Among all of the skills that I’ve pointed out as a new 21st Century librarianship skill, this one seems to encompass many of them, but if considered only in a “DUH Ya!” sort of way, one misses the depth of what being a multidisciplinary librarian really means. It really is far from DUH Ya! It’s more like “Whoaaaaaaa!”
Most often people talk about the concept of interdisciplinary skills and learning about other subjects outside of one’s primary discipline. Normally, interdisciplinary refers to study that draws from two fields and combines their various aspects together and studies the interrelations, interactions and synergies.
To me, the concept of multidisciplinary librarianship means that the librarian takes elements from all applicable areas of study as they relate to librarianship, and combines them into a practice that takes advantage of those interrelations, interactions and synergies from all disciplines, not just two.
For example; a highly effective library director (or any librarian in any position), in addition to understanding the “science” of their profession, needs to understand and be able to practice leadership, management, organizational dynamics, politics, and all the other new skills;
• Business Acumen
• Cloud Computing
• Customer Targeting
• Digital Discovery
• Discontinuous Thinking
• Open Innovation
• Planned Abandonment
• Social Networking
• Subject Matter Expert in Community
The best graphical analogy that I can think of to show this distinguishing characteristic of a 21st Century librarian is the Hindu God Ganesa, with the legendary memory of an elephant, multiple arms and ample tools. If you feel like this, then probably you are a multidisciplinary librarian.
Especially in the 21st Century, virtually no other profession requires the kind of multidisciplinary skills that librarianship requires. How long is your list of professional skills?