Developing a Vital Research Library Workforce Mark A. Puente, Director of Diversity Programs, ARL I n a recent report entitled “The Once and Future Library,” based on a study commissioned by the Herman Miller corporation, researchers present a view of the future academic library that includes dramatic transformations of roles librarians will be playing in the future—from the “keepers of the flammable inventory” to the role of knowledge navigator, presiding over spaces and services that are increasingly collaborative, complex, and dynamic.1 The full impact of the recent economic downturn will not be fully understood for some time, however, it is clear that it has accelerated the assessment of workflows, personnel structures, acquisitions priorities, and every other facet of the workings of research libraries today. Anecdotal evidence tells us that libraries and information centers are reorganizing, outsourcing, consolidating service points, weeding collections, and making any other adjustments necessary to telegraph the flexibility of the organization and the willingness to implement new strategies for provision of services relevant to the modern research enterprise. What remain to be seen are the long-term implications for the research library workforce in terms of the staffing needs and anticipated competencies for library and information professionals of the future. These competencies include subject-domain expertise and functional and/or sociopolitical acumen that will be needed as organizations continue to evolve in response to continued economic pressures, changing pedagogical strategies, and rapid evolutions in the way researchers today search for, consume, and, in some instances, create knowledge. In a broader social context, complexity increases when dealing with the question of best practices for creating services that are best suited for researchers who are “next-gen,” “digital natives,” or other appropriate synonyms. Throw in the added layer of shifting demographics RLI 272 1 OCTOBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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