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The Panda Syndrome: An Ecology of LIS Education

Nancy Van House and Stuart A. Sutton
Journal of Education for Library and Information Science
Vol. 41, No. 1, JELIS Anniversary Issue (Winter, 2000), pp. 52-68
DOI: 10.2307/40324088
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40324088
Page Count: 17
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The Panda Syndrome: An Ecology of LIS Education
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Abstract

The fundamental changes that are shaping the future environment of educational programs in library and information studies (LIS) are explored in the context of two overlapping ecosystems: the rapidly changing information universe in which the LIS profession operates and the university settings in which the LIS educational programs are housed. We use ecological theory—biological, organizational, and professional—and the sociological theory of Pierre Bourdieu to describe the radical nature of the change facing LIS education and to identify adaptive strategies. We warn that survival of LIS education does not necessarily mean the survival of current programs, and certainly not in their current forms. We warn that the increasing value of information is bringing other professions into the information field and changing the boundaries and rules of competition. We suggest that LIS education needs to further substitute an information-centered focus for its traditional institutional focus. Finally, we suggest that the habitus or system of dispositions of LIS, derived from libraries and the public sector, may disadvantage LIS in its competition with professions and their associated educational programs that are more accustomed to competition for domain. Because habitus consists of largely unexamined assumptions and interpretations, an awareness of it is the essential first step to determining whether it is conducive to the survival of a profession's knowledge basis, values, and practices.

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