Monday, January 7, 2008

Specialist vs generalist

What came out so clearly at the SA library academy was the need for research librarians to get PhD's in order to be acceptable to the research community. The nature of SA librarianship is that library schools produce generalists who then develop specialist knowlege in academic libraries but its not the same. The academic library community here cannot afford PhD librarians per subject. Most academic librarians deal with a range of subjects unless in a specialist branch library. Librarians with PhD's are more likely to end up in more lucrative posts at management level than stay as a 'subject' or research librarian - if the qualification is in librarainship; PhD's in subject areas are likely to move into those fields and out of librarianship. PhD's amongst librarians are the exception rather than the rule. The argument is of course, a PhD is usually gained in one specific area; is the PhD needed to be a subject specialist or because it reflects success at managing the research process. Are there other ways of becoming specialsits and becoming acceptable to the research community without a PhD? In terms of the emerging researcher it would seem that knowledge of the research process and the detail involved in steps along the way as one's role may be that of mentor not just teachign how to find resources. Perhaps it is a case of finding a niche in the researcher's work

Friday, October 12, 2007

What's in a name

Although at a tangent, theres been some interesting discussion about the use of the name Librarian vs other options which gives some idea about the problematic use of labels.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Characteristics of the research librarian

Eileen, here is a very point form summary from the documents from the Academy of those characteristics: and it breaks all the rules of good blogging - too long!

Skills and competencies of the research librarian

1. Knowledge and skills about the subjects and resources and processes and broader
university endeavours

Concentrate on the PhD; be a specialist but also a good allrounder

Resources and tools
• Collection development: Specialist books
. Know what is good scientific practice in each field
• How to search, find and critique the literature old and new
• Help with literature searches and bibliographies
• Help with updating services eg RSS feeds etc
• How to use search tools
• Know about publication changes in online and print
• Knowledgeable about technology
• Provides online tutorials on every aspect of thesis production
• User education and ‘how to manage consumption rather than content’

• Know the disciplines
• Know the research methodologies in competing paradigms of a discipline
• Be able to refer to the best theoretical underpinnings in subjects
• Know who’s who in the subject fields
• Know the key journals in the disciplines
• Knowledge of impact factors eg h index and JCR

• Research ethics and plagiarism; copyright
• Aware of social and cultural values the researcher must respect
• Research savvy

• Have model PhD theses for each subject
• Know about thesis structure
• Have models of literature reviews in every subject

• Help students relate the theory to their study
• How to write a good introduction and conclusion
• Know about academic writing and needed writing skills
• How to prepare a bibliography
• Referencing techniques
• Data management practices

• Understand order of authorship for publication
• Know where to publish and how to choose journals

• Know a subject well enough to be able to draft funding applications and
find funders
• Know conference possibilities

Broader endeavours
• Understands teaching and learning – theory, methods, paradigms, styles
• Knowledge of digital rights and intellectual property
• Effectively markets him/herself and the library and its services
• Supports open access
• Actively involved in institutional repositories; find ways of ‘harvesting e
• Forward thinking about acquisitions and collection development
• Support collaboration; sharing and promoting access to resources – promoting
access and curation in the new information age – knowledge management
• Explore new ways of servicing an increasingly remote user population
• Libraries must ‘undergo continual upgrade and modification’ like other
resources - needs sustainable plan


2. Personal attributes

• Good allrounder
• Innovative
• Provides excellent service
• Good time management
• Prioritises tasks
• Strategic planner
• Good communication skills
• Proactive
• Supports collaboration and seeks opportunities to share expertise and knowledge
• Works as part of a team
• Provides leadership
• Values the principles of librarianship
• Constantly updating skills and qualifications and subject knowledge

What is a research librarian?

I decided that as I have been giving this a lot of thought for the South African context, I'd surf, crawl, trawl and whatever else to see whats out there. Its interesting how the terms 'reference librarian'; 'research librarian' and other terms have been used interchangeably. I wonder if it is just a case of whats in a name or a matter of degree of activity or task specificity? I tend to think it might be feasible to separate these terms out to some extent wihtout being elitist. Research librarian appears to refer more to the academic librarian and specialist librarian but not exclusively. I believe that in SA we are a bit of both research and reference librarian, probably erring more on the side of the reference librarian. I have yet to develop this idea.