Friday, September 3, 2010

What it takes to be a librarian in the 21st century

If you want to watch a video to find out about librarians in the 21st century then follow the link below.

Emily Rushing -- Pirates v. Ninjas; Librarianship in the 21st Century

So, what specific skills do you think librarians in the 21st century have? Information finding skills? Cataloguing skills? Yes, these are important but I bet many people would not think about customer service skills to help library patrons or the computer skills needed to navigate databases, catalogues and websites. Librarians need to be able to embrace change. Patron populations are changing all the time and so is the technology that fuels this digital age. Librarians need to keep changing with the times in order to be able to best serve their patrons and been able to maintain an up-to-date library and library collections.

“The library is not just a place to get stuff, it is a place to make and share stuff” - Joyce Kasman Valenza

Skills in technology are vital. Librarians need to be able to feel comfortable using computers and internet based programs. Catalogues, databases, search engines, email, blogs and websites are all used to maintain the library catalogue, help find information and interact with patron online. Online resources are needed and librarians are often the first person patrons talk to. Being able to troubleshoot technological problems is important as a repair man can’t always be called due to money or time issues. It is often easier for librarians to try and fix it themselves so knowing basics about computers, printers and photocopy machines is often necessary.

"Fortunately, a small segment of our population, librarians, has been dealing with the problem of information organization since 2000 B.C. Who better to turn to in our time of need than people with thousands of years of accumulated expertise and experience?" –Eugene Eric Kim

Being able to keep up with the changing world of librarianship is useful. Information is always changing. New ways to find information and use it are happening all the time. It is the responsibility of every librarian to keep up with new programs for the library computers or catalogue and what books are popular so they are ready to help when someone comes into the library and asks questions. It is all about being prepared.

“To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one” — Anonymous, Chinese saying

It takes a good librarian to keep up to date with what is popular and what can help patrons. The library website is often used a lot to look at the catalogue. The website can be more than that if librarians have the initiative to use blogs, slide shows, email and events link on the website to keep patrons interested and up-to-date on what’s happening in the library. In this way they keep patrons aware of what is happening and it may be even draw them back to the library after a long absence.

“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life” — Henry Ward Beecher

Librarians being trained today are being taught a variety of tools – how/ where to find resources, how to use / manipulate catalogues, customer service / reference questioning and technology usage. Many librarians and library technicians are expected to have some sort of formal qualification so they will already know the information that will help them in the many roles of their job. An example is Swinburne University of Technology.


I didn’t see any books about librarians in the 21st century so I mainly focused my search for information on the internet only to find there were a limited number of useful sites to use. That is why my post is shorter this week. I did enjoy using a few different mediums this week for my blog. While I have used websites and a YouTube video before, I liked that I incorporated a wiki and a blog into my blog this week. I was going to also talk about whether libraries were still quiet and peaceful places to go visit but decided to just talk about ‘librarians in the 21st century’ as it is more closely related to my overall topic than libraries being quiet and peaceful.



Diploma of Library/Information Services 2010, Swinburne University of Technology, viewed 3 September 2010,

Kneale, Ruth. A 2002, You don’t look like a librarian, viewed 3 September 2010,

Quotations about libraries and librarians 2006, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutes, viewed 3 September 2010,


Farkas, Meredith 2006, ‘Skills for the 21st century librarian’, Information want to be free, 17 July, viewed 3 September 2010,


‘You know you’re a 2st century librarian if...’ 2010, Wikispaces, viewed 3 September 2010,'re+a+21st+century+librarian+if+.+.+.


IgniteDallas 2010, Emily Rushing – pirates v. Ninjas; librarianship in the 21st century, 6 July, viewed 3 September 2010,

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Different types of library jobs

Special library

There are a number of specialised libraries in which librarians can work. Medical and law libraries are examples of libraries that specialise in one field or subject and cater to their own organisation. The Bureau of Meteorology has its own National Meteorological Library where a number of library professionals work. They have to look after a specialised collection of journals, reports and books related to meteorology and related sciences. Most of their collection was published in the 20th century but, with that said, they do house some historical documents in a special room set up to protect them from the hot and cold extremes of weather and humidity. The library has been functioning since 1908 when the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology was created.

