University of Ottawa School of Information Studies / Ecole des sciences de l'information

Thanks to Alexandra Yarrow of the Ottawa Public Library's Rideau Branch for volunteering to write a summary of the LANCR presentation about the University of Ottawa's plan for a School of Information Studies.


Leslie Weir, University Librarian and Kenneth-Roy Bonin, Director of School of Information Studies spoke about the creation of the country's 8th library school on February 27, 2007.

Leslie Weir spoke first about the history of library schools in Ottawa: the University of Ottawa had an MLIS program until it was suspended in 1972 and ended completely in 1976. During the 1970s and 1980s there was a distance learning MLIS program at the University of Ottawa offered through the University of Western Ontario. A few years ago, representatives of a variety of local libraries, including St Paul's University, Ottawa Public Library, Bibliothèque municipale de Gatineau, and the University of Ottawa, discussed the possibility of starting a new MLIS program in Ottawa. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The massive shortages in the information professions expected to occur over the next decade in the U.S. will not affect Canadian libraries as much; however, older professionals will be retiring, and the U.S. may be looking to fill shortages in their libraries by actively recruiting from Canadian library schools. As a result, there will definitely be room for increasing numbers of new professionals in the field, especially bilingual information professionals. Ms. Weir pointed out that another factor will be the double cohort: many will be entering graduate programs soon, and many universities are consequently looking to expand their graduate-level offerings.

Ms. Weir then introduced the new director of the School of Information Studies, Kenneth-Roy Bonin. Bonin spoke briefly about his credentials and experience (MS (Library Science), MA in History, PhD in Education, former president of the University of Sudbury and consultant for KPMG). He then outlined the program's structure and its dreams for the future.

Dr. Bonin described the school using the framework of 3-2-1. The School of Information Studies expects to teach those who want to work in one of three fields: archives, librarianship and information centres. The School will have two specialties: information policies and information management. Finally, the school will have one focus: new and emerging technologies. The School hopes to graduate "leaders in the making", future managers in the information professions.

Getting down to technicalities of the School itself, Dr. Bonin explained that a cohort will consist of 50 students, although they will expect approximately 30 in the first cohort. Students will be speaking both languages, and some courses will be offered in French only. Dr. Bonin referred to the practise already in place at the University of Ottawa whereby students enrolled in a French course in psychology (for example) would be taking a French language course (for credit) with a focus on the vocabulary of the psychology disciplines concurrently. He would like to see something like this in the School of Information Studies. Eventually, the program would include course-based Masters students, co-op students, thesis students, and some part-time students.

The course offerings will include on-site and web-based courses in French or English, and would be comprised of core courses, specialty courses and elective courses. Incoming students will be expected to be computer-literate and have some knowledge of French or the willingness to learn. Dr Bonin also stressed that the School will be a "management-style" school; he stated that if applicants want courses in children's literature or school librarianship, they should look at other library schools (e.g. UBC or McGill).

With respect to faculty, Dr. Bonin underlined that he would be looking for four full-time faculty members very soon, and that they would all be bilingual, have PhDs and be practitioners in the field. He expects that the faculty will eventually comprise between 4 and 8 full-time members and a number of part-time members and sessional lecturers.

Finally, Dr. Bonin spoke briefly about his "dreams in Technicolor" for the School: further ideas he has that will not come to fruition in the near future. He spoke about having a joint master's program, possibly in collaboration with the law, engineering, or business faculties and schools. Eventually, the School of Information Studies would also like to offer a Ph D program, develop distance-learning courses, and perhaps even offer continuing education programs.


Anonymous said...

The presentation was going along so nicely until they talked about the people they consulted about the new school. Ian Wilson? The heads of CISTI and Library of Parliament? Sheeesh, couldn't they have talked some real librarians? Thank God Barb Clubb was somewhere on that list of consulted people - an actual librarian! (Hopefully they meant Bernard Dumouchel when talking about CISTI.)

Anonymous said...

indeed...... 3 cheers for "traditional" librarians... even if it sometimes seems like both traditonal and librarian are bad words.

Anonymous said...

It's even worse than we thought. The UofO press release points out the the guy they've hired as the director isn't even a real librarian. He's a teacher-librarian, i.e. those teachers who go to summer school or take a couple of courses and think they know how to run a library. Let's hope his other credentials make up for this weakness.