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10 skills librarians need for the future

Identifying and exploring future trends impacting on academic libraries

Laura Montgomery Communications Manager, Taylor & Francis

Roisin GwyerTo keep up with the pace of change in the academic library, the traditional skillset of the librarian is expanding. In her article, “Identifying and exploring future trends impacting on academic libraries” published in New Review of Academic Librarianship, Roisin Gwyer used journal content analysis, focus groups, and trend reports to identify future trends likely to impact on academic libraries. From this analysis it is possible to predict some areas for skills development for library leaders. Many of these skills are enduring but need reinterpretation in a digital world.

1. Change management

Higher education is a constantly changing sector – policy, technology, pedagogy and student behaviour all impact on the institution. The academic library is subject to these changes and there is a need to keep reviewing and renegotiating the position of the library within the institution. Being able to manage change effectively is one of the top skills for library leaders.

2. Proving value

In an increasingly evidence and data driven sector it is more important than ever that libraries prove their value to the organisation, showing a return on the investment made in them. Improving the student experience and demonstrating a contribution to student success build on the trusted library brand.

3. Influencing and negotiation

Effective change to make a demonstrable difference relies on being able to influence and negotiate within the institution. These skills are also important in an increasingly collaborative world.

4. Creativity and innovation

The pace of change means that incrementalism is no longer the only game in town, more radical thinking is needed.

5. Supporting research in a digital world

Scholarly communication is evolving as it becomes digital: open access, altmetrics, data sharing, digital humanities, text/data mining and using social media to disseminate and fund research are some of the areas developing currently.

6. Digital literacy

The role of the library in preparing students (and the academic staff who support them) for a digital world is of continuing and increasing importance.

7. Marketing

Although the physical library space is still popular there is intense competition within the digital space. Academic libraries have to be able to maximise access to digital and print content and services to show the USP of the library in an increasingly embedded world.

8. Digital Information management

Issues of information ownership, rights management, curation, preservation, communication and dissemination of digital information are important issues for information-rich organisations such as universities.

9. Developing and managing space

As use of library real estate continues to increase developing our physical and virtual spaces to support pedagogical developments is critical. Evidence-based approaches to space development, such as using ethnographic approaches to space use, are becoming more popular. As is evaluating the effects of space on learning and attainment.

10. Collaboration

New collaborations within and outside of the institution are growing. As social media and digital working make the world smaller then global collaboration, supporting international research collaborations, transnational education and globalising the curriculum increase in importance.

About the author

Roisin Gwyer is University Librarian at the University of Portsmouth where she leads a stand-alone service, and is currently leading an institution wide project to develop a digital and physical student ‘one-stop shop’. Prior to working at Portsmouth she worked at the University of Chichester, local government and the NHS. Roisin is a Fellow of CILIP, a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is currently serving on the SCONUL Executive Board.
Twitter – @roisingw

Read the full article

Identifying and exploring future trends impacting on academic libraries: a mixed methodology using journal content analysis, focus groups and trend reports. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 21(3): 269-285

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