On Being a Librarian

Trends, Achievements, and Perspectives

Competencies for Outreach Librarians

Robust, relevant, and responsive outreach programs developed and delivered within academic libraries aim to engage and support learners, non-users, the under-served, persons with special needs, and targeted groups. The library community changes and shifts its needs driving communication and outreach programs to continually assess and vary programs meeting the diverse information and service needs of any community.

Outreach programs are uniquely situated to offer collaboration opportunities with community leaders, groups, and organizations inside and outside the intuition, enhancing library services while improving the library’s image. Developing a suite of competencies to perform well in this role requires identifying existing competencies in the context of strengths and weaknesses.

Competencies are observable, measurable constellations of skills, knowledge, abilities, and behaviours. A librarian develops a suite of competencies in two areas:

Foundational competencies are those shared across various functional areas and career stages.

Functional competencies are those that represent the dominate responsibilities defining the areas of accountability and position. Functional competencies are demonstrated knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform duties in a specific job or role.

In 2010, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) conducted the  CARL Competencies and Academic Librarians Survey. The results identified the following areas of expected and profiled competencies:

1. Foundational Knowledge

2. Interpersonal skills

3. Leadership and Management

4. Collections Development

5. Information Literacy

6. Research & Contributions to the Profession

7. Information Technology Skills

Each constellation of the above competencies reflect the unique abilities required by academic librarians adapting to ever-changing roles in the context of new opportunities to provide innovative, value-added services in the context of emerging library programing.  Librarians are expected to be strong advocates for library resources, services, sources, programs, and space taking the story of the library beyond its walls to the larger institution and community.

Though published in 2010, the results have value upon which we can reflect, explore, and embrace as we prepare for developing outreach and engagement opportunities for 2020 and beyond.

Core Competencies for 21st Century CARL Librarians





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