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Communication skills in a Library 2.0

21 Jul
Old phoneboxes

Old Phoneboxes ~ cc licensed and shared by Steve Parker

The past week, my study has enabled me to focus on the necessary digital skills for librarians and offer up what I felt was the most important skill required of a librarian today.

In reading chapter 0 from Burke (2009, pp 3-9), the following list of technologies or technological skills used on a regular basis have been offered up by surveyed responses from librarians…

Table 0-1 from Burke(2009, p. 6)

Technology or technology skill

Percentage of respondents
E-mail 97.9
Word Processing 96.2
Web searching 94.1
Searching library databases 92.7
Using an integrated library sytem 86.3
Web navigation 80.7
Teaching others to use technology 79.1
Spreadsheets 78.3
File management/operating system navigation skills 62.3
Troubleshooting technology 61.9
Presentation software 60.01
Scanners and similar devices 57.8
Database software 54.1
Educational copyright knowledge 47.6
Creating online instructional materials/products 43.0
Making technology purchase decisions 40.2
Installing software 38.7
Web design 38.7
Instant messaging 36.7
Computer security knowledge 32.6
Blogging 28.4
Installing technology equipment 24.9
Graphic design 21.3
Assistive/adaptive technology 18.1
Network management 10.9
Other 9.8
Computer programming 8.5

In looking at this list, I questioned my own skills. I treated the list as if it is a checklist leading to an assessment of my own proficiencies and offerings to the field of librarianship. The following is a snippet from my forum contribution in the past week regarding my offerings and areas that I would like to develop.

One skill that I am embarrassed to admit I am not proficient at is creating and integrating spreadsheets. Most people present it as being incredibly straightforward and easy to grasp. It is an area I have never really mastered. (more learning needed!)
However, I am confident with Media Production and the use of media production tools and software as I have made films and worked with final cut Pro, photoshop and basic animation tools. I have made audio plays and documentaries with open source software like audacity.

In playing around with the blog I am definitely interested in learning and expanding my knowledge of html, and how to manipulate code for customization. CSS is something I would like to have a better grasp of.

I am very interested in audio-visual archives and the process. I was surprised to learn that there is no set standard in this area and felt somewhat baffled/concerned when you consider the importance of audio-visual material over the last one hundred years and earlier (not to mention currently). I believe this to be a very organic process that can even incorporate projects as a form of archiving or documenting. I discovered that National Archive Australia is engaged in this way and I find this very interesting and relevant.
Digital preservation and web archiving is something I am definitely interested in learning more about.

Accessibility and improving access is another area that I am very interested in learning about. This is where concepts such as elibraries and websites become important as well as understanding community and provision via outreach services.

I have only just started delving into shared online spaces and communities for learning or collecting sources whether they be videos, blogs or other relevant digital ideas. It is definitely an expansive world and learning how to organize and become efficient with various sources and ideas is something I need to develop further.

Social networking online is something I have always been wary of as I worry about the trade-off with Privacy. This is an area I need to explore and learn more about and how it relates to Library 2.0.

Copyright is something I definitely want to get my head around in the online world and the concept of mashups as a form of production/reproduction…

What I do question is whether it is necessary for one individual person to have all these skills mentioned or is the process of internetworking, communication and sharing information and skills a way to achieve this list. To put it another way for emphasis, do we as a profession multi-skill or do we share expertise and offer specific areas of expertise from our past specialisations  as a way to strengthen the whole?

When you consider the range of people studying the Masters in Information Studies and the vast variety of fields one can work in upon graduation or during study, it becomes clear that each person has their own specific skillset and expertise to offer to the field of librarianship/information specialist.

…So what is the most important digital skill needed today?

In addition to understanding databases, catalogues and how to search effectively, being adaptable in a constantly evolving technological environment and having an ability to instruct people in the use of technologies for information purposes, there is one other skill that I feel is vital in today’s information landscape. That is communication via various formats to improve access to libraries and information.

The following interview with Librarian in Black delves into the importance of communication and how technology tools can help in bringing the library 2.0 people and people to the library.

The Librarian in Black interview from Jaap van de Geer on Vimeo.

Burke, J.J. (2009) Neal-Schuman Library Technology Companion: A basic guide for Library Staff, 3rd edition, Neal-Schuman Publishers Inc, New York.

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