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David Lee King

Basic Competencies of a 2.0 Librarian



Update: see my Basic Competencies of a 2.0 Librarian, Take 2 – it’s an expanded list.

Emily, at the Library Revolution blog, posted about minimum tech competencies she thinks librarians should have. Her list is certainly fine – but I share her frustrations when glancing at that list! Those are all very basic skills that some librarians still don’t have, unfortunately.

And so I started to think: what are some competencies a 2.0 librarian should have? I’m refraining from calling them tech competencies, even though they all reside on the computer – I think we need to get away from calling something a tech competency just because it’s done on the computer. Most of these skills are similar to word processing – the skill of writing isn’t a tech competency, even though you most likely use MS Word to do it these days, for example.

So – here’s David’s off-the-cuff Library 2.0 Competencies:

  • write and post to a blog
  • add photos and videos to a blog post
  • embed a widget into blogs and social networking accounts (like Myspace)
  • social network knowledge – basic understanding of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc
  • shoot, upload and edit photos
  • shoot, upload and edit short videos
  • record, edit and upload a podcast
  • use IM in different forms
  • use and explain rss and rss readers to others
  • send and read sms text messages
  • edit an avatar’s appearance
  • basic console gaming skills (multiple formats preferred)

And then, a few bonus skills that go beyond the basics (but are still essential in this new era):

  • understand how everything above can cohesively fit together
  • understand how everything above compliments a physical, traditional library
  • the ability to learn the basics of a new digital service or tool within 15 minutes of fiddling around with it
  • And most importantly – the ability to tell the library’s story, through various media – writing, photography, audio, and video.

What do you think? Would you add or remove anything from this list? I know I’m forgetting some of the non-web library 2.0 things… Let me know!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://distlib.blogs.com/ Paul R. Pival

    David, creating screencasts would seem a basic and useful skill for your list – especially considering the ease of sites like screencast-o-matic.

  • http://distlib.blogs.com Paul R. Pival

    David, creating screencasts would seem a basic and useful skill for your list – especially considering the ease of sites like screencast-o-matic.

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  • http://stevelawson.name/seealso/ Steve Lawson

    Interesting lists. Here are a few off-the-cuff reactions:

    * I think the most important skill is the “figure basic stuff out in 15 minutes” one; IMO, that could replace some of the competencies that seem overly specific, like dressing an avatar or playing console games.

    * Missing from this list is facility with markup or other underlying standards and technologies. I feel strongly that librarians who want to make an impact on the web need to know at least a little bit about (X)HTML, CSS, web standards, etc.

    * as for “understand how everything above can cohesively fit together,” I hear ya, but that’s a lifetime project, not a competency, right?

  • http://stevelawson.name/seealso/ Steve Lawson

    Interesting lists. Here are a few off-the-cuff reactions:

    * I think the most important skill is the “figure basic stuff out in 15 minutes” one; IMO, that could replace some of the competencies that seem overly specific, like dressing an avatar or playing console games.

    * Missing from this list is facility with markup or other underlying standards and technologies. I feel strongly that librarians who want to make an impact on the web need to know at least a little bit about (X)HTML, CSS, web standards, etc.

    * as for “understand how everything above can cohesively fit together,” I hear ya, but that’s a lifetime project, not a competency, right?

  • http://libraryrevolution.com/ Emily

    Great list… a natural extension to what I was getting so frustrated with. And I totally agree that something involving a computer shouldn’t necessarily be called a “Tech competency.” It also shouldn’t necessarily need a four-hour formal workshop for librarians to get motivated to learn it.

  • http://libraryrevolution.com Emily

    Great list… a natural extension to what I was getting so frustrated with. And I totally agree that something involving a computer shouldn’t necessarily be called a “Tech competency.” It also shouldn’t necessarily need a four-hour formal workshop for librarians to get motivated to learn it.

  • http://librarygarden.blogspot.com/ Peter Bromberg

    Great list David. My only comment is this: I think all of the individual skills have to be learned and understood in in the context of “understand how everything above can cohesively fit together.” If librarians learn the interrelationships and governing principles of web 2.0 apps from the beginning, it will also make it much easier for them to pick up the latest app in 15 minutes.

