Educating Librarians in the Contemporary University

An Essay on iSchools and Emancipatory Resilience in Library and Information Science

Author: Joacim Hansson

Price: $30

Published: July 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63400-058-1

218 pages


Library education is changing. At a time when librarianship is increasingly seen as part of the information industry, Library and Information Science is also searching for its place in a new and rapidly developing university landscape.

This book analyzes the development of the contemporary university in light of present critical social theory, focusing on such aspects as academic acceleration, organizational accretion and the rise of an ”entrepreneurial spirit,” all of which have both epistemological and organizational consequences. Library and Information Science has proven well-suited to meet this development. One way has been through the rapid international growth of the iSchool movement, now counting close to a hundred member schools all across the world. iSchools not only meet the requirements of contemporary university development, but also contribute to a recontextualization of librarianship and library education. As the iSchool movement relates to a view of information as a commodity and the ”iField” to increased economic growth, it recontextualizes the library sector, traditionally connected to democratic development based on the ideas of the Enlightenment.

Educating librarians in the Contemporary University is written from a European perspective, and examples such as the EU research platform, Horizon 2020, Government Research Proposals, and policy documents from European iSchools are used in an attempt to understand the current development in Library and Information Science and its relevance for librarianship. As the European Research and Development Sector increasingly connects universities to the solution of various ”social challenges” with emphasis on commercial collaborations, the view on knowledge and use of university resources are affected in a way which seemingly make critical analyses difficult.

Questions are asked about the relation between iSchools, late capitalism and the development of Critical Librarianship. Is there a way of fulfilling the ambitions of the critical theory classics and achieve research and an education environment which encourage emancipatory goals within the iSchool movement?

Joacim Hansson is professor of Library and Information Science at Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden. He has done research in several subfields of LIS. His prime research interests have been on critical classification and studies on the institutional identity development of libraries. He has also done several studies on the epistemology and development of Library and Information Science as a scientific discipline.

We interviewed Dr. Hansson about this book. You can read the interview here.