Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Look Out, Honey, 'Cos Librarians Are Using Technology

Yesterday, the head of a county library system came to speak to my class. Looking out at her audience, future librarians in various states of alertness, she said: "If you are entering the library field, know something about technology. Know about computers." Chuckling, she said, "I probably wouldn't get hired today."

Our guest speaker's advice echoes the findings of the Ithaka S+R US Library Survey 2013, released on March 11, 2014, and sponsored by ExLibris, Gale CENGAGE Learning, JSTOR, and SAGE. According to the survey: "New hires are expected to concentrate in emerging and growing areas such as web services; digital preservation; and instruction, instructional design, and information literacy services, with declines expected in areas such as reference, technical services, and print collection management."

Responding to the survey question, "To the best of your knowledge, will your library add or reduce staff resources in any of the following areas over the next 5 years?," those surveyed said they will add resources (hire) in the following areas, in descending order:

  • Instruction, instructional design, and information literacy services
  • Digital preservation and archiving
  • Web services and information technology
  • Archives, rare books, and special collections
  • Assessment and data analytics
  • Specialized faculty research support (digital humanities, GIS, data management, etc.)
  • Electronic resources management
  • Subject specialists and departmental liaisons
  • Development and fundraising

The areas that will receive less staff resources in the next 5 years, according to the survey's respondents, include reference; technical services, metadata, and cataloging; access services (circulation, ILL, etc.); collections development; print preservation and collections management; finance, business operations, and human resources; and attorneys and paralegals. My guess as to why these areas will be getting less support in the future is that a lot of these job responsibilities are either increasingly being outsourced or are slowly being made obsolete due to the growing automation of library services, to more people having personal access to electronic sources of information retrieval, and to more people reading e-books and other electronic literature.

An infographic that I came across confirms that librarians today must take on new roles in this digital age. To see the infographic, go to THIS LINK.

Above image via

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