    PS, I learned to play blues harp from “Rock n’ Blues Harmonica” too! -pete

    PPS, nice meeting you at ALA :-)

  • http://librarygarden.blogspot.com Peter Bromberg

    Great list David. My only comment is this: I think all of the individual skills have to be learned and understood in in the context of “understand how everything above can cohesively fit together.” If librarians learn the interrelationships and governing principles of web 2.0 apps from the beginning, it will also make it much easier for them to pick up the latest app in 15 minutes.

    PS, I learned to play blues harp from “Rock n’ Blues Harmonica” too! -pete

    PPS, nice meeting you at ALA :-)

  • http://librariansmatter.com/ Kathryn Greenhill

    Nice list, thanks. I would add:

    Know how to join a social software site – what a captcha is, what to do when you are sent a verification email etc…

    Understanding of Creative Commons licensing.

    Know how to pick up a new device – MP3 player, mobile phone, blackberry etc and be able to work out which buttons are likely to do what.

    Ability to clearly explain to users how to use social software tools – an understanding of adult /teen / child learning principles

    Ability to assess new tools and contextualize them with what is already out there (eg. ah..Pownce is like twitter, but with groupings like on Facebook, except you can control the groupings)

  • http://librariansmatter.com Kathryn Greenhill

    Nice list, thanks. I would add:

    Know how to join a social software site – what a captcha is, what to do when you are sent a verification email etc…

    Understanding of Creative Commons licensing.

    Know how to pick up a new device – MP3 player, mobile phone, blackberry etc and be able to work out which buttons are likely to do what.

    Ability to clearly explain to users how to use social software tools – an understanding of adult /teen / child learning principles

    Ability to assess new tools and contextualize them with what is already out there (eg. ah..Pownce is like twitter, but with groupings like on Facebook, except you can control the groupings)

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com/ K.G. Schneider

    The *application* of the following would not be basic, but I think that *understanding* the following would fit in well (and indeed be essential):

    * Understanding current applications of 2.0 technologies in library automation (e.g. LibraryThing for Libraries, faceted search engines for OPACs, the emerging portals for OPACs, etc.)

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com K.G. Schneider

    The *application* of the following would not be basic, but I think that *understanding* the following would fit in well (and indeed be essential):

    * Understanding current applications of 2.0 technologies in library automation (e.g. LibraryThing for Libraries, faceted search engines for OPACs, the emerging portals for OPACs, etc.)

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  • TSCPL Librarian

    David,
    I find this list very frustrating. What’s the point in knowing these skills, if they can’t be used on library computers? TSCPL doesn’t have photo editing software on their public computers, video software, I only know of two IM services that work on the public computers, you can’t record/edit podcasting, and more importantly half the USB storage devices/flash drives/jump drives that people bring in aren’t compatible with the public computers. So until the library’s computers are capable of supporting the tasks on this list, it’s ridiculous to ask librarians to know how to do these tasks.

    Sorry, but this post really hit me wrong.

  • TSCPL Librarian

    David,
    I find this list very frustrating. What’s the point in knowing these skills, if they can’t be used on library computers? TSCPL doesn’t have photo editing software on their public computers, video software, I only know of two IM services that work on the public computers, you can’t record/edit podcasting, and more importantly half the USB storage devices/flash drives/jump drives that people bring in aren’t compatible with the public computers. So until the library’s computers are capable of supporting the tasks on this list, it’s ridiculous to ask librarians to know how to do these tasks.

    Sorry, but this post really hit me wrong.

  • davidleeking

    TSCPL Librarian – thanks for sharing. I’d suggest that you come chat with me sometime! Because, in my almost 1 year of being at TSCPL, no one has asked for any of this stuff to be on public computers. And (I’m saying this nicely) that’s because of staff like you – instead of asking me for them, you have chosen to anonymously post your frustrations on my blog (which is certainly fine – I always welcome comments).
    So seriously – come talk with me! Tell me what our patrons want to do!
    And the reason for knowing this stuff? Because WE are going to be doing it on our new website. TSCPL plans to produce lots of content FOR our customers.

