This paper aims to explore the phenomenon of the hybrid information specialist in the academic library setting. It does this in relation to curriculum development for preparatory and continuing professional education for librarianship and makes particular reference to the contemporary iSchools movement.
The paper reviews trends and developments in academic information services and the information science academy in the context of continuing technological advances and educational change. It presents a case study of curriculum development and portfolio renewal, using the specialist roles of digital library manager and information literacy educator to show how the principles of interactive planning can be applied in articulating an academic strategy to meet the changing demands of educational institutions, professional bodies and employers.
There are significant parallels between professional education and professional practice in the shifting boundaries, expanded portfolios and challenged identities evident in the current information marketplace. A combination of continuous incremental development with periodic fundamental review enables professional educators to meet the changing mandates of different stakeholder groups. When combined with a strong professional focus, the breadth and depth of multidisciplinary expertise found in a research‐led iSchool facilitates the design of specialised pathways and programmes for practitioners moving into blended roles.
Practitioners intent on careers in academic libraries should consider the opportunities and demands of hybrid blended roles when choosing educational programmes and pathways.
The paper provides a conceptual framework to illustrate the nature of emergent professional roles and current challenges facing professional educators. Ackoff's interactive planning theory is used to illuminate the problem of academic planning in complex pluralist contexts.
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