Competencies for Academic Librarians

March, 2013

In 2013, the dean of my university library challenged the librarians under her supervision to produce a list of competencies for academic librarians. I produced the list below, focusing both on competencies that all academic librarians should possess and on those that were specific to my position at the time.

Competencies Applicable to All Academic Librarians

  • Broad understanding of media through which information is conveyed

    • both historic and emerging

    • both in isolation and in ecology with other media

  • Basic knowledge of industry tools and organizational systems (catalogs, search engines, indexing and abstracting tools, full-text databases, bibliographic utilities, controlled vocabularies, classification systems, etc.)

  • Basic understanding of bibliographic databases (flat and relational designs, metadata, standard numbers, etc.)

  • Basic skill in management of library collections (assessment of needs, identification of relevant literature, use of bibliographic tools, principles of selection and deselection, use of review media, knowledge of purchasing sources, etc.)

  • General capacity for enhancing customers’ information skills

    • through individual and group-based instruction

    • through face-to-face interactions and printed and digital media

  • Ability to work pleasantly and productively with a variety of stakeholders (subordinates, colleagues, superiors, customers, vendors, etc.)

  • Disposition to serve customers enthusiastically

  • Basic fluency in the use of information technology (operating system, productivity software, network operations, printing, file management)

  • Commitment to Christian higher education, as embodied in the University’s mission and vision

  • Commitment to continuous professional development

Competencies Applicable to All Librarians with Leadership and Management Responsibilities

  • Ability to motivate others to perform effectively via various organizational arrangements (direct supervision, matrix management, committee assignments, etc.)

  • Ability to perform essential supervisory functions (role definition, recruitment, selection, orientation and training, direction, evaluation, etc.)

  • Capacity to manage personnel-related information with appropriate discretion

Competencies Specific to My Position: Assessment

  • Basic understanding of various quantitative and qualitative research methods (surveys, focus groups, ethnography, etc.)

  • Broad skill in various kinds of data analysis and assessment (statistical analysis, data mining, textual analysis, benchmarking, etc.)

  • Broad knowledge of various data sources` available for the measurement and evaluation of library services

  • High attention to detail

  • Capacity to communicate complex quantitative and qualitative concepts

    • in person and in writing

    • via text, graphs, and images

  • Facility with mathematical and statistical operations

  • Intermediate skill in the use of spreadsheet software (formulas, pivot tables, conditional formatting, data tools, etc.)

  • Basic skill in the use of database software (tables, queries, reports, importing/exporting of data, etc.)

  • Capacity to manage an extensive array of data and reports with attention to discovery, integrity, security, and confidentiality

Competencies Specific to My Position: Finance

  • Compliance with the University’s financial policies and procedures

  • Broad skill in the use of the University’s financial software systems

  • Capacity to oversee budgetary activity through analysis of expenditures and assessment of needs

  • Capacity to communicate with budget stakeholders regarding needs, policies, procedures

  • High attention to detail

  • Basic skill in the use of spreadsheet software

  • Facility with handling mathematical and financial operations

Want to learn more about academic librarianship and related topics?

Click the buttons below to see relevant entries in my bibliography, SmithFile.