21st Century Librarianship – Part 2, Technology


So, do I think I can give you the answers to this ill-defined notion? Not hardly!

What I hope to be able to do is summarize some of the 21st Century Librarianship changes and skills that circumstances are requiring in order for librarians to continue to make a significant contribution in this new environment. (Thanks also to the collaborative efforts of my colleagues.)

Now more than ever, there are additional skills and broader knowledge required for librarians to be successful, much more than is taught in Schools of Library and Information Science (SLIS). Keep in mind that I said “additional skills and broader knowledge”, but what SLIS focus on is the librarianship theory.

Masters level education is virtually all theory based, which is highly important, but not all encompassing. My most favorite “truism” I learned many years ago was that: “Theory without practice is empty and practice without theory is blind.” [Kidd, J. R. (1973). How Adults Learn. New York: Association Press.] In other words, an MLS is not enough to be successful as a 21st Century Librarian. Today’s librarians require additional skills, most of which won’t be taught in SLIS.

Let’s begin this series with:

Librarian 2.0+ Skills
This is a derivation of the Learning 2.0 from Helene Blowers that went around the world in 2007 and 2008. It included:

    • Set up your own blog, locate a few useful library related blogs and/or news feeds.
    • Explore Flickr and learn about this popular image hosting site.
    • Have some Flickr fun and discover some Flickr mashups & 3rd party sites.
    • Learn about RSS feeds.
    • Play around with an online image generator.
    • Take a look at LibraryThing and catalog some of your favorite books.
    • Roll your own search tool with Rollyo.
    • Learn about tagging and discover a Del.icio.us (a social bookmaking site)
    • Explore Technorati and learn how tags work with blog posts.
    • Read a few perspectives on Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and the future of libraries.
    • Learn about wikis and discover some innovative ways that libraries are using them.
    • Add an entry to the Learning 2.0 SandBox wiki.
    • Take a look at some online productivity (word processing, spreadsheet) tools.
    • Explore any site from the Web 2.0 awards list, play with it and write a blog post
    • Discover YouTube and a few sites that allow users to upload and share videos.
    • Discover some useful search tools for locating podcasts.
    • Review the titles available on NetLibrary, learn how to download audiobooks.

[I didn’t add any hyperlinks since this is relatively old information, and most librarians are already familiar with these skills.]

In the past three years there have been other technologies that have hit the market that also require knowledge and understanding among librarians. Most of this technology is “mobile” oriented. Michael Porter presented “Gadget Checklist 2010 for WebJunction, that included Peripherals, Mobile Devices, and E-Books and Digital Audio Books. The session is archived at http://www.webjunction.org/mobile-devices/-/articles/content/106452201, and reviewed at my Post of October 12, “21st Century Libraries Include “Gadget” Technology”.

NOTE: I am not suggesting that ALL librarians must know or understand ALL of these technologies. What I am suggesting is that when 21st Century Librarians recognize a service need their customers have, they should know how to find out what technologies can fill that need and which (if any) will best satisfy their library’s mission.

The important thing about librarians understanding technology is the application to fulfill a customer service. Past models proposed “customer service responses” (Sandra Nelson and June Garcia’s New Planning for Results) that presumably described the “core” library services. 20th Century libraries could pick and choose those service responses that met their community’s needs and incorporate them into their strategic plan.

21st Century Library models (of which there are no comprehensive ones) would outline the services in terms of delivery, as well as type, and customer segment. Delivery is a paramount concern in this new technology rich environment, where delivery was pretty much standard in previous decades – not too many alternatives – but, delivery options now range from traditional to digital to mobile, and who knows what in another 5 years. Also, services are now more specific to customer segments as well. A service for a Digital Fugitive customer would be very different for a Digital Native customer. It makes a difference!

What other Librarian2.0+ technology skills would you recommend for 21st Century Librarianship?

More to come…………………
Next up: 21st Century Librarianship – Part 3:
Determine your relevance to your community

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