Re: media librarianship

Jim Scholtz (
Mon, 21 Feb 2000 14:19:49 -0800 (PST)

Hi Lori, Since I'm going to be contributing to Gary's book also, I hope
that I'm not exempt from giving replies to your questions. I've also been
in the business for 19 years, making my library school experience a little
dated, possibly more traditional so it will be interesting to get feedback
on the more recent graduate experience in the "Information and computer
science depts."

1) I graduated from Northern Illinois University (Dekalb) in 1982 but had a
B.A. in Library Science from Illinois State Univer. before going on for an
M.A.L.S. Actually, I felt that my education at ISU better prepared me for
library science work than my Master's classes at NIU. Neither ISU nor NIU
offered any real media classes - only film projector, making
transparencies, etc type classes and one Media in the Classroom, class -
where I did learn to write a good review (honestly, it did help me in later
life)! Computers weren't part of the curriculum in that time period. We
did do projects on Collection development, writing selection policies,
selecting collections, etc. and my personal feeling is that "as long as you
know the basic theory and philosophy of selection/CD and the basic
principles of selecting for that specific media" - you can select anything
- it's just a matter of transfering/interpreting knowledge and practices
from one area to another. I'm currently the library director of a public

2) I think that these basic skills of selection, etc. are getting
slightly over-looked, preferring to go into the "techie" side of the field
- dealing with computers, software, etc. and web mania! With the emergence
of simultaneous formats of CD-ROM, on-line databases, streaming video/audio
and regular video/audio formats, the art of selection - when do you buy
what, and how much coupled with what you buy, how long do you keep them,
and how do you archive what you keep and how you develop an eclectic
collection from all of those sources - becomes of paramount importance.
Indexing, cataloging, and the art of retrieving information relevant to the
user's needs are the important aspects of librarianship today. Media
utiliazation is also a basic skill. Communication/listening - customer
relations skills are highly valuable as is critical - analytical thinking.
The willingness and "passion" for learning more about your job is very
important (more of a characteristic than a skill). Also the ability to
envelop (not just to accept) constant change. I think that media classes
like the one Kris Brancolini is teaching at IU are on the right track -
traditional skills melded with new formats, new technologies.

3) I already see the traditional A/V media collections being enveloped
into the nontraditional library - just like the old-time reference library
collection - are you an on-line database searcher or a reference librarian?
I don't think that there will be many specialists any more; all librarians
have to deal with media in some form or another today and video is no
longer a step child. I really see all librarians as having to be skilled
within the media environment at this time and in the future. New
technologies and new formats will always come up - they're just coming
faster now and co-existing (pretty soon the format may no longer matter
because we may not be dealing with hard formats any longer! The emphasis
has got to be on utilization; - basically teaching customers how to
'filter' what they actually want from the virtually deludge of information
they're going to get in answer to a specific query.

Hope this information starts some great conversation on the listserv.
Sincerely, Jim Scholtz.

At 11:58 AM 2/21/00 -0800, you wrote:
>In preparation for my chapter in the new edition of Gary's book, I would
>like to ask the media librarians out there to take a few minutes and send me
>a reply to the questions below. Responses sent directly to me will be kept
>confidential. If you want to share your thoughts with the list that's fine
>too. I'm trying to get an idea about how you feel about library education
>for media librarians and where you see our specialty heading in the future.
>I guess I'm defining "media" as traditional a/v type formats as well as
>newer ones, but with a slant towards video.
>1. Do you think "library school" (MLS program) prepared you for your career
>as a media librarian? Why? Please indicate in which type of library you are
>currently working.
>2. What skills or qualities do you think will be most important for media
>librarians in the future?
>3. Will media librarians as a specialty field continue well into the future
>or do you see our role changing as new technologies and formats emerge?
>Thanks in advance for your time and energy.
>Lori Widzinski
>Head, Computing and Multimedia Services
>Health Sciences Library
>University at Buffalo