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Thanks to a recommendation from Ge Ge at Variegated Stacks, I recently checked out a really interesting blog called Hack Library School, an online resource “by, for and about library school students.” It’s the brainchild of Micah Vandegrift, a soon-to-graduate LIS student at Florida State University, and is based on the following ideas:

The Web is our Campus.

This is an invitation to participate in the redefinitions of library school using the web as a collaborative space outside of any specific university or organization. Imagine standards and foundations of the profession that we will create, decided upon by us, outside of the institutional framework. Ideas like the democratization of the semantic web, crowdsourcing, and folksonomies allow projects like this to exist and we should be taking advantage of it. What will the information professions be next year if we define it for ourselves today? If we had a voice in the development of curriculum, what would that degree entail? This is our challenge to you; participate or come up with a better idea. How would you hack library school?

I’ve found the blog posts to be thoughtful, smart, and on topics that should resonate with every LIS student trying to determine just how his or her coursework is going to translate into opportunity in an information landscape changing at warp speed.

A good introduction to and background on this important blog can be found in Micah’s guest post on In the Library with the Leadpipe, another great group blog. Micah further notes that “HackLibSchool can also be a conceptual way to approach the curriculum, to engage with it for the purpose of adapting it to the needs and desires of the students.”

Recently Micah responded to my request for more information about the blog as follows:

What inspired you to create HackLibSchool? I was inspired by the way that people were collaborating on the web, especially in the digital humanities community. After following Profhacker, Hacking the Academy and other similar projects, I realized that this could work to get students together talking about and discussing issues in LIS. Really it was a “do what you know” sort of thought process – I wanted to be involved and so I took it upon myself to create the space where involvement could exist.

Who’s involved in blogging? Right now we have 8 LIS students who serve as “Editors” and regular contributors to the blog. We represent 8 different schools from across the US, and all have different foci and interests in the field. You can read the bios of our Editors here.

What outcomes would you like HackLibSchool to drive? Primarily, I’d like to create a community of LIS students, allowing for discourse on a variety of topics that relate to us as we transition from the classroom to the field. Tangentially, I’d love to see HLS and its community develop to bring real change to the library, archive, museum world as we continue to talk, discuss and share new ideas for how our institutions will function and remain relevant in the information economy. I really believe that fostering a space for open communication and sharing, and learning those habits as students, has the potential to have profound effects on our profession as we move into positions of leadership in institutions and organizations.

What kind of feedback are you getting from 1) students, 2) faculty, and 3) school administrators (e.g., deans, directors, etc.)? That’s a question I actually hadn’t thought about yet. Thus far, feedback from students has been excitement and desire to participate. We have an ever growing list of students and recent graduates interested in writing guest posts. Interestingly, I am not sure we’ve had very much feedback at all from faculty or administrators. My professors are very encouraging, but outside of that, I haven’t heard from many others.

Are you looking for more bloggers? We are always looking for more bloggers! The more voices the better!

Looks like you’re about to graduate soon, will you continue your involvement with HLS? The way I’d imagined it, is that I would serve as the Editor in Chief at least for the first year, and then I am hoping to be able to pass it on to a current student who is invested in the ideals and goals of HackLibSchool. I am really enjoying leading this project, often to the detriment of my schoolwork (oops!), but I know at some point I’ll have to step out and let an idealistic upstart take it over.

Any advice you’d give students regarding important take-aways from grad school? Advice? Do it yourself. I think coursework and lectures will only get you so far, and if you have really specific interests, as I did, you have to create those opportunities for yourself, in your program or outside of it. That’s the reason I moved to New York and really worked hard to develop my online presence. The most valuable thing I’ve learned is that information and access to it is fundamental to a productive society. And I intend to pursue that as a goal in whatever capacity of work I end up in.

Kim comment: Although ALA’s Committee on Accreditation (COA) has a central role in determining what curriculum is taught in MLIS programs, it’s increasingly clear that our LIS schools must have the flexibility to become more opportunistic and responsive to a swiftly changing LIS profession. It would be great to see some deans and faculty members jumping in to contribute to the Hack Library School conversation, and partnering with students to create transformative change in the curriculum.