On new and not so new librarians

Winter in Melbin 1

I think “librarian” now means many different things in contemporary libraries and that outstanding future libraries will be full of a mix of professionally qualified people who bring an increasingly diverse range of skills to libraries. So, who are these additional or relatively new folk and what skills do they bring? Here are my thoughts.

  • ICT programming & development skills* – needed to manage repositories of research outputs and data; data archives; discovery interfaces; many large systems peculiar to libraries (e.g. RFID, ASRS, library catalogues, search and discovery layers & so many vendors’ products – databases).
  • Legal or para-legal skills** – to advise on the increasingly complex IP and Copyright environment and on the mixing/creation/reuse of licensed material by students and academics.
  • UX* – to make sure we get user interfaces and services right and iterating in the right direction.
  • New media skills** – to better understand its creation and to assist students and academics with its creation and this will become only more and more important, so that means people comfortable with the creation and editing of sound, film, images, games, online publications, social media, etc.
  • New (online) publication skills** – for OERs, ebooks & texts, OA pubs, print-on-demand, etc.
  • Design skills* – in-house as they help with all of the above; they also help with the development of a design mindset (as opposed to just plonking “good ideas” on unsuspecting punters).
  • Marketing & Comms skills* – in-house as they also help market our services to our community.
  • Curators & archivists* – to assist with “special” collection development, exhibitions and the very important cultural aspects of libraries.
  • Conservators# – depending on scale and collection needs.
  • Data Scientists (or the like) or Analysts, or “Wranglers”** (probably the most apt description) – as I think we will need a few librarians who really do understand this field and who can hold their own in environments with various data gatherers or generators like academics, students and researchers.

* Those we have already at UTS Library.

** Those we are growing or developing in-house.

# Those we don’t have or need here.

Anyone else I’ve missed or badly described?

2 comments

  1. anne beaumont

    Does every library need these skills or only those of a certain size/sector? Can they be shared or borrowed from the host institution?

    • malbooth

      Hi Anne and thanks for the comment. You’re right to question this with respect to scale and sector. I am thinking primarily about your average Australian university library, but I think that most other libraries of such scale also need most or even all of these skills.

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