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UM Librarians Forum -- What A Librarian Needs to Be

This morning, I attended the Librarians' Forum, which was a great event in which I got to hear updates on the new core curriculum, the new specializations, and the upcoming undergraduate program in Community Informatics.

The last speaker on the panel was a UM Libraries Employee. Kathleen Folger is the Electronic Resources Office at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library. She spoke briefly on what it is that they look for in the upcoming generation of librarians and I thought it would be nice to share this information with you.

The following are the characteristics identified as important in being a successful librarian:
*The ability to change and evolve with the pace of change -- Things seems to change around here pretty rapidly and its important to be able to stay in touch with what's going on in and outside of the library.
*Intellectual curiosity -- This is a must for a librarian; you must care about the questions that need to be answered and want to solve them
*Comfort with ambiguity -- Comfort may not even be the best word; embracing ambiguity might be more like it. This is a must for a career in which new questions and unlikely situations can arise everyday and the tools to solve those issues are evolving at an even faster rate
*Embracing change – (Are we seeing a trend here? It sounds like librarians are doing a lot of hugging these days!) SI students need to be prepared for a career in Library 2.0, not for working with all the stereotypes that exist now. It wasn’t said, but I would also assume that having initiative would go right with this desired skill; its one thing to say, “Everyone’s using a wiki; let’s use one too!? It’s another thing to be the person to implement the most popular new technology to reach out to users – and know about it before the users even do
*Excellent communication skills – This one doesn’t need any explanation… or does it? Communication can cover a variety of medias… blogs, email, person-to-person, management, team work, etc…. in all those forums, communication – and the ability to adapt to the different user types – is key.
*The ability to collaborate -- It's so important to be able to work with your users, but also to be able to collaborate and communicate with different divisions and also across distances.
*The ability to learn how to learn -- It was expressed that having certain skills are important; but those skills are not as important as the ability to able to learn new skills and technologies

Overall, what was expressed is that UM Libraries don't want a "boxed librarian" that came out of a boxed library program for their next generation of employees. They are looking for people that have great personalities and skills, and strongly value and appreciate the profession -- and acknowledge it as a profession -- and a very important one at that!

Posted by kkowatch at May 16, 2007 02:59 PM

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