ICSU celebrates the 30th anniversary of its library education programs

The School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University (CSU) recently celebrated thirty years of teaching in the field of librarianship. Present and former staff gathered to reflect on the growth of the school, which is now the largest school of library and information management studies in Australia.

The planning for the first course commenced in 1974, with the first students being enrolled in 1975. Its aims, as expressed in the 1975 Handbook, were to:

  • promote attitudes that will encourage students to view their work professionally as a service to individuals and to society
  • equip students with professional and interdisciplinary knowledge needed to make valid judgements
  • demonstrate to students the techniques already evolved by the profession and to explain the reasons for them
  • give students the opportunity to begin to acquire skills under supervision.

These remain much the same today, although a much larger percentage of CSU's current students are already working in the field, which provides a good foundation for their studies.

From a staff of two and student numbers in their tens, CSU has now grown to be the biggest school of library and information management studies in Australia, with around 1,400 students currently enrolled. A few years after the general librarianship course got underway a specialist teacher librarianship course was established.

The growth in distance education as a mode of study, together with the rapid increase in online delivery and availability, has seen students from around the world taking on the variety of courses now on offer. Currently, CSU has students from Mauritius, the USA, Mexico, Hong Kong, the UK and many other countries undertaking courses ranging from bachelors' to Doctoral degrees, in library science, teacher librarianship, audiovisual archiving and information architecture. Many students return to the school to tackle more advanced courses.

There are now sixteen staff members in the school, with a range of specialisations and research interests. As the profession evolves, so too does the school. As the principles of continuing professional development and evidence-based research become more firmly entrenched in the careers of librarians and teacher librarians, so will the role of tertiary education evolve to meet the demands of a new generation of students.

In November last year, the school formally celebrated the anniversary with a dinner at the University's Wagga Wagga campus. The guest of honour, and after-dinner speaker, was Professor Joyce Kirk, who was one of the team who developed the school's programs in 1974 and is currently Pro vice-Chancellor (Students) at RMIT. The Centre for Information Studies (CIS), based in the school, will shortly be publishing online a collection of papers in Education for library and information services: A festschrift to celebrate thirty years of library education at Charles Sturt University.

Drs Philip Hider & Bob Pymm
School of Information Studies
Charles Sturt University