Because today’s librarians must be experts in dealing with both physical and digital information, we have identified the Top 5 skills every librarian must have, or develop, in order to succeed now and into the future. I will touch on all five today and explore them individually in the weeks to come.
1. Information Curation
Since the primary role of any type of library is information curation, the need for that skill set will never go away. However it will evolve as volume and variety of information expands. As content creation becomes available to all, information curation becomes a more critical skill. Librarians are becoming increasingly vital in the process of evaluating and editing what is most valuable, as well as categorizing and classifying it for easy retrieval and use.
2. In-Depth, High Value Research
The digital information environment operates mostly on a ‘Find It Yourself’ paradigm, a model that has threatened the very existence of librarians. Yet finding what they need and want can be a significant challenge for consumers and users of information. Most people lack good research skills and all of us are dealing with a velocity and volume of information that is difficult to manage. As the proverbial haystack gets bigger, finding the needle gets tougher, making librarians a valuable go-to resource.
3. Digital Preservation
Libraries have traditionally held physical resources – books, magazines, maps, etc. Now those physical assets are increasingly digitized, plus the original source of much content being generated today is in digital ‘e’ format. Therefore the transition for librarians is to know how to preserve and manage digital assets, and to be familiar with the systems and tools that are used in the process.
4. Mobile Environment
As more information is being store in the cloud, and searched for and consumed using mobile devices, librarians must be familiar with and knowledgeable about the mobile environment. Librarians skilled in the use of mobile devices like tablets and smartphones can help ensure that their limitations and their strengths are being considered and built-in to the library’s information systems and portals. Librarians should understand the pros and cons of cloud computing, to serve as advisers and consultants to those decisions as they apply to information curation and digital preservation.
5. Collaboration, Coaching and Facilitation
Librarians who prefer dealing with information over people will need to push out of their comfort zones. They must become a more vital resource in facilitating strategic decisions around information procurement and information budgets. They must assume more of a coaching/facilitation/training role as they advise groups about procuring outside data and making the best use of it. They can position themselves as valuable resources by collaborating more actively with management and leadership within the organizations they work.
Librarians who adopt these skills will revitalize their careers, increase the visibility and viability of their profession, and become valued as the important information management professionals they are.