Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Design and Implementation of a Subject Librarian Training Program for University Libraries in China

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Design and Implementation of a Subject Librarian Training Program for University Libraries in China

Article excerpt

The expected competencies of subject librarians, key elements in determining effectiveness of library subject services, not only reflect a librarian's collection development skills and service innovation abilities but also have an impact on the transition of library service models. Due to the present urgent need for innovation in library services and the enhancement of subject librarian capacities, the CALIS (China Academic Library & Information System) Program Phase III regards subject librarian training as a vital part of "Librarian Information Literacy Training and Qualification Certification". Through implementation of five phases of subject librarian training, the CALIS Program plans to cultivate a group of subject librarians with practical abilities and innovative spirit for Chinese university libraries and hence promote the development of librarianship in China.

In this paper, the authors look at subject librarian training programs in China, in an effort to increase librarian training program directors, managers, and organizers' knowledge of librarian training in the world and further improve liaison librarians' abilities.


The demand for subject specialists has created new levels of responsibility for reference librarians. The assigned responsibilities such as "editing websites, designing resource navigations, and creating subject blogs," indicate the need for subject librarians to keep up with current information technology skills in addition to maintaining traditional librarianship skills. (1) Results of a survey of New Zealand academic subject librarians conducted in mid-2011 show that serving academic library customers requires not only traditional "reference" skills, but also skills that reflect adaptability, strong communication, customer service, technology support, and training. (2) Librarians at George Mason University Library further put forward that the basic qualities a competent librarian is expected to have should include: "commitment to developing, providing and maintaining high quality services and programs, valuing knowledge, and life-long learning, fostering collaboration and teamwork, engagement in professional development, an enterprising spirit reflecting flexibility,

adaptability, intellectual curiosity, creativity, initiative, persistence, excellent communication and instructional skills, time management and organizational skills." (3) These features summarize the required capabilities of liaison librarians well.

Due to stringent requirements set for subject librarians, many professionals stress librarian literacy training. Krasulski gives some advice, including ways the access services community can act to fill the gap left by the absence of training opportunities in library and information science graduate programs. (4) Luo's study suggests content design opportunities for text reference training and education to help improve service performance. (5) Cassella et al. point out that academic programs should be developed to include communication, project management, and team work skills and lay more emphasis on copyright issues. The study also indicates that repository managers will have to spend a lot of time on professional training and self-directed learning. (6) Todorinova et al. review standards for reference training in academic libraries with a focus on "one-desk service points" and think about best practices for planning, implementing, and evaluating training programs for librarians. (7)

China, however, lacks professional qualification certificate systems for librarians and pertinent and systematic librarian training programs as well. In comparison with United States and United Kingdom university libraries, both the qualification requirements of the occupation and the subject service content in China's university libraries are "left behind." (8) Many university librarians in China do not have library school education or librarian information literacy training, and this influences their ability to offer high quality subject services. …

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