I work in a progressive department of my academic library, where we are not unknown for making ‘leaps’ in the interest of efficiency, and effective service. In the wake of this of course, are the long term employees who have ‘seen it all before’ and quite rightly would expect things to go full circle again within x number of years. The only thing is, we have reached a point of no return. I’m not sure there was ever a circle or cycle of changes to be honest, but each to their own. This point of no return I’m referring to, is the loss of ‘traditional’ library skills such as cataloguing and indexing. The Information Assistants that toil away in my department (Content & Development) are all acutely aware that the skills they did have are no longer required for the work that we are increasingly starting to do, which by the way, happens to be more along the lines of file management, systems navigation (for metadata amendments), and digital repository submissions.
With this in mind, I have started to wonder if we shouldn’t have a nominated person to fulfil the role of new and replacement skills support officer – someone who can nurture a skills set for the next decade in librarianship, who can be an advocate for replacement skills “so you might be losing that, but you are gaining this” and the benefits of that in todays job market, and general information seeking in the every day world.
AACR2 descriptive cataloguing skills ( and developing RDA cataloguing knowledge)
Specifically the ability to select Subject Headings and/or keywords for Masters dissertations and PhD Theses
To be replaced with:
1. Creating Access reports and simple databases
2. File management
3. Excel spreadsheets – creation and manipulation
4. Specific LM Systems training e.g Ex Libris (Voyager, Metalib)
5. Quality checking of repository (self-desposit by student) submissions
6. Customer liaison skills – training, troubleshooting and be able to support presentations to Faculties by Subject Librarians (information literacy)
The skills set for a library assistant for the next decade in the Library World in my opinion would be more strongly based around the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) qualification, and unfortunately and with much regret do I say; Do not expect to see a book!
So, right here I am going to push support for Libraries and their books and the Professionals who run this business of keeping me informed, with knowledge, with history, with the facility to learn!