Information in Information Science

I decided to begin my summer reading with Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Peter Morville & Louis Rosenfeld, or as it is commonly referred to "the polar bear book." Both Morville and Rosenfeld pursued advanced degrees in library and information science before they popularized the field of information architecture and published the first edition of this book in 1998. A large percentage of information architects hold an MLIS and it is evident in Information Architecture that Morville & Rosenfeld find strong connections between their formal education and their work.

When I began my graduate education at one of the top-rated iSchools last year, I (perhaps naively) expected a more "information" oriented curriculum. However, in my experience most library schools remain heavily focused on traditional librarianship and the information needs of academia. While these areas of scholarship are undeniably culturally and intellectually significant, the focus often seems to ignore the broader context of information needs. This is particularly perplexing at a time when the library world is going through so many painful changes. Libraries are closing or are engaged in year-round efforts to fight for funding. Many new librarians go years before landing their first professional position. At the same time, library schools continue to increase their enrollment each year with ever-expanding distance programs. I love libraries and I hope every one of them is saved, but I believe there is great work to be done outside those walls too, and that librarians are uniquely positioned to take it on.

Good information architecture combats information overload - a well-covered concept in LIS education. So, why does there appear to be so much friction between traditional and nontraditional librarianship? Why hasn't my grad program offered a course on information architecture in more than five years? Why is book cataloguing considered a more noble career path than structuring and organizing information outside of a library setting?