Launched! Re-Envisioning the MLS

On Monday, October 20, the iSchool hosted its first discussion event as part of our three-year Re-Envisioning the MLS initiative. Led by iSchool faculty members Paul Jaeger and John Bertot (co-directors of iPAC), the Defining the MLS: History, Origins, and Foundations focused on the history, professionalization, and values of the librarianship as defined through the formalization of Library and Information Science education with the Master of Library Science (or variants) degree.

The session particularly sought to engage the iSchool community in a discussion regarding the historical, current, and future roles of information professionals and cultural institutions (libraries, archives, museums, others) in a changing and dynamic economic, social, community, information, technology, and policy context. Online and in-person participants offered a range of insights, including the need for:

  • Community engagement;
  • Partnerships to meet increasingly complex community needs;
  • More policy-savvy information professionals;
  • More cross-field learning in areas such as marketing, public policy, education/learning technologies, social work, information technology/systems; and
  • More of an international perspective on information, policy, and best practices.

The archive of the session is available at: We welcome your comments as we continue to Re-Envision the MLS.

Next up (November 6, 2014): Burn the Libraries Free the Librarians

Co-sponsored by iPAC and the iSchool, Dr. R. David (Dave) Lankes discusses: The days when there was a single model for a library, if they ever existed, are gone. The idea that the library is a storehouse of books and materials is gone. The notion that a library can serve off to the side of the mission of a community is gone. What’s left: the centrality of librarians in meeting the needs and aspirations of the community. This presentation presents a librarianship unencumbered by buildings or a fealty to traditions. It talks about librarians as facilitators of knowledge creation in libraries, and offices, and schools, and classrooms, and the wide reaches of the Internet.

When: Thursday, November 6, 4:30-5:30pm (EST; reception to follow)
Where: McKeldin Special Events Room, 6137 or online via Adobe Connect at
RSVP: Please RSVP at

R. David Lankes is a professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and director of the Information Institute of Syracuse. Lankes is a passionate advocate for libraries and their essential role in today’s society. He also seeks to understand how information approaches and technologies can be used to transform industries. In this capacity he has served on advisory boards and study teams in the fields of libraries, telecommunications, education, and transportation including at the National Academies. He has been a visiting fellow at the National Library of Canada, the Harvard School of Education, and the first fellow of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy. His book, The Atlas of New Librarianship won the 2012 ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature. More information on Lankes is available at

6 thoughts on “Launched! Re-Envisioning the MLS

  1. Pingback: Re-Envisioning Initiative Video Archive | Re-Envisioning the MLS

  2. Pingback: Re-Envisioning the MLS: What We've Learned So Far | iSchool MLS

  3. What are the communication paths people are able to share comments and ideas through? The blog posting about this MLS revisioning states that during the three year process input will be gathered, are there more robust plans for gathering input than this comment box, for example? I am a 2012 MLS, creating a new nontraditional role strongly leveraging “Library Science” skills. The biggest challenge I see is communicating the skill set and value of that skill set in ways corporate audiences will understand. We need to market ourselves in the language of business. This means being specific, using metrics, relating actions to dollars. I love the excited idealism of library and information science, but to find a paying job and build a career, isn’t that the end goal of graduate school? We need to use that idealism that drives us, but channel it into tangible, easily digested benefits for a business audience, so that when someone says something like: we need an electronic records manager, years ago there used to be these little old ladies with file carts who would handle all the paper files… the business knows what skill set to look for, and more importantly how to write and market the job description. There is both internal and external change, particularly around perception, needed. Thank you.

    • Dear Ann:

      First, thanks very much for your participation in this — we appreciate it greatly! Our initial process, which we are rethinking now that interest in this has spread beyond what we envisioned, involved the following:

      – A range of engagement and speaker events to seed the conversation, gather input, and promote participation. At all the events, we gather comments and feedback, and then also post the archives and create a blog entry to further the conversation. You can find all these to date if you search on #HackMLS.
      – We monitor and gather comments via social media, particularly twitter. Follow the conversation: @I_umd; @ipac_umd; #HackMLS.
      – We are conducting regional meetings (Western Maryland, Eastern Shore, Southern Maryland, and Central Maryland) with a wide range of information professionals and leaders.
      – We are working with our Advisory Board ( on a range of activities and soliciting their feedback.

      Having said all this, however, we’re looking into additional ways to gather input. One idea that we have is conducting listening/feedback sessions using Adobe Connect which would be open to all. We’re also considering blog entries that post various questions based on what we’ve learned along the way for feedback and discussion.

      What are your thoughts? How can we best engage you (and others) in this process? We’re open to all ideas.

      Best, John

  4. Great discussion event. Especially in the scope of my interest is: “More cross-field learning in areas such as marketing, public policy, education/learning technologies, social work, information technology/systems”

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