Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rutgers's School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, now with less "library"

Yup, Rutgers University’s School of Communication, Information and Library Studies (SCILS) is dropping the word "library" from its name, following many others (including U of T's iSchool, UWashington, Syracuse and Carnegie-Mellon).

I agree that our profession requires much more than library expertise, but I am somewhat incredulous that we are, at times, so full of self-loathing that we must scratch out the "library." I often wonder if we're doing it because we want to divorce ourselves from the librarian stereotype. Are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Don't give me that whole, "we're in the information business, like doctors are in the business of medicine" argument, because that's crap. Many of us are still in the library business, with much more than information being sold: what about a sense of community? Literacy? Lifelong learning? Do you want to cram that in, too? Didn't think so.

OK. Deep breath. Calm now. I'm sorry - I may be the last person standing who wants that word in there, but I think it's a part of our profession and it belongs there, even if not everyone works in a library. The library is not a physical place but an idea, a concept.

The best part of the above article is the fact that, after changing names (note the inclusion of the word "communication"), there was a big snafu about the dean circulating a letter that claimed, incorrectly, that he had the support of the New Jersey Library Association (he didn't). He's calling it a typo; the president of NJLA gets the last word: "For a communication school, there was very poor communication."


  1. If you are the last person standing who wants that word in there, I am standing right behind you.

  2. Me, too. (And sorry for the late response.) I completely agree with you that 1)libraries are about much more than either communication or information and 2)the issue is as much about the process as the end result.