The debate about the skills and competencies needed in a library, and the degree to which these are matched by the skill sets of librarians often appears to be based on a mishmash of personal needs, general trend analyses, professional infighting and ambiguous demands on the education sector. This is a pity, because it makes it difficult to launch a much-needed discussion about the competencies needed in libraries and the future development of librarian training courses.
When Wilhelm Widmark became the Director of the Stockholm University Library, five years ago, he decided that all new recruitments should be assessed and determined by the entire management team because all recruitments need to be strategic. This strategic thinking has led to changes within the staff at the library. Those with the skills and expertise needed for the future have already been hired.
“I want to be a research librarian”, a newly minted graduate of philosophy told us a couple of months ago. She sees research libraries as being in a process of tremendous change and as a place where she might carve an exciting career for herself. We have reached the conclusion that her wish is genuine and heartfelt. So how are we going to help her?
In the future, what are the most critical questions of a library’s HR manager? I met Saara Ihamäki, deputy library director of the Helsinki City Library, and we discussed future library work and expertise for a little while.
Viewpoint: Reading Dogs
During my early years as a teacher I read an anthology called Please Mrs Butler. The poem, “Slow Reader”, written as struggling readers read: “I – am – in – the – slow- read-ers group…” moved me to tears then and still does today. This child’s siblings had found fame in school in the football team or the Christmas play, but this little one’s claim to fame was being in the group for slow readers. The last line, “…I-hate-it”, is the line that goes straight to my heart.
Editorial: The competent library
Is a library competent? Not really, library staff are competent and the subject of Competencies in the library is of great importance for leaders and for members of staff.