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Liberal arts and LIS paraprofessional education in the knowledge context: the cases of South Africa and Québec, Canada1

J Raju, C Jacobs


Liberal arts or general education provides students with knowledge, skills and
values that enhance their ability to use their minds effectively and to participate in society with critical discretion. In many jurisdictions, however,
paraprofessional education has not included any significant component of
general education; programmes are, for the most part, focused on technical
‘know-how’, despite increasing complexities in the roles of library technicians
brought about by the evolving knowledge context. Such tasks as reference
services, cataloguing and systems maintenance require exactly the types of
knowledge and abilities that general education fosters. Via a comparison of
programmes in South Africa and Québec, Canada, this paper invites discussion on the necessity for, and the modalities of, including substantial liberal arts components within library and information science paraprofessional curricula.

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