A medical librarian organises, shelves and helps people find information. In that way they are a lot like traditional librarians. Because of the often sensitive nature of the material housed in the library, the library is often closed to the public. The librarians must spend much of their time reading journals and books to keep up-to-date on the most recent updates in the medical field which could help the users of the library. Hospitals like The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne cater to staff and students on placements. The librarians of the hospital manage the journals, books, audio/visual and newspapers in their collection. The services they provide to their patrons include loans, reserves, interlibrary loans, access to databases and photocopying.

Court systems, private law firms, government libraries, corporate law departments and law schools are the settings for law librarians. These law librarians are looked upon to provide a large number of materials in the form of legal books, periodicals, documents and databases. They catalogue the collection. They also decide what materials to add to the collection and what materials to weed. Academic law librarians may also work with professors to form the content to be taught to students and teach the students where to find information.

“Librarians can find you an answer to almost any question. Just ask.” - Susan

Home and mobile library

In Australia there are over five thousand libraries with about seventy two being libraries on wheels.

A mobile library allows a library to be portable and cover a wider area then other libraries that stay in the one place. Often using a van or truck, these libraries travel around letting people, who might not be able to access any other library, use the library. Often, mobile libraries work in outer suburbs and country towns. The librarian help patrons find what they are looking for and also help with borrowing and returning items.

There are some people in the community who can’t get to a library for a number of reasons. Elderly and disabled people can often benefit from a home library service. The library volunteer takes a selection of books and visits these people so they can choose the books they want to read. In a few weeks the volunteer comes back again to collect the books and the people can borrow again.

“I would feel lost without the home library visits. I can’t wait to chat to the volunteers and see what books they’ve brought with them” – Peter, a home library borrower

In America “librarians held about 159,900 jobs in 2008. About 59 per cent were employed by public and private educational institutions and 27 per cent were employed by local government.” – Bureau of Labor Statistics

Public library

The public library librarian can have a multitude of different materials they have to look after. Books, e-books, audio books, CD’s, DVD’s, video games, toys, newspapers and magazines are all found in many public libraries. These librarians also often looked upon to provide and host events in the library. These may include children’s story and activity sessions, school holiday activities, workshops, classes, discussion groups like book clubs, author visits and performances. The responsibility of keeping the electronic resources, like the computers, printers and photocopiers, working can often fall to the librarian. Another front of house job for librarians is customer service and presentation of the library. They have to make sure the library is kept tidy so people can find what they want and don’t trip over things laying around. Often the librarian is the first port of call for patrons when they come to the library. Helping patrons find the information and material they want is important to insure that they keep coming back and using the library. With all these things, you would think that the librarians would be kept pretty busy – well, they do stay busy but don’t forget they also have work behind the scenes in rooms where the public don’t go. Cataloguing, repairing neglected books and preparing new stock for the shelves all happens behind the scenes at the library.

“All the people working in a public library help each other. If there are lots of items to shelve, someone lends a hand. If there’s a queue at the service desk, one of us will help” – Barbara, Branch Manager

Academic library

Students, researchers and teachers all benefit from academic librarians who provide support. They can be responsible for specific subject areas or a function like resource ordering, loans or special collections. Academic librarians also liaison with teachers and lecturers to help provide appropriate resources for the students and teaching material. Database management and web page development plays an ever increasing role in the librarians electronic resources work in an academic library. To be an academic librarian, you may find it has more to do with being a very people focused job and less to do with reading books. Managing and developing the collection, managing the building and equipment, managing staff and budgets, contributing to academic course development, assisting researchers with literature searches and dealing with patron enquiries all play a part of being an academic librarian.

