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Job descriptions for library of the future

Won’t include the word “librarian”

December 10, 2013

Home Blog Job descriptions for library of the future

One recruiting task we often get asked to do is to create job descriptions for library staff positions. Increasingly hiring managers, especially from law firms and other private sector organizations, are saying they don’t want a librarian!

Really what they don’t want is the outdated image of a librarian handling paper books and other reading materials. They want people who can “handle” digital information stored in virtual libraries.

A quick search of the current Library & Information job listings we have for our clients does result in positions for what I would call “conventional” librarian roles, yet these opportunities remain mostly in a public or academic library setting. For example, a listing for Library Material Handler is at a federal government library. This job really does involve the handling of paper books and other physical materials.

Otherwise, a sampling of positions available in the Library & Information Management category includes the following:

  • Implementation Program Manager responsible for leading individual libraries through the implementation of new Identity Management (IDM) solutions.
  • Member Services Consultant to conduct member site visits, participate in conferences, develop programming, lead and manage local and national events for member libraries and associations.
  • Project Manager to oversee the daily scheduling, prioritization and workflow of the intake and fulfillment team working to support in-house media library operations.
  • Data Migration Librarians to assist OCLC member libraries with the migration of data to a new worldwide management system (WMS).

In other words, not too much in the way of locating books on shelves.

As for the qualifications for these jobs?

  • Experience customizing web based applications and managing authentication systems.
  • Basic knowledge of HTTP, PHP, Java and Regular Expressions.
  • Project management experience – managing relationships, scheduling project plans.
  • Experience producing high-quality deliverables in fast-paced, deadline-oriented environment.
  • Experience working collaboratively with other departments such as product management, quality assurance, sales.
  • Ability to proactively identify problems and opportunities and act upon them.
  • Excellent speaking, writing, interpersonal and relationship-building skills.

In other words, not too much in the way of locating books on shelves.

Some positions continue to ask for educational requirements that include an MLS from an ALA-accredited institution, yet increasingly hiring managers are looking for computer science and other information management credentials.

The Job Description for the Future Librarian

The above descriptions and qualifications should give hiring managers an idea of what to include in their listings and candidates an idea of what to include in their CVs and resumés – and most importantly, making sure they have developed these skills.

The digital, virtual library is here, requiring digital information management skills. In addition, organizations are looking for important soft skills like communication and teamwork, as well as greater understanding of the industry in which they operate and compete.

The job description of the future librarian will read something like the following:

Wanted: Information guru who can help find answers to the most pressing questions facing our organization and the environment in which we operate and compete. Must be knowledgeable on internet, cloud computing and other digital information technologies. Responsibilities include resource management, information curation, research for competitive intelligence and other business-critical purposes. Must be available as a resource to all users, no matter who they are or what digital device they use. Prefer somebody with experience in our industry and project management expertise. Must be a team player and good problem solver.

Now that I think of it, that’s not a job description for the future librarian – it’s one for today.

Rob Corrao

Rob Corrao

As CEO, Rob is responsible for direction, strategy and overall performance of the company. He has deep experience in growing and running all aspects of the business, which affords him the opportunity to align client-centric delivery values and thinking with internal needs and operations.
Rob Corrao

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