When Do We Need a Translator?

When evaluating which courses to take, students often start with the list of undeniably library-specific courses: reference, cataloging, archives, etc. But as the profession continues to evolve it has become more and more interdisciplinary. Library students today take end up taking everything from web programming to marketing, from database design to educational/instructional theory. 

The question I’ve been trying to tease out lately is: is it more effective to take library-ified versions of these courses within our library schools or to take them in their true departments? For instance: will you learn more from a marketing class that is taught by a library school faculty member and focuses specifically on library issues? Or would it be more broadening and beneficial to take a marketing class in the business college?

When is the original appropriate and when do we need a translation? (CC licensed image from Flickr user gcbb)

When is the original appropriate and when do we need a translation? (CC licensed image from Flickr user gcbb)

So far I’ve mostly stuck to courses within my library school. While I’m sure there is a lovely introductory web design course over in the computer science department of the College of Engineering, I’m very happy with my decision to take the one offered by a library faculty member. She was very encouraging, took new concepts slow, and did not assume a huge amount of initial html literacy. Also, the course featured cool librarian guest speakers who talked about the web things they do as part of their job! Thus, for me, the translation of web design was definitely necessary and helpful.

However, now that I’m delving into a specialization (marketing), I find myself wanting to branch out beyond the library school. While I did take the half-semester library marketing class, and it was very informative, I’ve recently been considering additional, non-library options. Traditional and non-profit marketing courses in the Business College? I’m intrigued! A Persuasion Theory class in the College of Communications? Sounds beneficial! Courses in the Human & Community Development department? They sound like the perfect complement to the Community Informatics course I’m currently taking in the library school!

Luckily my advisor is wonderful and agrees that courses from other department will complement my library courses. But it’s definitely going to be an interesting journey in terms of figuring out which skills and topics are covered in the library school, which ones aren’t, and where it will be most beneficial for me to learn them…

One related note on courses, curricula, and planning your degree: sometimes, the option you need isn’t in your library school or outside it. In that case, check out these awesome posts on doing an independent study and changing your curriculum – both great options!

What about you all? Have you taken any courses outside your library schools? Is it especially encouraged or discouraged? Which courses do you think we need translations for and which ones do you think are best taken in their “original language”?

2 replies

  1. It’s always beneficial to branch out and explore other disciplines. My undergraduate degree is in Classical Archaeology and I took upper level courses in Classics, Art History, Geology, GIS, Anthropology, Religion, Philosophy, and other departments. There are so many opportunities available in LIS and the interdisciplinary nature of the field is what attracted me to it! I don’t have the option of taking other courses from other departments in my program, simply because it’s distance, but I’m trying to get a varied education through independent study.


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