The prospect of transitioning from a traditional Library and Information Science department to an iSchool at Sweden’s Linnaeus University prompted a global examination of iSchools. The Linnaeus faculty have a somewhat radical approach, seeking to build a broad, cross-disciplinary foundation for the new iSchool, with researchers in diverse subject areas coming together based on their common perspectives toward data, information and technology. Interviews and articles in the Special Section represent perspectives on iSchools from contributors in the United States, Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe broadly and Croatia specifically.
information science education
colleges and universities
iSchools Around the World
by Koraljka Golub, Joacim Hansson and Lars Selden
It has been a tremendous honor to work with the authors of the contributions for this special section of the Bulletin of the Association of Information Science and Technology focusing on iSchools. We would like to express our deepest thanks to all the contributors for taking the time out of their busy schedules to help create the issue. We believe the global status of the iSchool movement will be of utmost interest to a large readership, ranging from staff at the current 65 iSchools (according to the directory of the iSchools organization [http://ischools.org/members/directory/]), those of prospective iSchools and general Bulletin readers.
Our own motivation for engaging in this exciting effort is to further explore the possibility of our own school, Linnaeus University, starting an iSchool. While the university has a Department of Library and Information Science, some of the criteria specified for an iSchool – like large research funding – are not easily met due to our small size of, effectively, not more than five researchers. Luckily, Linnaeus University is young and flexible in structure and actively encourages cross-discipline collaboration and establishment of new education and research programs and centers of excellence.
This opens up what we view a unique opportunity in the academic world to start an iSchool with a foundation of more equally represented disciplines, rather than a school dominated by one or two. Our idea is to bring together departments, research centers and professors who work with data, information, knowledge, technology and related subjects.
Along those lines, research is under way at Linnaeus University to establish similarities and differences between U.S. and Scandinavian iSchools. One question that arises in this study is how is it possible to proceed from a traditional library school concept of iSchools into a more radical perception, based on the cross-disciplinary ideals that are formulated within the iSchool movement itself.
One way of addressing this issue is to let voices from the international iSchool movement be heard. That is what we want to do in this issue.
There are five contributions in this special section, representing five continents: North America, where the idea of iSchools was born, followed by Africa, Asia with Australia, and Europe. The North American perspective is given through an interview with Ronald L. Larsen, dean, School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, who at the time of the interview was the iCaucus chair-elect (the iCaucus is the managing body of the iSchools organization). We have attempted to ask what we view as major questions anyone interested in joining the iSchool movement may have; therefore the interview serves as a good introduction.
While curricula throughout Africa are changing to address new information- and technology-related challenges, so far only one institution has joined the iSchool organization. The African perspective is discussed in an article by Dr. Ruth Nalumaga of Makerere University Library and the East African School of Library and Information Science.
The Asian and Australian perspectives are given by another iCaucus Board member, specifically, the chair-elect chosen in January of this year: Dr. Sam Oh of the Sungkyunkwan University iSchool in South Korea. He is also the chair of the Asia-Pacific iSchool regional chapter.
The past chair of the iCaucus, Dr. Michael Seadle, also dean of the Berlin School of Library and Information Science, describes the European iSchools.
Finally, Dr. Tatjana Aparac Jelušić of the University of Zadar, discusses the development of a fast-growing library and information science department in Croatia, from its relatively recent establishment to reaching the doorstep of the iSchools organization.
Koraljka Golub, Joacim Hansson and Lars Selden are in the Department of Library and Information Science, School of Cultural Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Linnaeus University, 351 95 Växjö, Sweden. Their email addresses are Name.Surname@lnu.se. Kora Golub can also be reached on Twitter: @koraljkagolub