Gettin’ Edumacated… A Digital Library Curriculum

This post on “Beyond the Job” calling for applications to a Digital librarian fellowships program at the University of Iowa SLIS came across my feedreader earlier in the month. I’m starting to see more of this which is pretty exciting from where I’m sitting. It means some schools are taking the step to train students for digital library work. (Most of the schools have used seed money from an IMLS grant for library education.) Here’s a sample curriculum from the IOWA SLIS website:

Students enrolled in this special Digital Libraries track will take the 9-semester-hour core specified for
the general MA in SLIS degree program.

021:120 Computing Foundations 3 s.h.
021:122 Conceptual Foundations 3 s.h.
021:101 Cultural Foundations 3 s.h.

Students in this track will also take the following 6 semester hours:

021:224 Electronic Publishing 3 s.h.
021:226 Digital Libraries 3 s.h.

Students will also enroll in the following course each semester.

021:239 Topics in Digital Libraries 1 s.h.

Additionally students will choose at least 6 semester hours from the following:

021:123 User Education: Multimedia 3 s.h.
021:242 Search and Discovery 3 s.h.
021:220 Programming for Text Manipulation 3 s.h.
021:124 Database Systems 3 s.h.
021:278 Information Policy 2 s.h.

22C:196 Human Computer Interaction 3 s.h.

The remaining 12 semester hours of course work may be taken from the other courses offered by the School as well as courses selected (with advisor approval) from other departments in the University.

Students are strongly encouraged to take a programming course such as Perl or Java.

I love the emphasis here on programming and relational databases. I use these skills daily in mapping out data structures and metadata crosswalks. It’s also nice to see “electronic publishing” get some face time. I’m seeing more of this “library as publisher” direction in my job and an epublishing course could really help out. The only piece I might add would be a digital library practical component – some internships in a local electronic publishing company, a semester practicum with the local digital content group. Give the students an opportunity to show their stuff in a real world setting. I’m sure this could be built into the course of study with those open 12 credits.

I’m also just a bit envious… I remember cobbling together bits and pieces of classes and work experiences that were going to help place me in a digital library shop after graduation. For the most part it worked… I worked for the UWDCC at the University of Wisconsin doing mostly grunt work – scanning, prepping for scanning, entering metadata, bit of interface design – and it was this experience that really gave me a fuller picture of digital library work. Perl and PHP programming was mostly learned on the job at my “fellowship” with the University of Wisconsin Division of Information Technology working in their corporate library and on the main web site for the communications team. Seems like this “cobbling” won’t be the reality anymore, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m liking the move to standardize a digital library curriculum. Here’s another program moving in the same direction and a recent article about a digital library curriculum from D-LIB Magazine:

University of North Carolina SILS –

The Core: Digital Library Education in Library and Information Science Programs
Jeffrey Pomerantz, Sanghee Oh, Seungwon Yang, Edward A. Fox and Barbara M. Wildemuth
D-Lib Magazine, November 2006 Volume 12,Number 11 ISSN 1082-9873

Just a little food for thought during the holiday season. Best wishes to all.