  • davidleeking

    TSCPL Librarian – thanks for sharing. I’d suggest that you come chat with me sometime! Because, in my almost 1 year of being at TSCPL, no one has asked for any of this stuff to be on public computers. And (I’m saying this nicely) that’s because of staff like you – instead of asking me for them, you have chosen to anonymously post your frustrations on my blog (which is certainly fine – I always welcome comments).

    So seriously – come talk with me! Tell me what our patrons want to do!

    And the reason for knowing this stuff? Because WE are going to be doing it on our new website. TSCPL plans to produce lots of content FOR our customers.

  • davidleeking

    One more thing for the TSCPL Librarian: some of your assumptions are incorrect. You said:

    - “TSCPL doesn’t have photo editing software on their public computers” – we can do this – but you have to teach customers how to use it
    - “video software” – same as above. Are you ready to do that?
    - “I only know of two IM services that work on the public computers” – all IM services have web-based options. Meebo, for example, pretty much covers them all
    - “you can’t record/edit podcasting” – are you ready to train customers? We have initial plans for this
    - “half the USB storage devices/flash drives/jump drives that people bring in aren’t compatible with the public computers” – only the USB drives that use the U3 software (and we’re looking into that).

    “So until the library’s computers are capable of supporting the tasks on this list, it’s ridiculous to ask librarians to know how to do these tasks.”

    Our computers are capable already. Are you? And do you want to learn how to do these things FIRST, or do you want me to put them on the public PCs first, and have you get innundated with questions about video formats, graphic image editing layers, and and audio formats BEFORE you’re ready to answer those questions?

  • davidleeking

    One more thing for the TSCPL Librarian: some of your assumptions are incorrect. You said:

    - “TSCPL doesn’t have photo editing software on their public computers” – we can do this – but you have to teach customers how to use it
    - “video software” – same as above. Are you ready to do that?
    - “I only know of two IM services that work on the public computers” – all IM services have web-based options. Meebo, for example, pretty much covers them all
    - “you can’t record/edit podcasting” – are you ready to train customers? We have initial plans for this
    - “half the USB storage devices/flash drives/jump drives that people bring in aren’t compatible with the public computers” – only the USB drives that use the U3 software (and we’re looking into that).

    “So until the library’s computers are capable of supporting the tasks on this list, it’s ridiculous to ask librarians to know how to do these tasks.”

    Our computers are capable already. Are you? And do you want to learn how to do these things FIRST, or do you want me to put them on the public PCs first, and have you get innundated with questions about video formats, graphic image editing layers, and and audio formats BEFORE you’re ready to answer those questions?

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  • http://maintainitproject.org/ sarah washburn

    nice list! i was happy to see “explain” added to the rss competency. actually using rss is a huge step, and having the ability to describe its benefits and usage is equally important.

  • http://maintainitproject.org/ sarah washburn

    nice list! i was happy to see “explain” added to the rss competency. actually using rss is a huge step, and having the ability to describe its benefits and usage is equally important.

  • Lissa Staley

    Wow! David’s list is long, and the comments expand it quite a bit. I have experimented with most of these things, or been to conference presentations on them, etc. in the past few years. I sometimes have a harder time fitting them into library-land than figuring out how to use them. And I think everyone faces a time crunch of wanting to play with things but running out of time to do so — I love the 15 minute reminder that not everything has to be a 4 hour training workshop!

  • Lissa Staley

    Wow! David’s list is long, and the comments expand it quite a bit. I have experimented with most of these things, or been to conference presentations on them, etc. in the past few years. I sometimes have a harder time fitting them into library-land than figuring out how to use them. And I think everyone faces a time crunch of wanting to play with things but running out of time to do so — I love the 15 minute reminder that not everything has to be a 4 hour training workshop!

