As I approach my fifth year working in a library, post my librarianship degree, I’ve been reflecting on the skills that I didn’t learn in my degree, but that I learned on the job and by engaging in the profession more broadly. I’d like to acknowledge that unlike most if you, I haven’t done a masters or bachelor degree in librarianship, but a postgraduate certificate on top of my arts and communication degree. As such, my year in LIS studies, was rather limited.
Taking a critical approach to librarianship wasn’t a concept to me during my studies, other than that libraries support “freedom of information.” It wasn’t until I starting engaging with the communities and sharing my own passion for diversity and inclusion that critical librarianship or #critlib became something I really aligned myself with. Drawing from critical theory and critical literacy, critical information literacy asks librarians to “consider the historical, cultural, social, economic, political and other forces that affect information” (Gregory and Higgins 2013). For those, wondering where to start on their own Crit Lib journey, here are two lists to get you started:
- A fantastic list of resources can be found on the critlib Zotero group: https://www.zotero.org/groups/critlib
- ALIA Sydney’s Saturday School of Critical Librarianship – resources & reading https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MGfKvG2tATzncWQhkmo5ePSGz5hEBj8WKSYNfQONPLs/mobilebasic
Copyright was barely mentioned in my studies, which was unfortunate for two reasons:
- I landed a job in copyright librarian with barely any knowledge or confidence
- Copyright is connected to almost everything we do in libraries. One of librarianship’s primary aims is the dissemination of knowledge, which can only be achieved through the reproduction, communication and distribution of information – therefore, it seems vital that all librarians understand copyright.
I self-taught myself and relied on the expertise of mentors to increase my copyright knowledge and copyright. Here are some of my go-to resources:
- The fact sheets from Copyright Council Australia are one of the most useful resources when answering copyright queries https://www.copyright.org.au/ACC/Find_an_Answer/Browse_by_A-Z/ACC/Public_Content/Information_Sheets_A-Z.aspx?hkey=2ae237d3-8c57-4084-81cd-fc4c81619a65
- Smart copying – a guide for schools and TAFE https://www.smartcopying.edu.au/
Advocacy and marketing skills
I’d wish I’d had some training on how to act as advocate for myself and others, how to advocate with external agencies, library workers and for patrons themselves, as well as advocating the value of libraries and my own work. I’d also wish library studies focused more on marketing as well – teaching students to promote libraries and all that they offer, and introduce me to the power of social media.
Pedagogy and educational technology
I think being exposed to more diverse educational technologies and pedagogies in studies would have prepared me for the content creation and instructional design aspects of librarianship that I sometimes undertake. During my employment in academic libraries, I’ve taught myself instructional design skills, pedagogical theories and how to create interactive resources using programs such as Articulate 360. After my librarianship degree, I did a completed a graduate certificate in digital learning environments to further strengthen my skills in this area, which I was exposed to pedagogy and elements such as accessibility, which were also left out of library studies.
What skills did you wish you had learned in your library degree?
Gregory, L. and Higgins, S. (2013). Information literacy and social justice: Radical professional praxis. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press.