Future competence needs

Tine Jørgensen is chairwoman of the Danish Union of Librarians (BF), she has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and has i.a. worked for IBM. I met her for a conversation about competencies of the future.

Tine Jørgensen. Photo: Jacob BoserupWhich competencies do you think are needed most in the library right now?

“I have been inspired by 21st century skills that may also be used in a library context. The four areas particularly under discussion are: Collaboration, Critical thinking, Information literary and Global awareness. It makes perfect sense to keep up-todate in a wider context, because we have to address what society and its citizens need. The four areas accord very well with the library idea and the libraries are already supporting all the areas – for example by collaborations with volunteers and partnerships and by increasingly including critical thinking in learning and cultural initiatives.”

In your experience, does the library world have similar expectations?

“Absolutely. Over the past couple of years, there has been an increased focus on learning tracks in the library sector. 21st century skills will meet with sympathy among leaders and members of staff, as they are familiar areas to us – only without being termed that way. What should be understood by the word learning is also a question of passing on the capabilities of the librarian, for example information searching and source criticism. Much emphasis is placed on that e.g. in projects with school collaborations.”

What does the concept ‘learning’ mean to the library profession?

“The discussions have been in relation to a library context and to what it means to be a librarian. What do we, for example, understand by library didactics and pedagogics? The librarians have over the years done various things in order to encourage reading for pleasure, but there is room for improvement and being more specific. I am sure it would be of great benefit to our profession to be able to more clearly express our understanding of learning, which also would result in a professionalization.”

How does BF work with competencies of the future?

“At BF we attach great importance to focusing more on the offbeat angles and getting wiser. In relation to the world around us, it is very much a question of making the members’ competencies visible and selling them to our stakeholders and interested parties. I have, for example, visited the Minister for Education and explained the role of librarians and libraries, i.a. in order to bring into play the dynamics in relation to other professional groups.”

Considering the major societal tendencies, do you feel that some competencies will be more sought-after than others in the future?

“The librarian’s core product is to use information systems and teach information searching. That is extremely important. But many people are by now able to manage by themselves, so we are probably looking at more general competencies. In recent years, the sector has moved slightly away from the role of specialist. But along with a changed consumption of culture, the specialized domains have again become important, for example a librarian with specialist knowledge of children and reading, or about music and literature, who can provide the optimal service and guidance to the consumer of culture. Hence, both generalist and specialist knowledge is important. The users are capable of many things today, but they don’t necessarily have access to the specialised knowledge they need. The libraries should work with new competence models in order to provide a feeling of confidence and inclusion for their members of staff in relation to the changes that are happening at the moment. Further education is important, just as it is important to move outside our own context to learn something new.”

Which competencies do you need to have available in your local library?

“I would like to meet a professional person, who knows something about a specific subject, and who can help me to find something I have not been able to find myself. I should like to be inspired and challenged. My digital library consumption is primary Filmstriben via recommendations and inspiration at Litteratursiden and social media, where librarians mediate and recommend, for example via #bogsnak.”

Senior Advisor Agency for Culture and Palaces