Knowledge and skills of librarians in the digital era

“A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.”   (Mark Twain)

The modern library – traditional, electronic and a hybrid – provides full and free access to information, knowledge and culture based on the use of new information and communication technologies.

Today, the face of libraries is changing as content moves to digital platforms, and access to the Internet becomes a human necessity rather than a privilege. The future of libraries is related to the process of transformation of traditional information and material flows into digital form, by providing access to their content with new tools.

These changes have already impacted significantly the knowledge and skills required from the library and informational professionals working in this contemporary informational environment.

What digital skills are necessary for library information specialists today?

Based on the Map of the knowledge and skills of the librarians employed in the service of the users of library and information services, suggested by the Library and Information Complex of Varna Higher School of Management, the following knowledge and skills in the field of information and communication technologies are required:

Hardware aspects of a computerized workplace
  • Recognizes the elements of a computerized workplace (computer, peripherals);
  • is acquainted with the purpose and operation of the most frequently used peripheral devices in library activities;
  • Knows the basic technological terms;
  • Knows the role of computerized systems in the information cycle;
  • Can list the elements of a computer system;
  • Can determine the different types of computer systems and their use;
  • Recognizes and performs basic operations with computer hardware: computer (on, off, restart), monitor (on, off), keyboard functionality, use of external storage devices and external memory (floppy disk, hard disk, CD, DVD, USB memory), audio-visual peripherals (speakers, headphones, microphone, webcam), multimedia projector, printer and scanner.
Software aspects of a computerized workplace. Operating systems and application programs. Library computer systems
  • Knows the purpose of software in a computer system;
  • Can identify the operating system and application software;
  • Knows about the existence of different types of operating systems and software applications;
  • Is acquainted with the tendencies in the development of the software;
  • Knows the main purpose of the programs from the MS Office package (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, publishing);
  • Understands and executes basic user commands for: writing, correcting, editing text; creating, correcting and editing graphic images; creating, correcting and editing tables; drawing up, reviewing and printing a document;
  • Understands and performs basic user operations through Word: saving, copying, renaming, moving, opening, deleting documents; formatting, graphics, tables, lists, documents; merging documents; work in different modes (for printing, for electronic publications);
  • Knows about the existence of various software systems for specialized library activities;
  • Working with the Windows operating system (control package and users, working with windows, work with folders, work with files, search the file system, setting up the work environment, work with programs, additional programs, work with peripheral devices).
Internet and network communication
  • Basics of the Internet and Internet browsers (can use basic functionality of Internet Explorer and Mozilla browsers; knows the terminology related to search engines; understand the mechanisms of search engines;
  • Work with Internet Explorer (Can use the basic functionality of some of the most popular common search engines; is familiar with the main criteria for evaluating the information content of an open source);
  • Basics of e-mail (basic functionalities and additional applications);
  • Real-time Internet communication (web-based email, Skype, Viber, Google Hangouts);
  • Social networks (knows the nature and working environment of the world’s most popular social networks);
  • Internet blogs (is familiar with the essence and peculiarities of blogs; can register own blog);
  • Internet security (knows the hardware and software problems that can lead to security breaches; is familiar with the prevailing motives for attacks and the most common types of attacks);
  • Creating and publishing a website.
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To meet the needs of the digital society, today’s library and information specialists need to constantly upgrade their digital skills. In this way, through the implementation of the modern ICTs, library specialists will be able to facilitate access to library funds and the offered services.

Today, in the times of the lockdowns caused by COVID-19 and social exclusion, people realized the need for adequate digital skills. We have seen that some of the organizations concerned during the pandemic were the libraries. Not all library specialists can respond to the innovations and challenges caused by the advent of digital transformation in our live. We believe our Biblio project will provide an adequate support for librarians to boost their digital skills and competences and prepare them to address the contemporary challenges.

post by ULSIT
featured image by Paulina B on Unsplash