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  • Carrie

    David, as a TSCPL librarian (with a lowercase l), I agree with most of your list and have tried many things on your post. What confuses me is that while you strongly feel that these are important, you don’t seem to be teaching them to your own staff. Many Librarians at your own library still have a few steps to go before anyone would consider them 2.0 savy and you have the knowledge to share with them, but those tips and tricks, great websites to use, features to try and more don’t get passed down to us like they should. You know what they say, “with great power comes great responsibility” and I think the same goes for knowledge. So don’t just tell us we need to know these things, try teaching for a while.

  • Carrie

    David, as a TSCPL librarian (with a lowercase l), I agree with most of your list and have tried many things on your post. What confuses me is that while you strongly feel that these are important, you don’t seem to be teaching them to your own staff. Many Librarians at your own library still have a few steps to go before anyone would consider them 2.0 savy and you have the knowledge to share with them, but those tips and tricks, great websites to use, features to try and more don’t get passed down to us like they should. You know what they say, “with great power comes great responsibility” and I think the same goes for knowledge. So don’t just tell us we need to know these things, try teaching for a while.

  • Terry Miller

    For the record, I am not the above “anonymous” librarian, as some of my co-workers have speculated. I have no problem addressing David directly with my concerns, as I have in the past, via in-house e-mail.

    Terry

  • Terry Miller

    For the record, I am not the above “anonymous” librarian, as some of my co-workers have speculated. I have no problem addressing David directly with my concerns, as I have in the past, via in-house e-mail.

    Terry

  • davidleeking

    Carrie – “don’t seem to be teaching” and actually working towards getting our library up-to-speed on these things are two very different things. I’ll email you.

    Terry – you have, and I appreciate it! It’s awesome that I work in such a cool library, and that staff will ask me for things, will call me on things, etc. I see that as part of a healthy organization.

  • davidleeking

    Carrie – “don’t seem to be teaching” and actually working towards getting our library up-to-speed on these things are two very different things. I’ll email you.

    Terry – you have, and I appreciate it! It’s awesome that I work in such a cool library, and that staff will ask me for things, will call me on things, etc. I see that as part of a healthy organization.

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  • Sherry Best

    David has been sharing some of these things with the Management Council. They have been introductory demonstrations, and they have opened our eyes (managers and supervisors) about what’s possible. There are the issues of not being able to download programs, etc. to our own computers, which I think is mainly to prevent us from accidentally downloading viruses, downloading programs that would not work with our system, programs that might interfere with our other programs, or other Bad Things. At this point, I know just enough to be dangerous. I could download something Really Bad without realizing it. But I agree with one of the above comments: I need to have access to the programs, or anything I see demonstrated is going to slip away. And I need step-by-step demos, with lists of steps. I have never been able to “play around with it” and figure it out. I need someone to walk me through what a program can do. Different learning style? Whatever. So, perhaps setting up a system to make the programs and technologies more available? Simplifying the request process for programs added to our computers? And above, David, you say that we’d need to train the public. I don’t know that any of us have the resources to do that yet. But you’re not talking about public training in your original blog post – you’re talking about library competencies. I think, really, that we’d need the programs on our own computers, staff computers, to get familiar with these technologies. Maybe work the new technologies into our staff training? Maybe with Staff Development Day? Maybe ask those librarians who are proficient if they’d give demo classes, or do the screen posts? Once we’re proficient, which I agree we should be, then we’d open up the public computers. Might we also want to look at expanding public training sessions later? I did a blog post – with Lissa’s expert help – she made me look like I actually knew what I was doing! She ROCKS! And I kept my step-by-step list that she made for me, so I feel like I could do it again. Meebo? Great idea. No clue. Other technologies? Sure! But I’ll need training – if nothing else, on “How Not To Break The Equipment.”

