We need to do a better job of looking at media studies in LIS Education
This is a very timely conversation being the same month as the insurrection at the Capitol, but this is something I’ve been thinking about since I was an undergraduate journalism student a few decades ago. In my own experience, the biggest shortcoming of both my Journalism education and MLS education was that neither spent much time looking at the socio-economic aspects of information. While we covered small presses for a week in collection management, and a bit about intellectual freedom, we need to go deeper at looking at information from a critical lens. I think schools do this now in literacy instruction, but I believe it should extend also to reference (what are authoritative sources?), databases and collection management (who runs journals and bundles?) and even foundations (what types of information needs to we prioritize and who gets ignored?). We have already broached the discussion beyond the idea of librarian as neutral, and now need to continue the discussion throughout the curriculum. I think this really imperative now as we will need more reflective librarians who can create libraries that can address social issues and information needs, and also who may have to fight more censorship cases in local courts if the Supreme Court reverses precedent such as the “Miller test” that moved grounds for censorship from community to national standards. We should also take a critical lens when examining issues like intellectual property and embrace new ones like study of propaganda and disinformation.
On a more personal note closer to the stated question, I think librarians and LIS educators alike need to continue to read widely as both information professionals and citizens. We should strive to challenge our bubbles by reading in different disciplines, different politics, different nations. We also should help our users to see that reality is complex and avoid simplified discussions that posit that there are only two “opposing sides” of an argument. Politics should not be a horse race where no compromise is possible even though our media often treats it that way. Academic librarians have adopted the Learning Commons, but all libraries need to strive to do a better job of being an information commons, where civic engagement can take place.