Status of technological competencies: a case study of University librarians.

Author:Batool, Sveda Hina
Position:Case study


Social institutions are run by the people for the people comprising a society. They reflect the pace of change in a society, and evolve accordingly. Technological developments have brought enormous changes in fabrication of all kinds of societies. Biological science curriculum centre (2005) defined technology as "A body of knowledge used to create tools, develop skills, and extract or collect materials; the application of science (the combination of the scientific method and material) to meet an objective or solve a problem".

Emergence of modern, high-tech, information society, changing mode of information carriers, and demand from print to digital resources have grossly affected libraries and Information centers. Now a day's libraries are not defined merely by their physical features, collections and automation, but from the services they offer. For facilitating digital age's demanding clients, libraries must be equipped with the desired technology and human expertise.

According to APLEN (2008) technological core competencies for library professionals are defined "as a combination of skills, knowledge and behaviors related to library technology and are important for organizational success, personal performance and career building". Chan (2005) describes how those with technological competencies,

enjoy learning and applying new technologies, analytical, familiar with concepts of computer use, able to transfer knowledge, pursues and demonstrate expertise in technology and can apply it as requires, internet and library system applications, can resolve routine problems without assistance and learn to use new technology quickly and adapts. The fast growing technology makes academic libraries to face extra challenges in supporting academic and research programs, if they do not want to be perceived as warehouses for books. To meet the demands of an information society, libraries should be furnished with advanced technological tools while librarians should advance their skills accordingly. Crawford (2006) expressed the concern as follows: "Do they know how to connect their mission to their community? Do academic libraries understand their function? Academic libraries need to figure out answers to these questions to survive." Human resources at any institution are very important to meet the goals of any organization. Information has become fast growing commodity and its easy and economical access is in demand. In this scenario libraries can be effective only if fully equipped with information communication technologies (ICTs). Literature establishes that a number of studies have been conducted to explore needed competencies of librarians to meet the challenges of digital age. For example, Babu and Gopalakrishna (2007) highlighted that development of ICT affects the profession of LIS at a large scale in terms of growing material, equipment, space, staff, readers etc.

Tyson (2007) stressed that with shaping of libraries, library staff should also be transformed to serve the present generation who need information anytime, anywhere. The skills of librarians should link to the technological infrastructure. He pointed out during late 90s the position of system librarian was created in libraries. It was as confusing then as it is today that whether this position should takeover by traditional librarian or by a technical expert. It was suggested by Tyson that skills audit of librarians can be a solution to address 21st century library issues. Now IT infrastructure is as necessary as electricity.

Literature reports two types of studies as follows: (i) measuring librarian's professional technological skills (ii) identifying librarians' needed IT and other competencies. Choi and Rasmussen (2006) conducted a study to identify the knowledge and skills required by current practitioners in US libraries. Findings show that 35% of respondents job responsibility based on website related activities, 26% based on digital project initiatives, 21.7% related to maintain technical standards and practices and only 17.3% related to other activities. These results illustrate the importance of acquiring technological expertise to survive in this information society.

In 2009, Mathews and Pardue conducted a content-analysis of randomly selected job ads from ALA online job list over a period of Oct. 2007-Mar. 2008. This study stressed on the substantial need for web development, project management, system development and system applications in the job requirements for librarians. This study suggests that librarians need a compulsory set of technological expertise. They mentioned the following necessary IT skills:

* Programming languages

* Networking

* Web development

* Project management

* System development

* System application

Similarly in Canada, Alberta Public Library Electronic Network (2008) designed a template to self check the core technology competencies of their library staff. With the use of this template the needed level of training can be analyzed for public library staff.

Prestamo (2001) proposed a comprehensive inventory of computer and related technological skills for academic reference librarians by using Delphi research method. She mentioned 285 important ICT skills to learn necessarily for academic librarians. Garrod (1998) reported that only those personnel required IT skills that had basic...

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