Thursday, 13 March 2008

Librarians coping with their future

Terry Dawson wrote an interesting comment about Meredith Farkas' "Building 21st century librarians AND libraries" and "Skills for the 21st Century Librarian", which include:

Basic Tech Competencies

  • Ability to embrace change
  • Comfort in the online medium
  • Ability to troubleshoot new technologies
  • Ability to easily learn new technologies
  • Ability to keep up with new ideas in technology and librarianship (enthusiasm for learning)

Higher Level Competencies

Project management skills
  • Ability to question and evaluate library services
  • Ability to evaluate the needs of all stakeholders
  • Vision to translate traditional library services into the online medium
  • Critical of technologies and ability to compare technologies
  • Ability to sell ideas/library services
  • Meredith Farkas ends her posting with this compelling words:

    "Technologies will come and go. Change is inevitable. But if librarians can
    adapt to and embrace change, can easily learn technologies, can keep up with
    changes in the profession, can plan for new services and evaluate old services,
    can develop services that meet the needs of all stakeholders, can evaluate
    technologies, and can sell their ideas and market services they will be better
    able to meet the challenges of changing user populations and changing

    -well. if I read these requirements, that we have to fulfil I am about to give up ;-) No, seriously: It's a lot to do.

    Terry Dawson adds rightly to this:

    "But organizational structure issues can be thornier and more political.
    It's essential for libraries to retain authority over their own technology
    decisions, but easy to lose this authority to external IT decision-makers.
    We sometimes pay in availability of resources for the privilege of
    retaining authority. The challenge extends to giving staff the ability to
    implement service ideas; management prerogatives shouldn't stand in the way
    of service, but budgets often do."

    We often get to know these constraints.
    But we also have to be aware that innovations have to be in line with the mission of the institution and the its tradition.

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