What is it about?

Learning the essential concepts and skills of information architecture (IA) has the potential to not only significantly extend the abilities of practicing library and information science (LIS) professionals, but also to evolve their professional identities and envisioned career opportunities. An online course on IA was designed around: the principles of threshold concepts, practical knowledge for the workplace, and professional ‘soft’ skills, such as collaboration and basic project management. The primary objective for the course was creating experiences for students in which they could discover and engage with critical concepts in IA and to collaborate with their peers to design content-rich and user-centred websites. The learning experiences of two sections of the course (n=32) were studied, through questionnaires and reflective writings, and analysed thematically. The outcome was that, in learning information architecture concepts, and acquiring and applying the concepts and tools to do information architecture work, the students did more than acquire new professional skillsets; they also evolved in their professional identities.

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Why is it important?

The primary findings were that students reported a shift in their thinking about their professional roles, in their identities relative to both the LIS and IA domains, and in what they anticipate for their future career options. Many reported in their reflective writings that the new knowledge opened up career niches within librarianship they had not previously envisioned. The students reported experiencing a shift in identity as they integrated the learning of IA concepts and skills with their application to actual projects in their current jobs as they took on new roles in their workplaces. For some of the students, the experience led them to rethink their career trajectory and to explore work environments and positions where their knowledge of IA would define their primary responsibilities, seeking to extend their IA work beyond that of an add-on role to their current position. For them, learning about IA concepts and skills, then applying them to a realistic scenario in collaborative learning activities led to a transformative shift in their mindsets, perceptions, and how they experienced their professional identity.

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This page is a summary of: Becoming an information architect: The evolving librarian’s skillset, mindset, and professional identity, Education for Information, December 2021, IOS Press, DOI: 10.3233/efi-211558.
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