How does one measure their own librarianship to determine whether they are a 21st Century Librarian? Good question. None have been written of which I’m aware.
So, where does one find an instrument – metric – outline – guide to measure whether you are a 21st Century Librarian? Over the past two years I have reviewed hundreds of articles and reports and blog posts that discuss scores of 21st Century library and librarianship ideas, concepts and actions. What I have collected and outlined below is an initial list of the major characteristics that will certainly tell you whether you are on the right path to becoming a 21st Century Librarian, or whether maybe you need a course correction.
Only you will know whether you are, or when you’ve arrived – although my concept is that it is a journey to becoming a 21st Century Librarian, rather than a destination. Considering that the 21st Century library environment is constantly changing, it would be difficult to arrive at a destination that is always moving and requiring new librarianship skills to get there.
You may be a 21st Century Librarian if you:
1. Are Creative – If you (and preferably your staff, governing body, community, stakeholders and partners) are creative about finding solutions to address your 21st Century library environment issues, then you will. That is what being a 21st Century Librarian is largely about – creating the services your community needs to also face the challenges of the 21st Century.
2. Have an Entrepreneurial Spirit – This is different than just being creative because creativity helps you find solutions, where entrepreneurial spirit enables you to accomplish those solutions. The spirit of being able to make solutions work. The spirit of being open to re-invent your library to be something more. The spirit of adventure and exploration.
3. Are Customer Oriented – The customer is the purpose! The successful 21st Century librarian will provide services to their 21st Century millennial customer, because they know who they are and what they want. The 21st Century customer is NOT the 20th Century patron. [Customer Is The Purpose]
4. Embrace Technology – Technology is here to stay. It has become a part of the fabric of the American society. A true 21st Century librarian MUST embrace technology and use it to enhance customer services and library operations, always remembering that technology is ONLY a tool. Never let the media get in the way of the message.
5. Are Business-like – In today’s environment, a librarian is much more than just a librarian. You have to know how to research, conduct formal assessments, strategically partner, problem solve outside the box, and effectively manage, politic, and lead!
6. Adopt a New Library Paradigm – The 21st Century Library will be defined by those librarians running the library to meet the needs of the local community, more than by the profession, or schools of library and information science, or by any association of librarians’ principles.
There are more than these six characteristics of a 21st Century Librarian. More will follow, because 21st Century Librarians create 21st Century Libraries.