  • Sherry Best

    David has been sharing some of these things with the Management Council. They have been introductory demonstrations, and they have opened our eyes (managers and supervisors) about what’s possible. There are the issues of not being able to download programs, etc. to our own computers, which I think is mainly to prevent us from accidentally downloading viruses, downloading programs that would not work with our system, programs that might interfere with our other programs, or other Bad Things. At this point, I know just enough to be dangerous. I could download something Really Bad without realizing it. But I agree with one of the above comments: I need to have access to the programs, or anything I see demonstrated is going to slip away. And I need step-by-step demos, with lists of steps. I have never been able to “play around with it” and figure it out. I need someone to walk me through what a program can do. Different learning style? Whatever. So, perhaps setting up a system to make the programs and technologies more available? Simplifying the request process for programs added to our computers? And above, David, you say that we’d need to train the public. I don’t know that any of us have the resources to do that yet. But you’re not talking about public training in your original blog post – you’re talking about library competencies. I think, really, that we’d need the programs on our own computers, staff computers, to get familiar with these technologies. Maybe work the new technologies into our staff training? Maybe with Staff Development Day? Maybe ask those librarians who are proficient if they’d give demo classes, or do the screen posts? Once we’re proficient, which I agree we should be, then we’d open up the public computers. Might we also want to look at expanding public training sessions later? I did a blog post – with Lissa’s expert help – she made me look like I actually knew what I was doing! She ROCKS! And I kept my step-by-step list that she made for me, so I feel like I could do it again. Meebo? Great idea. No clue. Other technologies? Sure! But I’ll need training – if nothing else, on “How Not To Break The Equipment.”

  • Trish Nixon

    hmmm…i wonder why this blog isn’t linked to the TSCPL staff page. i think it makes sense. I agree with some comments listed although question some of these library 2.0 competencies.

  • Trish Nixon

    hmmm…i wonder why this blog isn’t linked to the TSCPL staff page. i think it makes sense. I agree with some comments listed although question some of these library 2.0 competencies.

  • Robin Clark

    Sherry-

    You mention in your post that “I don’t know that any of us have the resources to do that yet.”

    TSCPL is doing some public computer outreach training, and I hope we do more, building on the success and feedback from the the “Get Wired” program (you may remember the “Unlock the power of your library” graphic that was displayed on the main computers designed by one of the “Get Wired” committee members.

    Kansas Connections, the program part of the TSCPL bookmobile department, last year presented the “Get Wired” program to over 300 USD 501 elementary, middle, and high school special education teachers and staff and at least that many students in several different school districts. “Get Wired” taught participants how to use their library online account (including how to place holds on materials), and introduced some of the harder to find information on our webpage using fun and games.

    As I said, we hope that this program will continue to be a successful teaching tool at TSCPL.

  • Robin Clark

    Sherry-

    You mention in your post that “I don’t know that any of us have the resources to do that yet.”

    TSCPL is doing some public computer outreach training, and I hope we do more, building on the success and feedback from the the “Get Wired” program (you may remember the “Unlock the power of your library” graphic that was displayed on the main computers designed by one of the “Get Wired” committee members.

    Kansas Connections, the program part of the TSCPL bookmobile department, last year presented the “Get Wired” program to over 300 USD 501 elementary, middle, and high school special education teachers and staff and at least that many students in several different school districts. “Get Wired” taught participants how to use their library online account (including how to place holds on materials), and introduced some of the harder to find information on our webpage using fun and games.

    As I said, we hope that this program will continue to be a successful teaching tool at TSCPL.

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  • http://www.technology-blog.com/ Remi

    Thanks for the information.

  • http://www.technology-blog.com/ Remi

    Thanks for the information.

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  • http://umhealthyorgs.wordpress.com/ Deb Nystrom

    Glad to see this post, as well as the dialog. Technical competencies is a bit confusing in that we use technical/function to mean competencies specific to a job, vs. organizational competencies as those that everyone should have connected to organizational values, mission, vision, all that. So with that detail mentioned, I think it is great to see a blog/conversational approach to building a useful list of position specific and current competencies. The blog commentary is especially helpful. Thanks, and I’m citing your blog in my new fledgling blog having to do with building healthy organizations. A good part of that is open conversations and giving and managing feedback in skilled ways.