Last week we listed the top five skills we believe are necessary for librarians, based on current realities, developing trends and the requests we get from library recruiting and staffing clients. They are:
- Information Curation
- In-Depth, High Value Research
- Digital Preservation
- Mobile Environment
- Collaboration, Coaching and Facilitation
This week’s article focuses on Information Curation, a field that we believe will only grow in demand, not only in traditional libraries but in business, government and other settings.
While you will see and hear the terms Information Curation (our preference, since librarians work with a diverse range of types and formats), Digital Curation and Content Curation, they all have that one important word in common: curation. And what makes curation so important for librarians is that it requires a human touch.
Information Curation Defined
We like this definition by Steven Rosenbaum, CEO of Magnify.net, which is a web-based video curation platform:
“Curation is the act of individuals with a passion for a content area to find, contextualize, and organize information… providing a reliable context for the content that they discover and organize.”
However, we would modify it slightly to create an LAC Group version:
“Curation is the act of individuals chartered with the responsibility to find, contextualize, and organize information, providing a reliable context and architecture for the content they discover and organize.”
The passion needed by librarians is not necessarily for a particular content area but for the content or information itself. In addition, an understanding of information architecture is a critical component because content that is not well classified or structured is not very useful.
Information Curation Skills
As a librarian, you may wonder what specific information curation skills you need. The following are some of the primary capabilities you should be developing and promoting:
- Research – the ability to locate and discover worthwhile information on a variety of topics from a wide range of sources.
- Editing – the ability to filter information in order to identify and select for integrity, originality, significance and relevance to the people and organizations you serve.
- Editorializing – the ability to contextualize and summarize information for deeper levels of understanding.
- Classification – the ability to categorize and provide the metadata, or ‘data about the data’ that is required if the information is to be useful and used.
- Lifecycle Management – archival skills that will ensure the integrity, security and relevance of information over time.
If these skills sound like much of your everyday work as a librarian, that’s the good news! You may simply need to shift your perspective a bit, as well as identify weaknesses that need strengthening in order to claim information curation as an area of expertise.
How to Acquire Information Curation Skills
As we just mentioned, the training and experience you have as a professional librarian have put you well on the path of being an expert. Because data curation has been viewed as an intrinsic part of most LIS programs, very few certifications or programs are dedicated to the topic. According to the Council on Library and Information Resources, only a handful of schools offer graduate certificates explicitly in data curation. They include the University of Arizona, University of California (Berkeley), University of Illinois (Champaign), University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and San Jose State University. We did not conduct exhaustive research, so if you are interested in this area of formal study, a search using the keywords that apply to your needs and interests is highly recommended. Otherwise, here’s a link to the CLIR website for more information on data curation education.
Whether you pursue additional education or focus on gaining the experience in your work, information curation is an area of expertise that every professional librarian should attain.
Links to other articles in Five Skills series: