One of the things you have to get used to in library school is group work. I received my B.A. and M.A. in Comparative Literature and studied toward my Ph.D. in English. In these disciplines, one is likely to spend most of one’s time in a library alone. In fact, spending so much time alone was one of the factors that led me to drop out of the Ph.D. program in favor of a more pre-professional program (the MLS). I like teaching, which is a social activity, but the solitude of research makes me feel a bit Poe-ish.
Library School keeps telling us that group work is job preparation and admonishes us that librarianship is a social activity– not a matter of a librarian alone in the stacks, left happily with his or her books. I am not sure what outdated data model this references. First of all, the group work one does in school is nothing like working with coworkers on a project on the job. Second, the percentage of people who think of librarianship as asocial is very limited. Most of the people in our school are fairly young, have work experience (often in libraries), and are SNS-savvy. That is, this generation of LIS students is quite different from the generation that the pedagogical model seems to address (a generation I’m not convinced ever existed in the first place), and the model very desperately needs to change. This is not to say that group work should be discontinued, only that its purpose should be reevaluated.
Happily, I have had many good group work partners so far in library school. The following document was prepared by Jaclyn McLaughlin and me for our Introduction to Library Science course. The assignment was to choose from a set of case studies and prepare a report advising the library how to respond to the situation. We received an A- on the project due to using the wrong subheadings for various parts of our document, but I still think that we did a more than adequate job on the assignment.