Librarians' Education in the Age of Knowledge: Consideration of Skills, Methods, and Tools

By Dastgerdi, Akram Fathian | Library Philosophy and Practice, April 2009 | Go to article overview
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Librarians' Education in the Age of Knowledge: Consideration of Skills, Methods, and Tools


Dastgerdi, Akram Fathian, Library Philosophy and Practice


Introduction

Librarians and librarianship have been changed by the development and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The use of these technologies has changed our ideas about access and ownership. It has also changed our ideas about librarians' duties and responsibilities. Library users have also been affected by ICT. Their experience with technology has changed their expectations of libraries and librarians. Can a librarian who has not risen to the challenge of ICT meet the needs of users? Today's users still need librarians for a variety of reasons:

* Increasing amount of information and continuous information updating

* Array of media and formats for information

* Lack of confidence in accuracy information

* Need to evaluate information resources according to professional standards

* Scattering of information in different electronic and printed sources

* Users' need for knowledge of different types of information resources and search strategies.

The educational and guiding roles of librarians are more important than ever. Librarians need new and updated education to fulfill their role. This article analyzes the skills needed by librarians and ways of providing education to obtain those skills.

Literature Review

A number of scholars have done research on the educational needs of librarians in Iran, and have also evaluated existing programs. Asadikiya (1997) studied in-service training for librarians in 1994-1995 among nine governmental centers in Tehran. The study found that courses in "classification and organization," "introduction to librarianship," and "filing" were taught most often and considered most important. These centers have also generally offered one or more additional programs in the form of seminars, lectures, and meetings.

Mazinani (1998) assessed the required skills of 333 managers and 915 librarians employed in 424 university libraries and specialty information centers. The results showed that more than half the organizations surveyed use personnel who have educations in fields other than librarianship and information science. About half the librarians and managers had not completed any library education. The respondents pointed to technology changes as the major factor requiring new skills. This study indicated that professional librarians and managers with a BA or higher degree, especially in LIS, need courses in information technology, library software, specialized reference sources and databases, whereas those with associate of arts and lower need training in general and specialized reference, selection and provision of audiovisual material and software, cataloging and organizing audiovisual material, and knowledge of databases and library software.

Teymoorkhani (2003) evaluated short-term in-service educational programs in the education center of the National Library in 1996-2003. This research considered courses offered, quality of classes, educational resources of the center, and behavior of the teachers. The findings showed that most of those surveyed (766 trainees) were satisfied with materials, classes, and teachers. Courses on cataloging, organizing, and reference materials were most welcomed by the trainees.

In 2005, Kalbasi and Abedi did research on the educational needs of librarians of middle and high schools in Isfahan province and on designing in-service training for librarians. The study showed that educational priorities for these librarians were collection building, organization, ethics of librarianship, psychology, sociology, and Internet. Gender and years of service had no effect on their priorities. The librarians surveyed felt little need for computer and Internet access and training, which is of concern.

Specifications for a Knowledge-based Society

Knowledge has been described as "a fluid combination of actual experiences, values, practical-based information and professional findings in an organization which provide a framework for evaluating and increasing new information and experiences.

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