ELAG

The European Library Automation Group, brings together once a year people involved in library automation in the leadingEuropean libraries and information centres. The organization counts 450 members in 27 countries all over Europe. Last years over 100 colleagues attended the seminars.

The meetings aim at in depth discussions of particular library automation topics and at the promotion of informal exchange ofideas and experience. The topics covered are technical and meant for participants with computing background.

26 - 28 April 2006 Bucharest, Romania

Workshop WS7: IT curricula for libraries - Discussion guidelines 

Anna Maria Tammaro, University of Parma (Annamaria.tammaro@unipr.it) 

New technologies push for new competences and profiles in libraries. Until now there has not been enough discussion on this subject among all the interested stakeholders, like teachers, professionals, students, library associations, etc. Such a discussion is needed to define both traditional re-qualified roles and competences for new roles. Surely, new profiles are at different level of technical and management qualifications and they require an in depth rethinking of principles, methodologies and disciplinar criteria. The labour market in Europe is extensively using the new technologies in libraries and information centers, but the education is still based on a continous apprentiship or on episodic training and updating courses, with poor results in enabling professionals to apply the new technologies and to use all the opportunities available for better services. 

With the introduction of digital resources in the libraries, the last years have seen an increasing need of positions (as System Librarian, Digital Librarian and Library Manager) with skills in IT technologies. The labor market is now beginning to ask for specialized skills, but there is a serious shortage of such skills, mainly due to the lack of formal (and informal) opportunities for education in Information Technology (IT) profiles suited for libraries. Policy measures that could be adopted in response to such needs will take time to be developed and implemented, and their results in the emergence of an increased skill supply will be seen only in the medium-long term.  

The primary objective of the ELAG Workshop is to identify and define the IT profiles and skills needed in libraries and information centers, and to propose a set of educational actions that could result in making those skills available in the short-medium term. There are some reports, realised by European Union and by CERTIDOC (EUROGUIDA), which represent an important starting point for the discussion. The problem of IT in profiles and curricula is common to the broader humanistic area and the discussion could include also the specific needs of other communities (there is an ongoing discussion on Humanities and Computer).  

The debate about this issue started in Parma at the Seminar organised by the International Master in Information Studies together with ELAG and DELOS with the aim to collaborate by defining educational offers, including the most recent results in digital library technology research. The major result of the Seminar has been the discussion in three breakout parallel sessions, for the profiles of System manager, Library manager and Digital Librarian and the realisation of a matrix for the listing of competences needed. The matrix (see Tab. 1) has on the x-axis 4 core roles of the digital librarian and vertically – some of the most important competencies of the digital librarian. 

The ELAG Workshop has the following objectives:

  1. Definition of core competences and specific ones;
  2. Definition of the most important roles of the nowadays librarian;
  3. Listing and definition of the core skills and competencies for each of the roles;
  4. Listing and definition of traditional skills and competencies still valid in the digital environment, which of them change, which new ones are added.

 

The idea is to put a grade (1-6 scale) of each competence for each role in order to define how important is the competence for the role. The debate could start using the matrix, which could be developed and improved with the help of other colleagues during the ELAG Workshop. 

In particular, the focus could be on the Digital librarian, who can be defined as  

  • a bridge between digital resources and users (the role of facilitator, also remotely);
  • an agent of innovation, of citizenship, of information literacy etc. (the concept for the digital librarian as a mentor, as a friend of the user, as a personal trainer, who guides the user);
  • social role of the librarian is still strong, even stronger in digital environment (the concept for social inclusion in digital environment);
  • pedagogical skills get stronger in digital environment (teaching digital librarian) – the concept of the digital library as a virtual classroom.
  • the use of IT extends the core roles of the librarian, or helps the librarian to do these roles better;
  • the competencies, skills, roles vary, dependent on the specific type of the library or information center, where the digital librarian works
  • the digital librarian must has commitment to continuous learning and life long improving of skills in all areas of digital applications, services etc.  

Other specific focus could be on the System librarian, who has been defined as:

“System librarian role is unique. Not only does it require knowledge of both libraries and computers, but also require the ability to reconcile the two of them in order to create an operational context.” (Ingersoll – Culshaw, 2004).

Tab . 1  Matrix of IT curricular in libraries