A comparative analysis of instructional course themes in LIS and museum studies programs in the USA

Pages426-450
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-03-2019-0016
Publication Date08 Jul 2019
AuthorBrady Lund,Ting Wang
SubjectLibrary & information science
A comparative analysis of
instructional course themes in LIS
and museum studies programs
in the USA
Brady Lund and Ting Wang
School of Library and Information Management, Emporia State University,
Emporia, Kansas, USA
Abstract
Purpose Considerable overlap exists between the disciplines of library and information science and
museum studies.Exploiting the overlap and examining those areaswere library/museum instruction courses
diverge may provide valuable insights for how to improve the quality of these courses and better prepare
studentsfor instructional roles in both disciplines.
Design/methodology/approach Word frequency and thematic analysis of the instructional course
descriptions for all 52 AmericanLibrary Association-accredited Master of Library and Information Science
programs in the USA and 49 museum studies and afliated (e.g. MA in anthropology with museum studies
concentration)programs is performed.
Findings Each disciplinehas some specic language to describe tasks specic to itself(e.g. museums), but
these comprisea small percentage of the total language usage. Among other terms and themes, overlapoccurs
at a rate of about 50%. Theremaining 35-45% of terms and themes reveal areas that areemphasized in only
one discipline,but could be benecial to incorporate in the curriculum/contentin both disciplines.
Research limitations/implications This researchbuilds on a growing corpus of work demonstrating
relations between museum studies and library and information science, and their status within a
metadiscipline of information;this research presents a comparison of course content that may informfuture
curriculum/contentdevelopment.
Originality/value To the best of the authorsknowledge,no study of this type has been performed with
museum studiescourses, nor has a comparison betweenthe two disciplines been investigated at thislevel.
Keywords Instruction,Information literacy,Information science, LIS education,Library instruction,
Course descriptions,Museum studies
Paper type Research paper
Information and learning sciences journal
Many similarities exist between the elds of Library and Information Science (LIS) and
Museum Studies (Museology/MS). Both are considered to be information professions
dealing with concepts (information) that transcend the foci of traditional disciplines (Bates,
2015;Latham, 2015). Both are heavily inuenced by interdisciplinary research and
especially the study of information behavior.Several museum studies programs are housed
within, or offer signicant curriculum overlap with, schools of library and information
science, such as Kent State, St. Johns and the University of Illinois.The level of similarities
in these two disciplines offers a unique opportunity to perform meaningful comparative
analyses of practice,theory and curriculum in the professional schools.
One area of research and professional interest in both LIS and museum studies is
instruction (used interchangeably with the terms educationandteaching). In the twenty-
ILS
120,7/8
426
Received11 March 2019
Revised28 June 2019
Accepted2 July 2019
Informationand Learning
Sciences
Vol.120 No. 7/8, 2019
pp. 426-450
© Emerald Publishing Limited
2398-5348
DOI 10.1108/ILS-03-2019-0016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/2398-5348.htm
rst century, information literacy instruction has emerged as one of the most important
roles of academic librarians, with librarians of every type generally having some sort of
teaching duties. In museums of allkinds, public education has become a crucial function to
attracting and informing visitors. With many Master of Library and Information Science
and Master of Museum Studies programs offering courses in library instruction,
information literacy instruction,”“museum education,”“teaching and interpretation,a
corpus of thought exists as to what are the mostimportant traits/competencies/subjects for
instruction in each eld. By analyzing information about these courses, revelations about
the connections between the elds and opportunities for expandingand improving library/
museum instructionmay emerge.
Research questions
There are two research questions for this study. According to the course descriptions
provided by graduate-level programs in the elds of Library and Information Science and
Museum Studies:
What overlap exists in the concepts and themes taught in instruction courses in
each eld?
What concepts and themes taught only in one eld and could be applied to the
courses in the other eld to potentially improve educational quality?
Denitions
For the purpose of this paper, a few terms are used interchangeably with the same intended
meaning. Field and Discipline are both used to referto an area of academic training and the
pursuit of knowledge/inquiry in this area of training. The denitions of eld and discipline
are often distinguished so that discipline refers to the broader academic category of study,
and eld to a specic area of study within the discipline. This is the denition Borko (1968)
uses in dening information science as a discipline, for instance. However, usage of these
terms in this way is not consistent in the literature so, to abate confusion, the preference in
this paper is to use the termsinterchangeably.
Due to the qualitative nature ofthis study, there is signicantuse of the terms term, word,
and theme.For the purposes of this paper, the terms termand word are used interchangeably.
Linguistically speaking, a term is a word that has meaning (Papandropoulous and Sinclair,
1974). In practice, these two wordsare frequently used interchangeably. The denitionof the
theme of a segment of text, as used in qualitative research, is consistent with the nding of
DeSantisand Ugarriza (2000):
A theme is an abstract entity that brings meaning and identity to a recurrent experience and its
variant manifestations. As such, a theme captures and unies the nature or basis of the
experience into a meaningful whole. (p. 362)
Literature review
Instruction is an important part of the modern librarians duties (Carr, 1988;Bundy, 1999;
Click and Walker, 2010). As early as the 1990s, academic librarians would spend over a
quarter of their time on instructional duties (Ceperley, 1991;Julien and Leckie, 1997).
Instructional duties have only expanded in the past two decades (Ashmore, 2002;Bliquez
and Deeken, 2016;Bryan, 2016). Library and Information Science (LIS) schools are aware of
the need to prepare librarians as educators, but have varied in level of success in doing so
Instructional
course themes
in LIS
427

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