Gavia Libraria

Crowdsourcing a library-school syllabus

The Loon has tried to teach from someone else’s syllabus twice. Once, she discarded the other individual’s syllabus within five minutes of beginning to read it, slotting in her own on the same subject instead. The other time, she managed, but found the experience rather excruciatingly awkward and difficult. Syllabi and course materials are so maddeningly, wonderfully idiosyncratic.

Many library-school instructors share part or all of their syllabi online. Why not? Given the idiosyncrasy involved in constructing and teaching from a syllabus, it’s actually rather harder to teach out of someone else’s syllabus than to create one’s own in most situations, so there’s little reason to fear scooping. The Loon has shamelessly stolen so many good syllabus ideas from others (librarians and library-school instructors alike) that she’d feel downright odd about keeping her own syllabi secret, or playing dog-in-manger with readings or assignment ideas.

(But that just means no one will take the class! you may object. The Loon’s never had that problem. More often, she hears “I wish I could take that class!” from students and practitioners alike. A good syllabus appears to be good advertising, not seatcount cannibalization.)

This is all well and good; the Loon hopes it dispels at least a little of the poisonous miasma around library-school curricula. It’s not the same as actual dialogue with practitioners about the said curricula, however, and that’s why the Loon is intrigued by Jeffrey Pomerantz’s experiment with crowdsourcing a basic-reference syllabus. What a great idea!

It hasn’t picked up much commentary onblog (the Loon isn’t watching Twitter), so the Loon is amplifying the signal as best she can. Librarians, especially reference librarians: do please help out with this! Put some of that wish-I’d-learned-that-in-library-school energy to constructive use.

Library educators: go ye and do as Dr. Pomerantz has done. The Loon is pondering ways and means herself.

2 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing a library-school syllabus

    1. LibraryLoon Post author

      Please do. The Loon is disappointed in the response as well. She would prefer not to think that librarians are more interested in pointless abuse than constructive comment.