in the higher education community and you have a perfect storm for
confusion and lack of consensus about what the future research library
workforce should or will look like.
Paraphrasing from the aforementioned Herman Miller report:
“The diversity of ethnicities, experiences, ages, income, … and
expectations of [researchers] create opportunities for libraries to
be equally diverse in their management of spaces, delivery of
services, [and composition of personnel.]”2
Therefore, the research library of today must task itself with developing
a workforce with the skills and competencies to further the mission of the
institution, whether serving an academic community or public constituency.
The library must develop this vital workforce in anticipation of evolving
research practice of users in traditional and emerging domains of scholarly
inquiry, rapidly changing behavior in seeking and evaluating information, and
the growing diversity inherent in the learning communities they serve. These
changing needs create a new imperative for recruiting and retaining a research
library workforce that will be effective in this dynamic research environment.
Moreover, the research library workforce of the future will have to be adept at
creating and fostering collaborations with entities within and outside of their
institutions due to sustained budgetary pressures and in order to signal to
higher level administration that libraries can remain relevant in the age of
Google, Wikipedia, and Flickr.
What are then, some of the considerations in this new imperative?
What are the skill sets that will be needed to ensure that 21st-century libraries
begin to or continue to evolve and properly support the needs of 21st-century
researchers? How do libraries frame conversations on this topic during a time
of continued economic volatility and stresses to provide more and better
with less and fewer? Offered here are several suggestions for this new
imperative, suggestions for establishing some priorities for recruitment,
and brief commentary on the broad implications for research-intensive
Developing a Vital Research Library Workforce
C O N T I N U E D
OCTOBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC