What are we doing and why in British and Irish library and information departments?

In recent years, the library and information professions have undergone a series of changes. Some libraries have been through name changes and rebrands (to become known as things like Learning Resource Centres or Information Centres), some have closed, and almost all have changed their support in some way. More information is available online now, so we’ve seen demand for access to computing facilities and wireless internet access increase. Many libraries supplement traditional print resources with electronic resources, including e-books, e-journals, and online databases.

The way we receive, manage and share information is constantly changing
The way we receive, manage and share information is constantly changing

Information and digital literacy skills are becoming essential for society; for both work and life in general. A number of reports talk about ‘information overload’ and people are developing techniques to deal with this. Organisations produce an increasingly large amount of information, and information professionals are involved in managing this information and helping others develop skills to manage it.

New areas within the information professions are emerging – including knowledge management, managing intranets, and managing online information to ensure it is findable by users (such as those who specialise in user experience design and those who work with metadata).

In response to the changes, member institutions of BAILER have been adapting their courses to ensure their content is current and their graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge to enter today’s workplace.

At the University of West of England for example, they have updated their Information Management course:

We have updated our MSc offering, taking account of trends in the profession and the recent review of the Professional Skills and Knowledge Base by CILIP, which consulted widely with employers and professionals. While much of our previous content remains, we have reorganised the modules to make space for enhanced treatment of information/digital literacy and knowledge organisation, both foundational aspects of modern information work. We have also created a new set of options where students can specialise in user experience design, data management, knowledge management and web design.

We continue to cater to librarians working in public and academic settings, but recognise that today there are many other information-related roles outside of these spaces. Indeed, part of the philosophy is to expose students to a range of workplaces and skillsets in order to expand their career horizons.

In response to student demand, Glyndŵr University have extended their course offering to include a BSc(Hons) Library and Information Management top up degree:

From FDSc Library and Information Practice student demand we have developed a BSc (Hons) Library and Information Management, which is a one year top for those having completed the foundation degree or for those who qualified a while ago and wish to update their CPD profile. The first cohort of 11 BSc (Hons) students graduate in October 2013. The course uses the same model of delivery as the FDSc with the addition of a dissertation.

In addition to course level changes, many BAILER institutions have developed new modules or are in the process of doing so – some within their departments such as research data management, and some in collaboration with other departments such as social media (in collaboration with journalism) and database management (in collaboration with computing).

The courses and modules in British and Irish library and information departments are regularly reviewed in response to changes in society and in the needs of students and employers. Visit the member directory to get further information on BAILER member institutions and visit their websites to take a look at the courses currently on offer.