“Librarians are professional researcher. We may not know the answer, but we know how to find the answer” - Susan

Children’s/School library – both primary and secondary school

A children’s librarian is responsible for making the library an interesting and fun place to be for children. They organise school holiday programs, story time, reading clubs and different activities like Book Week. Children’s librarian also helps children find books or information that they may want. Their question or statement for the librarian may be as simple as ‘I need information about colonial musical instruments” or be as difficult as asking for books about NATO. If the juvenile section of the library has no books on this subject and most online resources are over the young child’s head, it can be very difficult to find any material suitable for his age group.

The Building the Education Revolution scheme has been giving out grants to help build new libraries. An example is the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception School, a primary school in Melbourne, who received a $2.5 million grant to build their new two-storey library building that is about five times the size of the library it replaced. With learning spaces, auditorium, computers and technology all housed in the new library, the school now has what it needs to make sure children get the proper resources to learn. School libraries help support what is being taught in the classrooms and encourage independent learning and reading.

“I want people to be excited about coming to the library. I like them to know that the library is a place for fun, for reading and for learning” – Lynne, Community Liaison


I liked researching this blog. I used my local library’s catalogue and found three books on librarians. Although one book was for children I still used it as it provided me with a picture and a small amount of information. I wrote about special libraries. For that I thought it was best to go straight to their websites like the Bureau of Meteorology library and The Royal Children’s Hospital library. I wanted to get the information directly from them so I thought their websites would be the most relevant and up-to-date method of finding out the information. I also used a few other websites that I found using Google.



Careers in focus: Library and information science 2006, Infobase Publishing, New York

Pilinis, Denise 2010, Librarian, behind the news topics series, Pearson Rigby, Port Melbourne Vic.

Ruurs, Margriet 2005, My librarian is a camel: how books are brought to children around the world, Boyds Mills Press, Pennsylvania


Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-11 Edition: Librarians, viewed 28 August 2010,

Ferarri, Justine 2010, Library that lets kids know they matter, The Australian, viewed 28 August 2010,

Gatt, Cathy 2010, About the library, The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, viewed 28 August 2010,

Kay, June 2009, Academic librarian: job description and activities, Durham University, viewed 28 August 2010,

National Meteorological Library 2010, Bureau of Meteorology, viewed 28 August,

What do librarians do all day? 2010, PBS parents, viewed 28 August 2010,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Librarians of today – what skills are required for the job

“Librarians need a wide range of skills and that being a team player contributes to one's success as a librarian.” – Noelene Proud

What librarians do all day can be quite different to what people think they would do.

 What does a librarian do - YouTube video

When these students in the YouTube video were asked what they thought librarians do the majority stated that they just shelved books and scanned books in and out. Sure, librarians do their share of these jobs but there is more. Different types of libraries require different levels of skills and knowledge but there are some basics. Customer service skills, knowledge of the catalogue that the library uses, basic understanding of how to properly shelve books and knowledge on the maintenance of the catalogue (ordering and cataloguing material) are fundamental in the successful running of a library. The three basic services that librarians are involved in include administrative services, technical services and user services. While administrative services is the ‘management and planning of the informative material available’ and the technical services make sure the catalogue is maintained and library computers are working, the user services are basically keeping the library clients happy – helping them with queries and questions about information or how to find something. Customer service is even important in a library. As part of the user services, research for library clients is vital. Patrons will often go up to staff at a library and ask about something. It is the librarians job to either know the answer or know how to find the information.

“Librarians are professional researchers. We may not know the answer, but we know how to find the answer” - Susan

Many of the librarian jobs require qualifications and experience. Universities and Tafe’s provide a limited number of courses that teach students the fundamentals of the job. For example, Swinburne University of Technology – Tafe section, offers certificate 3, 4 and diploma in library and information services. The diploma allows the graduates to work in a range of libraries like academic, school, public and specialist but it isn’t just limited to libraries as bookshops, library supply agencies and software suppliers are covered under their ‘employment outcomes’. Their diploma covers basic skills and services required in becoming a librarian. Some of the subjects covered include cataloguing, research, preservation, digital archiving, collection management and even an industry placement to work up practical experience before going into the workforce. There are general, transferable skills that anyone can have – customer service skills, technology knowledge – but training is preferred as knowledge about cataloguing, databases and collection management is something that needs to be taught. While you become a library technician when you graduate from Swinburne, other universities like RMIT offer degrees in ‘information and knowledge management’ which allows you to become an information specialist when graduation comes around. You also become eligible to become a member of ALIA – Australian Library & Information Association.

