by Nicola Franklin, Europe Chapter, Business & Finance Division
When I was asked to contribute to this series of posts on how the library & information employment scene is changing, which positions or skills are disappearing and which new ones we need to prepare for, I asked on Twitter for any input and ideas people had. There were surprisingly few skills or roles people thought were becoming obsolete – it was much more about new skills being added onto already existing ones!
Even skills which might be thought of as ‘old fashioned’ or no longer needed were defended. One tweet in reply said “I think cataloguing – data librarianship and records cataloguing – is making a big comeback”.
Another good point that was made was ‘library/info skills are about people, not tech, why should they become obsolete?’. This highlights the fact that, while the media might be books, journals, databases or online, the key goal of information people is how to ensure the content of that media is available to people when they need it. Hence the need for such a wide spectrum of skills from cataloguing (taxonomy, metadata… insert other acronym of choice!) to influencing and advocating.
If the spectrum of media in which information is available ever swings 100% away from hard-copy books or journals, then maybe some skills will disappear (shelving, for example), but other skills will morph and change to suit changing technologies – so collection management will switch from a physical collection to a digital one. The skills of liaising with users, analysing needs and selecting expensive materials to fit a particular budget will remain, however. Instead of a physical display, there may be promotion of resources on an intranet or other communication system not yet envisaged.
With such a varied skill set being called for, I think it is always going to be the case that information teams will be needed, with some members who are meticulous, organised and methodical while others are more outgoing, persuasive and articulate, or more adept at developing or customising technology. The true skill will lie in co-ordinating all these varied roles within one cohesive profession.
Nicola has worked with the information profession as a recruitment consultant for just over thirteen years, working at Information Business Services, PFJ and Sue Hill Recruitment in London, UK. At Fabric Recruitment Nicola leads the Information division, helping librarians, knowledge managers and records managers find that next best step in their career, and promotes all things social media to the team.