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Education for Bibliographic Instruction: A Syllabi Project

Bibliographic Instruction

Lisa Howorth Refer ence-Bibliographer University of Mississippi

Donald Kenney Head, General Reference Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The primary goal of the Education for Bibliographic Instruction Committee is to promote the teaching of bibliographic instruction in the library schools throughout the country. Many library schools have recognized the value of teaching bibliographic instruction and therefore have incorporated, either through a separate course or integrated into other library science courses, the teaching of bibliographic instruction. The Committee embarked on a project to identify those library schools that did incorporate the teaching of bibliographic instruction in the library education curriculum.

A subcommittee was charged to: “gather syllabi, course outlines, etc., from instructors teaching BI in library schools, whether as separate courses or incorporated in other courses.” Syllabi were solicited nationwide and forty-one library schools responded to the inquiry. Thirty-three schools sent syllabi or information about courses.

In order to share ideas gathered from these syllabi, another subcommittee reviewed and attempted to interpret the elements incorporated in the various courses. A number of elements common to most of the syllabi were apparent, and several library schools included impressive and innovative elements.

Most of the syllabi included teaching the importance of curriculum design. For instance, writing objectives, preparing workbooks, and mastery of audio-visual teaching methods were some of the common components included in the syllabi. Attention was given to the various types of instruction (integrated, course related, “one-hour stand,” selfpaced, computer assisted, credit course, point-ofuse) in nearly all the syllabi and most incorporated outside readings, class projects, and examinations of different types of existing BI programs.

The innovative or unique elements of the syllabi ranged from the philosophical or theoretical aspects of BI to the technological considerations that are a result of library automation. Needs assessment methods and evaluation techniques for BI programs were outstanding features of some syllabi. Other curricula required students to design a public relations campaign for a BI program, to design tests for specialized user groups, and to create informational graphics and signage systems. At least one library school syllabus indicated that students were given a historical background of BI in the U.S., while another incorporated a class panel presentation by BI librarians in four distinct types of libraries. A few included the importance of teaching techniques and the organization of the teaching faculty of staff. Management and administration of programs were notable elements of some curricula, including the politics involved in introducing, maintaining, promoting, and budgeting a BI program. One curriculum exposed library school students to the impact that advanced technology will have on BI and the theoretical implications for the future, while others incorporated media techniques in their courses.

While the syllabi gathered had many common elements, at the same time there were many varied components. A subcommittee is now at work on a two-part analytical study of the syllabi collection: one will be an analysis of curricula representing separate library school courses in BI, and a second analysis of courses in which BI is a component. The committee is currently updating and verifying information in preparation for writing this analytical overview based on the results of the study.

In collecting these syllabi, the committee discerned that there is a great deal of interest in library school education for BI. These syllabi represent a growing support, not only among practicing librarians, but also among library educators of the importance of bibliographic instruction.

Copies of the syllabi are available at the LOEX Clearinghouse, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197. Additional information about this project may be requested from Betsy Baker, Committee Chair, Northwestern University Library, Evanston, Illinois 60201. ■■

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