This was a tough question to analyze. Admittedly, we could have chosen better wording to solicit more specific responses. As expected, most see a trend towards further use of technology at work and they think that library education will continue to reflect that.
Respondents seemed to agree that the future of libraries looks more technologically savvy – both in terms of the skills required (social media for marketing, digital databases, and computer programming) and in the execution of education (learning in a digital environment). But in addition to many technological topics discussed, we see a desire for more soft skills, like leadership and community outreach, and more practical, hands-on experiences as part of the programs.
How will these two trends evolve? Not only is there a lingering question of how to “teach” soft skills, it is complicated by the notion of how to teach them in an increasingly digital environment.
Responses from Library Technicians:
> “I see more marketing as being part of our job. (I should have put that in as part of a skill to be taught). More community liaison, lots of computer skills including social media skills.”
> “Increasing technical; this will also be reflected in the delivery (I suspect there will be increasingly more online options for program delivery soon).”
> “It seems there will be more of a focus on non book materials, both the cataloguing of them and the selection and care of them. There may also be a need to teach Techs how to assist the public with tools for self publishing as more libraries are making such things available.
> “Moving to combine records mngmt and computer programming into library education.”
> “To involve digital platforms management. Digital magazines, databases etc. And electronic content management from a budgetary as well as resource perspective.”
> “It should better deal with job search and employability issues.”
> “I see this library education evolving with big data, information science. I see this will be a very special area that be needed for people to organize not only library but all kind of companies or information centers.”
> “Less cataloging and typing tests, more mental health training, STEAM courses, program planning etc.”
Responses from Librarians:
> “In light of continued tensions among Librarians and Library technicians, I would hope that there is further understanding and appreciation for each role. While I would reinforce the importance of well-rounded foundational learning, I would also like to see more practical work based projects and or experiences, mentorships perhaps, to be ready to pull into the workplace.”
> “It seems like there is less of a focus on libraries and more of a focus on the many career options an MLIS could provide. For children’s librarianship, I hope to see a focus on media mentorship, using technology with kids, diverse representation in books and other materials, and a continued focus on the importance of early literacy.”
> “Guiding users through all of the information sources that continue to grow. Particularly, guiding users on assessing validity of information.”
> “I see the IS side of LIS being increasingly touted as having more value to neoliberal discourses and consuming the L side whole.”
> “Better integration with future workplaces. Research that directly impacts local libraries.”
> “More online learning, and hopefully, credit given for work experience. I also hope that we can develop a course or testing for foreign trained librarians and technicians so that their experience can be recognized without having to start their education over from scratch.”
> “I think we all need to continually take courses, workshops and network with peers. There is not time to learn everything you need to know and the changes that constantly happen make it imperative to continue updating. We need to be committed to our own life long learning just as we are to our patrons.”
> “Maybe evolving into two streams (practical skills for those who want to be working librarians, and theory for those who want to become library academics); more “mini-courses” (maybe worth 1 credit instead of 3) on very specific topics, like PHP, or managing staff. There could be a series of half-term courses that students can mix and match.”
Project Coordinator, BCLA