What qualifications and skills are important for digital librarian positions in academic libraries? | Choi, Y. & Rasmussen, E.
WARNING! The following video will either excite you or frighten you. Watch with caution!
It’s true, children in school now will be working jobs in the future that don’t exist yet, to fix problems we don’t know exist yet. On a similar note, 555-02 is taught entirely through a medium which wasn’t largely accessible to the public until the mid-1990’s. While I believe it has always been the case that changing societies prevent us from predicting the future (just think, according to Wikipedia the term “digital libraries” was first popularized in 1994), the interesting thing to think about is the school librarian’s role in curriculum support. With the explosion of the Internet and Web technologies, librarians of all types must accept these changes at a minimum, and be excited about them enough to take risks and experiment. If focusing on school libraries, one might arrive at many of the same conclusions that Choi and Radmussen (2009) found when studying the skills needed for digital librarians – except that there would be less emphasis for hiring a candidate with an ALA-accredited master’s degree, which I personally found surprising.
I’d like to share an anecdote of how personality, willingness to change, and skill go hand in hand when speaking of technology in a library setting. I recently met with a librarian who is in her first year at a middle school. Unfortunately for her, the librarian before her was not at all excited about the possibilities of technology, to the extent that teachers did not trust her in supporting their curriculum. The new librarian is now relying on her interpersonal and teamwork skills, which Choi and Radmussen (2009) found to be highly beneficial when investing in digital projects, to garner their attention and establish herself as a partner, rather than an impediment to their forward-thinking pedagogical practices (as the former reluctant librarian was). She deemed her first year as a “tool building year”, and is currently revamping the library’s website, experimenting with Xtranormal and Animoto, as well as various Google tools to show teachers that “library applications are very closely linked to Web technology” (Choi & Radmussen, 2009, p. 463) and that she DOES have the skills to incorporate technological resources into their curriculum. However, her web skills are primarily self-taught, so lucky for all of us in 555, we have the chance to get our feet wet in web page design – especially lucky for those of us interested in digital libraries, we will be highly eligible candidates for the 17% of employers who require knowledge of HTML coding (I imagine this number has increased since the study was first conducted in 2009).
My advice to you is not the ride the change, but be the change. I never again want to see librarian on the list of jobs that WON’T exist in 20 years, when school librarians and digital academic librarians are playing an integral part in preparing students for jobs that DON’T exist. And always remember what a little flexibility, approachability, and kindness can do to get others on board with your ideas.
Choi, Y., & Rasmussen, E. (2009). What qualifications and skills are important for digital librarian positions in academic libraries? A job advertisement analysis. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 25(5), 457-467.
Open source integrated library management systems: Comparative analysis of Koha and NewGenLib | Singh, M. & Sanaman, G.
Open source software (OSS) can be thought of as free like speech, not free as in beer. When implemented, unlike restrictive proprietary software, the freedom of open source software affords librarians more flexibility and customization to fulfill their professional responsibilities and patron needs. According to Singh and Sanaman (2012), more library managers are realizing these benefits. I’m not at all surprised that the OSS movement has gained traction in a community that sees the value in disseminating information. Even though OSS is quite promising, Singh and Sanaman purport that for long-term survival of OSS in libraries, it will be critical to include software developers and smaller vendors in developing OSS packages that stand a chance against proprietary packages (Sing and Sanaman, 2009).
After doing a simple Google search for popular or the most useful open source software, I was surprised to discover that I use many of them on a regular basis: WordPress (obviously) FileZilla, Mozzila Firefox, and VLC player. I also discovered Calibre, which is an eBook organize/manager some of you may be interested in or familiar with. With so many OSS suppliers in existence, Singh and Sanaman (2012) highlight the importance of having a “structured framework” in evaluating and testing packages up for consideration in a library, such as by using reference tools “which compare the software features and functionality as a whole,” (p. 814) as well as considering statistics and creating a checklist. The researchers quantified their analysis of Koha and NewGenLib using a rating scale between 0 and 5. I would have liked for them to expand upon who was involved in the rating decision, as each number’s corresponding value is highly subjective (i.e. excellent, very good, good, average, poor) depending up the rater’s bias, previous experience with OSS, and expectations. Nonetheless, their overall evaluation was extremely comprehensive and their advice to use their findings as a starting point for decision making holds true. It is up the “client library/librarian” to decide what software package best meet automation and ILMS needs.