NASIG 2013: Getting to the Core of the Matter — Competencies for New E-Resources Librarians
Speakers: Roën Janyk (Okanagan College) & Emma Lawson (Langara College)
Two new-ish librarians talk about applying their LIS training to the real world, and using the Core Competencies as a framework for identifying the gaps they encountered. They wanted to determine if the problem is training or if eresources/serials management is just really complicated.
Collection development, cataloging (both MARC and Dublin Core), records management, and digital management were covered in their classes. Needed more on institutional repository management.
They did not cover licensing at all, so all they learned was on the job, comparing different documents. They also learned that the things librarians look for in contracts is not what the college administrators are concerned about. In addition, the details of information about budgeting and where that information should be stored was fuzzy, and it took some time to gather that in their jobs. And, as with many positions, if institutional memory (and logins) is not passed on, a lot of time will be spent on recreating it. For LIS programs, they wish they had more information about the details of use statistics and their application, as well as resource format types and the quirks that come with them.
They had classes about information technology design and broader picture things, but not enough about relationships between the library and IT or the kinds of information technology in libraries now. There were some courses that focused on less relevant technology and history of technology, and the higher level courses required too high of a learning curve to attract LIS students.
For the core competency on research analysis and application, we need to be able to gather appropriate data and present the analysis to colleagues and superiors in a way that they can understand it. In applying this, they ran into questions about comparing eresources to print, deciding when to keep a low-use resource, and other common criteria for comparing collections besides cost/use. In addition, there needs to be more taught about managing a budget, determining when to make cancelation or format change decisions, alternatives to subscriptions, and communicating all of this outside of the library.
Effective communication touches on everything that we do. It requires that you frame situations from someone else’s viewpoint. You need to document everything and be able to clearly describe the situation in order to trouble-shoot with vendors. Be sympathetic to the frustrations of users encountering the problems.
Staff supervision may range from teams with no managerial authority to staff who report to you. ER librarians have to be flexible and work within a variety of deparmental/project frameworks, and even if they do have management authority, they will likely have to manage projects that involve staff from other departments/divisions/teams. They did not find that the library management course was very applicable. Project management class was much more useful. One main challenge is staff who have worked in the library for a long time, and change management or leadership training would be very valuable, as well as conversations about working with unionized staff.
In the real world being aware of trends in the profession involves attending conferences, participating in webinars/online training, and keeping up with the literature. They didn’t actually see an ERMS while in school, nor did they work with any proprietary ILS. Most of us learn new things by talking to our colleagues at other institutions. MLS faculty need to keep up with the trends as well, and incorporate that into classes — this stuff changes rapidly.
They recommend that ILS and ERMS vendors collaborate with MLS programs so that students have some real-world applications they can take with them to their jobs. Keep courses current (what is actually being used in libraries) and constantly be evaluating the curriculum, which is beyond what ALA requires for accreditation. More case studies and real-world experiences in applied courses. Collection development course was too focused on print collection analysis and did not cover electronic resources.
As a profession, we need more sessions at larger, general conferences that focus on electronic resources so that we’re not just in our bubble. More cross-training in the workplaces. MLS programs need to promote eresources as a career path, instead of just the traditional reference/cataloger/YA divides.
If we are learning it all on the job, then why are we required to get the degrees?