In our continuing series of the Top 5 skills needed by librarians today, we cover research—but with an added twist.
The information era of big data that we are in requires in-depth research skills, and even more in demand will be analytic skill sets. Librarians who are interested and can find a way to marry those skills will have a strong basis for employment marketability and more flexible career options in the 21st century.
Big data is driving the need for research and analysis. Any object with digital components—it could be as simple as a thermometer or as complex as a jet airplane—is generating data. Meanwhile, every single person with a smartphone or other internet-connected device is adding to the river of information. All these people and devices generating diverse amounts of information is creating demand for people to categorize, discover and help make sense of the information.
Who possesses those inherent capabilities more than a librarian!
More examples are popping up to illustrate how and why the borders between classic library research and big data analytics are blurring. Consider the legal industry, where law librarians have played a key role and research is a key function. Now big data is becoming a factor. Law firms are tapping into the vast databases of legal precedent for algorithmic analysis of case law, streamlining case preparation and other added value. Law librarians who can assist with this depth of research will prove themselves to be critical team members.
In-Depth Research, Analytics and Career Opportunities
To support the growing need for big data analytics, IBM is working with over one thousand universities in the world to create big data and analytics curriculum. The company cites U.S. Bureau of Labor predictions for a 24% increase in demand for professionals with data analytics skills during the next eight years.
Librarians (or any other information management professional) with interest in data analytics should note this statement from IBM’s announcement:
“…employers in every industry are seeking job candidates who can uncover insights from data to solve problems, act on findings, enter new markets, and gain a competitive advantage.”
Also compare the U.S. Bureau of Labor prediction of 24% growth for professionals with data analytics skills and the outlook for librarians, which isn’t quite as rosy—the expectation is 7% from 2010 to 2020.
Librarians have long helped people from schoolchildren to PhDs to lawyers find content and information. That in-depth research ability remains important in a traditional library setting, yet it’s becoming increasingly valuable in many other settings. That’s why we advise librarians to take a closer look at, and find ways to develop and leverage, their underlying information discovery and management skills.
Links to other articles in Five Skills series: