Snart är det dags för Biblioteksdagarna 2019 i Helsingborg. Det kommer bli två intensiva dagar med temat kompetens. Vi är stolta att presentera Dr. Sandra Hirsh som en av våra huvudtalare. Hon är bibliotekarie, professor och chef för School of Information vid San Jose State University.

Hon har också arbetat med UX i Silicon Valley och har haft flera uppdrag inom IFLA och ALA. Hennes forskning handlar bland annat om användarbeteende och informationssökning i relation till teknik.
Under seminariet Competencies for Librarians in a Technologically Driven Global Climate kommer Dr. Hirsh att prata om de kompetenser som behövs för dagens bibliotekarier i ett tekniskt drivet globalt klimat. Hon kommer även prata om hur amerikanska skolor för bibliotek och informationsvetenskap (LIS) inte bara förbereder morgondagens LIS-ledare utan också tillhandahåller program och möjligheter till professionell utveckling som stöder dessa yrkesverksamma under hela deras yrken.

Vi har fått möjligheten att ställa några frågor till henne om hennes kommande seminarium.

Tell us about your background and career to date.
In some ways, I grew up in the field of library and information science since my mom Gail Schlachter was a well-known librarian. After graduating with an undergraduate degree in political science/international relations, I decided to pursue my Masters degree in library and information science from the University of Michigan and then my PhD from the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA). I initially started my career as a professor at the University of Arizona’s library school. I loved educating the next generation of librarians, but ended up moving to the Silicon Valley where I worked in industry for 12 years, applying my library and information science skill sets to research and development (R&D) at HP Labs and to user experience research and management in designing consumer products at Microsoft and LinkedIn. While working in industry, I also served on the International Advisory Board for what was then called the School of Library and Information Science at San José State University (SJSU). When I heard that the director was retiring, I jumped at the chance to go back into academia and applied for the School’s director position. I have now served as the Director of the SJSU School of Information for nearly nine years and love it.

What changes have you seen in the information profession during the course of your career?
There have been huge changes in the information profession during the course of my career – including the growth of digital content, the birth of the internet, the proliferation of mobile devices, and so much more. New technologies are constantly being introduced that will have big implications for the information profession, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and blockchain. These developments have necessitated changes in how information professionals do their work. For example, there has been a move from focusing just on physical materials and spaces to a greater reliance on digital resources and virtual spaces and interactions. Librarians have also shifted from serving primarily as intermediaries between the user and information to librarians working more as partners, instructors, and problem solvers. Furthermore, while librarians once only provided access to curated content, they now also manage user-generated (and user-created) content. Traditional roles for librarians such as reference librarians, catalogers, and collection development librarians are now defined differently and provide different services than they did decades before. For example, reference librarians often no longer sit waiting for users behind a reference desk surrounded by physical reference resources; they now roam around to help users wherever they are in the library. And there are many new types of roles in libraries that did not previously exist, such as User Experience Librarian, Linked Data Strategist, Informatics/Data Services Specialist, and Innovations Librarian.

Why do you think the LIS field increasingly focuses on competencies?
The LIS field has become highly competency-based because employers are less concerned about the grades achieved by a LIS graduate but more focused on the practical knowledge and technical and behavioral skills of the graduate and, most importantly, the ability of the graduate to immediately transfer those skills into the diverse and technologically engaged library work environment. This places responsibility on the LIS programs to make sure that their graduates are professionally relevant and aligned to learning outcomes that directly correlate to what today’s employers expect. There are many strategies LIS schools can adopt to ensure they do this – such as watching technological, social, and economic trends, surveying job postings, and reviewing employer surveys. I also highly recommend that all LIS programs have Program Advisory committees largely composed of practitioners that can give input into the curriculum.

What do you see as the fundamental competencies in our field?  Now and for the future?
Today’s information professionals need to have a range of competencies. For example, graduates of the SJSU School of Information must demonstrate 14 professional competencies in order to graduate with their MLIS. They not only need to be knowledgeable about the field, but also need to have excellent communication skills, be proactive, demonstrate leadership qualities, possess strong technological skills, be continuous learners, have a user-centered mindset – and so much more. Here is a list of the fundamental competencies that I think today’s information professionals need to possess:

  • Soft skills, such as critical thinking, independence, time management, multitasking, collaboration, and professional networking;
  • Communication and outreach strategies, such as advocacy, communication skills, marketing, and presentation skills;
  • Leadership and management capacities, such as budgeting, change management, crisis management, leadership, project management, and strategic planning;
  • A user-centered mindset, such as customer service, user experience, and diversity, equity, and inclusion;
  • Technological skills and expertise, such as data analysis, data visualization, and digital asset management.
  • Ability to foster learning communities, such as creation culture, maker spaces, and adaptive learning spaces;
  • Knowledge of information issues, such as Information ethics, policy, privacy, security, and open access; and
  • Design thinking, such as the ability to identify problems and create innovative and user-centered solutions

In addition, the ability to track and implement emerging technologies that have the potential to impact the information experience – such as chatbots, machine learning, artificial Intelligence, and applications of blockchain technology – has become an essential competency of information professionals for leading their organizations towards the changing interests, desired experiences, and expanded learning behaviors of the communities they serve.

How can information professionals continue to meet the needs of their diverse and technologically engaged communities?
Lifelong learning and professional development are the keys to our very survival as information professionals. We consistently need to self-assess, to welcome performance evaluations, and to watch for changes in the world around us that may impact the relevance of our profession.
We should have an arsenal of personal learning strategies such as post-graduate certificate programs, graduate level courses that are open to anyone needing to develop a new skill or competency, webinars, professional conferences, professional learning and global networks, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Information professionals must be ready to adapt to changing roles and to learn new skills and new tools quickly. As a result, LIS schools must also remain adaptive and do more than just offer courses on the latest topics and technologies; they need to offer a menu of options that supports the librarian’s competency and professional development needs throughout their career.

What are LIS schools doing to remain forward-thinking and to meet the needs of the profession?
LIS schools are focusing on identifying and understanding the trends on the horizon and their impact on the profession, narrowing the distance between theoretical knowledge and current practice, and using a variety of delivery models for their curricula.   Recruiting students from diverse communities (racially, ethnically, linguistically) is also a big focus for LIS programs so that America’s librarians reflect America’s population. 

How do LIS competencies prepare graduates for non-library focused careers? Can you provide some examples?
Competency-based LIS education focuses on skills – not environments. Graduates may end up working for private corporations (such as database vendors and publishers), consulting firms, the government, and/or nonprofit organizations at some point in their careers. My own career demonstrates this as I utilized my LIS skills as a R&D and user experience professional for technology companies such as Microsoft and LinkedIn. Other examples of graduates who have come out of the SJSU program and now work in non-library settings include a Knowledge Infrastructure Manager who works at Rocket Fuel (an advertising technology company), a Museum curator for the 49ers (an American football team), and a Digital Asset Librarian at Instacart (an online grocery company).

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