23:1 (2008:03) Other Serials News: Technical Services Skills

February 20, 2008 at 4:46 pm | Posted in Other Serials and E-Resources News | Leave a comment

SKILLS FOR 21ST CENTURY TECHNICAL SERVICES:
WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING? WHAT DO WE NEED?

Presenters: Emily Hicks, Director of Information Acquisition and Organization, University of Dayton; Dr. Kimberly Kelley, Dean of the School of Library and Information Science, Catholic University of America; Carlen Ruschoff, Director, Information Technology and Technical Services Division, University of Maryland Libraries; and Bill Mayer, University Librarian, American University.
Reported by Marilyn Estes

[Presented at the 83rd annual conference of the Potomac Technical Processing Librarians (PTPL), at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia, on October 5, 2007.]

Emily Hicks got the conference started with a lively presentation entitled “Across the Great Divide: Building Generational Bridges.” Hicks introduced the characteristics of the four generations currently in the workforce and explored the impact of these characteristics on workplace values, job strengths and staff cooperation. Hicks offered some strategies she had learned through her experience of managing generationals. The strategies were: good communications, flexibility, consideration, respect, and incorporating “fun” time. As Ms. Hicks pointed out, “A team that plays together, stays together.”

The next speaker, Dr. Kimberly Kelley, established an interactive dialogue with the audience, in which a list was compiled of the competencies desirable for new hires in technical services, straight from library school, to possess. Some of the suggestions were: cataloging skills; the theoretical foundations of library work; a solid foundation in the organization of information, in acquisitions, and in collection management; technical competency; and managerial skills such as hiring, firing, mentoring, developing and motivating staff. Kelley shared with the group a few principles from the American Library Association’s Office of Accreditation and Competency, principles essential for students in library school to know before they leave school and get their first job. The audience found these vague and said the principles did not mention specific competencies or what extent of practical experience is needed before starting to work in the library environment. Kelley also presented the curriculum and student competencies for Catholic University School of Library and Information Science. The audience commented that a combination of work experience and work in the classroom would provide a more effective model for new hires’ skill sets.

After lunch, Carlen Ruschoff presented the group the practitioner’s side of the discussion on competencies and skill sets. Ruschoff stated she expected library schools to provide a “solid foundation in all activities within the library.” In technical services this means “the organization of information, collection building, and understanding of basic decision making.” Ruschoff’s presentation emphasized “training that a librarian would expect to build on top of a library education.” She described how the world of knowledge and information has changed since the advent of the Web, mentioning the evolution of library services pertaining to portals, pools and providing access to materials as opposed to owning them. Ruschoff pointed out that, despite the rapid changes and the rapid rate of change, the basic mission of technical services remains the same: acquiring, cataloging and preserving materials for our libraries. A new business model, improved electronic data exchange technology, advanced applications for manipulating data, and new capabilities in metadata harvesting provide librarians with the opportunity to transform the way technical services operates. The real challenge for technical services staff, noted Ruschoff, is learning how to use new and powerful technology. To take advantage of the new features of computing applications and interfaces which allow more sophisticated use of our systems, technical services staff needs “more background in computer architecture and data structure.” Ms. Ruschoff suggested it is extremely important for librarians to have a “continuous learning regimen to build our proficiencies and competencies.”

The last speaker was Bill Mayer. His presentation was entitled “Looking Around Us: Assessing and Understanding Current and Future Trends”. This was an overview of other speakers’ discussions on the generational workplace, skills and competencies, and training. Mr. Mayer emphasized our need to trust our skills based on past performances and experiences and to market our skills and services to keep in step with future trends.

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