Issues in Academic Librarianship

I stumbled upon this article about issues currently facing academic libraries. It’s definitely worth a read. Three overall categories jumped out at me.

The first is about literacies, both of the librarians and the students. Point three is about passing along different literacies to the students, and moving beyond the one-time “how to use a library” session. The author also calls out, though, new things in which librarians must become fluent–massive open online courses (MOOCs), web development and the ability of librarians to manage their own online content, and a new understanding of humanities and social science research that is hard data-based. I find it extremely interesting that two out of three points are about literacies the librarians must develop. We pride ourselves on being purveyors of knowledge, and yet these are issues that are not being addressed on our end.

The other two umbrella themes tie into my library management course. The issue of vendor clout is a business topic that runs through this article. The potential incorporation of ebooks into collections, software licenses and user privacy, and librarians doing their own web development instead of relying on outside companies points to a need for business negotiation skills. Vendors still have a lot of influence and are in a position of power in vendor/library relationships. If librarians are trained in these kinds of vendor negotiation and technology skills, academic libraries  can assert themselves more strongly in these issues.

Secondly, the author brings up a need for what I would call “business techniques”–making budgets, librarians trained in management, and the need for effective change management.

These struck me as interesting since the incorporation of “business” topics and techniques into librarianship is often a hot topic of debate in LIS literature–often being argued against. This could perhaps indicate a divide between the theoretical foci of the field and the “on the ground” realities.

What do you think?

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