“The basic job of a librarian is to maintain all the informative sources available in the library” – Mayuri Kulkarni

In 2006 America had approximately 167,000 librarians employed in about 117,950 libraries. Like other professions, librarians can become a member of their own organisation. Australia has ALIA which stands for Australian Library and Information Association. It is the ‘professional organisation for the Australian library and information services sector’. It has its own website that covers jobs, events, news, they publish their own material (Eg. Journals, monographs and newsletters) and they also outline the courses and qualifications approved by them for library and information services. They also provide conferences for people to participate in. But not all is so optimistic about being a librarian. The American Library Association (ALA) predicts that libraries will have fewer librarians and will need to be replaced by volunteers, part time employees and support staff because they think 1 in 4 librarians are expected to retire within the next 5 to 7 years. Also, now that some library tasks are being performed by computers (Eg. Store and retrieve information) there is a greater focus on computer skills. Though computers have helped librarians in a lot of what they do, you can be sure that personal judgement and knowledge will still be important.

“Fulfilment in a library profession comes through matching people with the information they need, and when they need it. There is particular satisfaction in finding obscure information through the wise and informed use of information tools and technology.” – Get Access

Gone are the days of librarians sitting behind the desk all day ‘ssshhhhhing’ people. Now, librarians do multiple tasks every day. They can change from reference desk work, circulation desk work, cataloguing work, material maintenance work (shelving, preparing new books etc) and technological work (library website maintenance/creation, fixing computers and printers etc). In Western Australia there are just over 3,000 people in the library and information field with 80% being female. As library professionals patrons expect them to be able to help them when they come to the library. It is their job to ‘assist in the delivery of information to users’. While librarians take on more of a management and supervisory position, library technicians provide the everyday operational and technical support to their facilities with the help of library assistants who are there to ‘provide administrative and clerical support to librarians and technicians’.


I had trouble finding information about librarian jobs from years ago. Apart from the obvious technology changes, I couldn’t compare and contrast very much so I had to change the topic from ‘how librarian’s jobs have changed’ to ‘librarians of today – what skills are required for the job’. Most of my focus for the research was online as I thought I would get more, up-to-date material.



teachertubeES, What does a librarian do, 23 October 2009, viewed 20 August 2010,

ALIA 2010, All about ALIA, Australian Library and Information Association, viewed 20 August 2010,

BP140 – Bachelor of Business (Information and Knowledge Management) 2010, RMIT University, viewed 21 August 2010,;ID=EPSBP140P04IKAUSCY;STATUS=A?QRY=bachelor%20of%20business%20(information%20and%20knowledge%20management)%20program%20structure&STYPE=ENTIRE

Diploma of Library / Information Services, Swinburne University of Technology, viewed 20 August 2010,

Kulkarni, Mayuri 2010, Librarian Job Description,, viewed 20 August 2010,

Librarian, getaccess, viewed 20 August 2010,

Susan 2010, What do librarians do all day?, PBS, viewed 20 August 2010,

Agnos, Damon 2009, The librarians will decide if you’re mature enough to view that, Seattle Weekly, 22 June, viewed 20 August 2010,

Careers in focus: library & information science 2006, Infobase Publishing, USA

Friday, August 20, 2010

Research Brief

My topic is about librarians. More specifically it is about how librarians have changed and what stereotypes have associated themselves with the librarian profession

Librarians of past and present
What has changed for librarians, if anything?
What are the stereotypes of librarians?

The main areas and ideas that the project will cover are:
How have librarians work changed? – from working behind a desk to being an online, virtual librarian. What are the different types of working environments for librarians?
What are the stereotypes of librarians?
How did librarians get their stereotype? Was it from people observing the way they acted while shelving books or was the stereotype exaggerated by media? Do people still hold these stereotypes?
What do librarians think about their stereotype and do they do anything about changing it?