations to progress the national approach to LIS education and guide Australia’s future education for the information professions. The framework will be used by the LIS profession, most notably its educators, as strategic directions for the future of LIS education in Australia.

Framework for the Education of the Information Professions in Australia:

Recommendation 1: It is recommended that a broader and more inclusive vocabulary be adopted that both recognises and celebrates the expanding landscape of the field, for example ‘information profession’, ‘information sector’, ‘information discipline’ and ‘information education’.

Recommendation 2: It is recommended that a self-directed body composed of information educators be established to promote, support and lead excellence in teaching and research within the information discipline.

Recommendation 3: It is recommended that Australia’s information discipline continue to develop excellence in information research that will raise the discipline’s profile and contribute to its prominence within the national and international arena.

Recommendation 4: It is recommended that further research examining the nature and context of Australia’s information education programs be undertaken to ensure a sustainable and relevant future for the discipline.

Recommendation 5: It is recommended that further research examining the pathways and qualifications available for entry into the Australian information sector be undertaken to ensure relevance, attractiveness, accessibility and transparency.

Recommendation 6: It is recommended that strategies are developed and implemented to ensure the sustainability of the workforce of information educators.

Recommendation 7: It is recommended that a national approach to promoting and marketing the information profession and thereby attracting more students to the field is developed.

Recommendation 8: It is recommended that Australia’s information discipline continues to support a culture of quality teaching and learning, especially given the need to accommodate a focus on the broader information landscape and more flexible delivery options.

Recommendation 9: It is recommended that strategies are developed that will support and encourage collaboration between information education within the higher education and VET sectors.

Recommendation 10: It is recommended that strategies and forums are developed that will support the information sector working together to conceptualise and articulate their professional identity and educational needs.

Recommendation 11: It is recommended that a research agenda be established that will identify and prioritise areas in which further development or work is needed to continue advancing information education in Australia.

The key findings from this project confirm that a number of pressing issues are confronting LIS education in Australia. Left unaddressed these issues will have significant implications for the future of LIS education as well as the broader LIS profession. Consequently creating a sustainable and cohesive future can only be realised through cooperation and collaboration among all stakeholders including those with the capacity to enact radical change in university and vocational institutions. Indeed the impending adoption and implementation of the project’s recommendations will fundamentally determine whether Australian LIS education is assured both for the present day and into the future.

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ID Code: 46915
Item Type: Report
Additional Information: ALTC project web site: http://www.altc.edu.au/project-reconceptualising-repositioning-library-education-qut-2009
Additional URLs:
Keywords: library and information science, education, information profession
ISBN: 9780987198365
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > LIBRARY AND INFORMATION STUDIES (080700)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Australian Learning and Teaching Council
Deposited On: 09 Nov 2011 07:46
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2011 07:46

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