Job descriptions of government librarians in Pakistan.

Author:Qutab, Saima


Libraries all over the world are facing diversified service challenges posed by a mix of traditional information seekers and Google generation's call of technology features. These multi-facet demands and kinds of users' community have increased the list of responsibilities and skills required by the librarians. Selection of right person for the right job is the greatest challenge for library administration. This includes two main elements; nature of job descriptions defined or advertised by the administration and the availability of required human resources in the market. Only the right mix of these two essentials can ensure the selection of appropriate personnel for the delivery of high quality services to the diversified user community (Kennan, Willard and Wilson, 2006). Over years our profession is highly changed with invent of technologies and in result transforming life styles. Starr (2004) said that from the perspective of human history, a twenty-year period is a brief moment but in the context of our rapid electronic age, however, twenty years are enough for three or four technological lifetimes. Mathews and Pardue (2009) said that clearly the acquisition of the skills required to access, store, manage, and disseminate media in libraries is yet another example from the long history of librarians adapting to and adopting new technologies. The advancement of computer technology and the changing role of the libraries are clear to everyone (Farajpahlou and Danesh, 2009). Technology altered or replaced almost everything about libraries; manual catalogues with bibliographic databases; paper with digital; ready reference books with Google; library newsletters with social media and so on. On the other hand some things remain the same and required traditional skills of librarianship along with advance works. The library automation and IT have initiated three major changes in cataloguing i.e. MARC, microcomputers and CD ROM databases and emerging technologies of internet during last four decades and collectively all these changes effect the cataloguers' job requirements and roles of librarians as many primary responsibilities have been shifted to paraprofessional staff due to overall change in library operations (Heinrichs and Lim, 2009; Khurshid, 2003; Hosoi, 2000). Gerolimos and Konsta (2008) said that the appearance of the internet and the World Wide Web, as a final stage of an evolution has created a new information and social environment. This change has been both in the work undertaken and in the conditions under which people are employed (Kennan, Willard and Wilson, 2006). Librarians have adapted to fit new and expanded roles in this environment. This increasing speed and breadth of technological change sometimes require new responsibilities replacing old, but often additional tasks are added while traditional jobs remain the same (Meier, 2010; Kennan, Cole, and et al, 2006). This change issue has led to a considerable research and discussion concerning the form, the role, the position and the functions of the social institutions known as "libraries" within this new context (Gerolimos and Konsta, 2008).

Literature Review

Many information databases such as Elsevier, Science Direct, Emerald, Doaj, search engines such as Google and indexing service LISTA were searched for the literature review. Review of the literature shows that the library analysis of job advertisement and changing nature of work have been an area of interest for researchers, practitioners, educators and students. It is important to learn assimilation and influence of IT into all aspects of librarianship and how the new technologies may be influencing change and job market (Lynch and Smith, 2001).

Reeves and Hahn (2010) stated that job advertisement analyses have peppered the LIS research and professional literature since at least the 1980s. Alonso-Regalado & Ullen (2009) highlighted the importance of the job announcements analysis and considered it as essential information about the evolution of the positions over time, the nature of the job market, and predictions of employment trends. He also added that findings from such studies are also useful to library students' guidance for pursuing in specific careers within librarianship as well as for library school faculty for curriculum up gradation. Analysis of requirement in job advertisements has often been used to examine and predict the trends in market; demand for professionals; changes in a profession and employment conditions (Wu and Li, 2008; Lynch and Smith; 2001; Cullen, 2000). Kennan, Willard and Wilson (2006) witnessed changes in IT and information delivery substantial change in job markets and LIS education in response of these changes. Cullen (2004) beautifully stated that to find demands of changing information world, a good way is to start from the investigation of job advertisements because they "bluntly state necessary and desired employer requirements from candidates. Recruitment advertising is how the employment market communicates its needs to individuals seeking to engage with it". The job titles appearing in job ads varies over span of time from traditional to emerging titles also define the nature of the job responsibilities required against them and illustrates there complexity (Khurshid 2003; Croneis and Henderson, 2002). Ads provide a rich source of data about the profession and the knowledge, skills and competencies wanted by employers. The ads also indicate aspects of LIS as a profession, as it determines the jurisdiction of its expertise, and the nature of its relationships with certain outside bodies (Kennan, Willard and Wilson, 2006).

It is evident from different studies that the requirements by hiring authorities changes over time with changes in technology. The nature, magnitude, and swiftness of changes in the profession because of technology increases the demand of knowledge and skills related to electronic resource management (Park, Lu and Marion, 2009; Croneis and Henderson, 2002). Mathews and Pardue (2009) found subjective evidences of acquiring a wider range of IT skills by librarians as well as these IT skills are becoming driving force in library job market. According to Wu and Li (2008), a well-studied factor was subject background or expertise. Technology-related characteristics i.e. library automation and computer-based services; training and experience in online bibliographical searching; internet-related skills and communication skills were most prominent appearing requirements for librarian jobs. The librarians have not only to manage media itself, but also to acquire, develop, deploy, use, and maintain the suite of information technologies and systems that support them. The development of a digital collection or an institutional repository requires the traditional skills of collection development as well as new skills of server setup and maintenance (Mathews and Pardue, 2009; Kousha and Abdoli, 2008). Reeves and Hahn (2010) explored that employers are seeking to hire individuals who not only have certain skills and experience, but also certain personal attributes such as excellent communication abilities, service orientation, a predilection for collaboration and cooperation, a penchant for participating in teams, and social and personal competence traits that reflect on an applicant's ability to adapt to change, meet deadlines, innovate, and take...

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