The phrase ‘academic discipline’ certainly incorporates many elements, such as school discipline, college discipline, and so on. In the institutional scenario, a discipline means a teacher, professor, or a proctor who controls the organization with stipulated rules and regulations. The terms for academic disciplines like Science, Humanities, Arts, and so on are technical terms for the organization of learning and the systematic production of new knowledge.
Hopefully, this should remove doubts about considering librarianship a discipline. It meets all requirements like any other discipline. It follows theories, produces research, runs organizations, is taught at the university level, and carries other academic requirements as other disciplines have. Today’s people are in doubt whether librarianship is a discipline or not. They should not
Every discipline follows a few traits and attributes such as Engineering, Law, Medical Sciences, Applied Sciences, and others. This discipline becomes authoritative when it follows the identified traits devised by experts in their concerned field. Librarianship as a discipline can be categorized by following the parameters formulated by subject experts. Many people believe that librarianship is neither a profession nor a discipline. Librarianship as a profession has already been defined in my recent column written in another newspaper; but, the discipline as a subject can be over-viewed in the article which you are reading. The question arises whether Librarianship is considered to be disciplined or not. The answer is yes.
A discipline has a particular research object, such as law, politics, society, and others. Research in one field may sometimes be correlated with other disciplines, such as the role of libraries in Information Communication Technology (ICT). Information technology is a broad topic of computer science, but it has a high impact on library services. Similarly, Medical Sciences use the term technologies in their research. So it combines two subjects for research in a specific discipline.
A discipline’s second trait is the accumulation of specialist knowledge. It means theorists produce theories in their discipline, and this knowledge is accumulated to make a discipline. These are guiding principles for any discipline taught at school, college and university level or other similar institutions. An example of accumulative knowledge in Librarianship is the Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme (DDC). the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), etc.
The third trait defines the subject as discipline is the existence of theories and concepts that help accumulate specialist knowledge. Philosophers produce these theories in concerned disciplines and they discuss the subject of the discipline with logic and practical knowledge. Some popular theorists in librarianship are Gabriel Naudé, Martin Schrettinger, S.R. Ranganathan, etc. These theorists accumulate knowledge with logic which defines the subject as a discipline.
The fourth trait of a discipline is the use of specific terminologies in their relevant field. All disciplines have specific technical languages adjusted to their research objects; the accounting terms are different from medical terms, Applied sciences terms are different from natural sciences. Library science as a discipline uses different terms such as catalogue, bibliography, indexing, etc., which is difficult for another discipline to understand.
The fifth attribute for specifying a discipline is the institutional manifestations of the subject taught at college and university levels. All disciplines have their professional associations for recognition. All have a recognized growing body of scholarship. All disciplines train their workers with continuing education. In librarianship, some broad associations are American Library Associations, Pakistan Library Associations, among others. These organizations uplift their members and guide them to grow in their profession up to a higher level.
The sixth trait of a discipline is learning through scholarly investigation that provides a structure for the students at graduate and postgraduate levels. These scholarly contents make the discipline distinct from other disciplines. In librarianship, scholarly research is increasing day by day, which is a good omen for this subject.
The seventh trait for an academic discipline is affiliation with the department at the university level. These departments provide advanced research scholarships for their graduates to promote the discipline. Across the globe, different universities offer librarianship at the graduate and postgraduate levels. In Pakistan, different schools are working to promote librarianship as a discipline.
The eighth attribute of a discipline as a subject is professional training in the concerned discipline. These pieces of training make the discipline distinguished from other disciplines. Knowledge experts carry the training in the concerned field. Training might be at the administrative level, such as leadership programmes, or it might be the advancement of IT skills of their professionals.
The ninth attribute of any discipline is the subject at higher education level such as Archaeology, Anthropology, Space Science and Library and Information Sciences, etc. These subjects are taught to produce experts in the field as a discipline.
In short, all individuals associated with academic disciplines are commonly referred to as experts or specialists in the field to train them and educate them to follow the ethical code of that discipline. It also deals with the field of study, inquiry, branch of knowledge, and so on.
The author is a library officer at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). He can be reached at [email protected].