Recently, I used the research presented in a paper called Librarian 2.0: It’s all in the attitude as the basis for reflective sessions with staff. The Wordle above was created using the full text of this article, so gives a good visual indication of the outcomes. Essentially the research participants were librarians from across the information sector, including schools, public libraries, academic and special libraries to name a few. They were asked what skills and attributes would be needed by library and information specialists to be fully functional in a Web 2.0 world.
There was strong consensus across a broad range of areas indicating that the skills and attributes required are broadening rapidly, the gap between LIS and IT skill sets is narrowing, there is a need to be business savvy, to be strongly connected to education and to demonstrably being a life-long learner.
Communication skills have always been important but are becoming more so. In this environment, librarians need to be able to speak whatever ‘language’ is appropriate to the situation they find themselves in: interpreting ‘IT speak’ for staff and patrons; the language of persuasion when engaged in marketing of services or in lobbying for funding; and in the always challenging and stimulating reference interview, made more so in the New Zealand environment with APNK and the new demographic that it brings to our libraries.
The ability to work collaboratively and engage in team work within and outside traditional library walls is crucial. We can no longer work alone, we must work closely with others whose expertise we cannot replicate. Building strong relationships within our communities, and marketing our services to new audiences are primary goals for all libraries and will require all the communication and collaborative skills we can muster.
The skills identified also included a shift in the user focus. Librarian 2.0 is “no longer the gatekeeper”, but rather a co-creator who assists patrons to find, critique and re-use the information they need. Librarian 2.0 loves working with people and engaging with Web 2.0 technologies to interact with people in new ways.
One of the participants expressed the view that Librarian 2.0 “should be able to take a room full of people with you”, and this comment summarizes the shift very nicely in my view. The old chestnut of the shushing librarian needs to be cremated and scattered to the four winds of heaven, with all due pomp and ceremony. Librarian 2.0 must be engaged and engaging, intelligent, connected, savvy. A learner who actively pursues and self-manages ongoing professional development, Librarian 2.0 is a force to be reckoned with.
The challenge is now in identifying the professionals amongst us who have the skills and attributes to lead, and to take a community of people with them.