Library and information science education 63
field experience makes a difference in how and what the student has learned and how
perspective employers view job candidates in attaining their first professional posi-
tions. But there is much more work to be done, in terms of strengthening the field
experience within the curriculum for maximum benefit.
Hoffmann and Berg (2014) also did a similar study in Canada to determine the
relationship between theory and practice in an LIS education. They included a social
component in their study that was important in determining how field experiences can
help shape the student’s professional identity as they move from student to profes-
sional. The four themes that emerged from this research included:
the relationship between theory and practice;
the need for field experience outside the classroom;
the authenticity of the experience makes a difference; and
working with librarians as equals is also significant.
These types of research projects help validate the understanding that this profession
must integrate into its education process the types of experiences that will become
strategic components to graduates of these programs in the future. The following ex-
ample of a project defines the learning opportunities for multiple facets of the profes-
sion by combining theory and practice within the learning environment.
6.3 Real Learning Connections
The Real Learning Connections Project is a joint initiative between the University
Libraries (UL) and the LIS Department at the UNCG. This is a new venture which has
triangulated the work of a faculty member, a practitioner, and an LIS graduate student,
with the goal being to harness the learning power that could be shared among these
three in a unique way. These are project-based assignments in which students are paid
a stipend but do not receive credit. They work in partnership with a librarian, while
sharing feedback with appropriate LIS faculty.
Experiential learning opportunities for students in the Department of Library and
Information Studies are work experiences that allow them to sample professional en-
vironments in which they might seek a career or which might give them experience
that will help prepare them for a career or enhance their current career. From the start,
Real Learning Connections projects are seen as a demonstration project that examines
a new model of internship based on prior research and focused on the learning objec-
tives of all parties in the relationship (see Figure 6.3).
Projects are chosen by the UL after consulting with LIS faculty members. The ex-
pectation is that learning objectives are established for all participants and a tangible
product outcome is expected to be produced by the end of the spring semester of the
academic year in which the program runs.
The components of the program are as follows:
A. Project definition:
a. Projects were identified based on the organizational needs of the UL and will be devel-
oped around these needs. Projects should be matched with appropriate courses offered
64 Strategic Human Resource Planning for Academic Libraries
by the LIS Department in both semesters of the next year. All parties are considered
equal learning partners. Locus of control and knowledge is shared. Each party has their
own goals and learning objectives as well as an understanding of the time commit-
ment involved for collaborative work and communication activities such as monthly
b. Interaction between all three parties is expected to produce a dialog of different perspec-
tives that will increase the base knowledge of participants. The projects should include
some research component that impacts the end product resulting in a variety of tangible
outcomes, for example; a coauthored publication/presentation, or an internal report of
learning outcomes and achievements.
B. Roles defined:
Faculty and librarians will be recruited by the administrators and provided expectations
of their responsibility to the learning process inherent in the project. Students will be
recruited and with the faculty and librarian counterparts a list of learning outcomes will
be developed. This group of administrators, faculty, librarians, and students will form the
C. Assessing initial training needs:
Relationship building is one key to the success. This should begin with an orientation to
the project environment and goals. Depending on the project, all parties may need baseline
training in the work of the department host.
D. Communication process:
The project should include a published schedule of monthly meetings devoted to review the
project as well as a review of the status of the learning outcomes. Communication tools will
Figure 6.3 Real Learning Connections.