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Competencies for information specialists in emerging roles

Melissa Fraser-Arnott (San Jose State University, San Jose, California, USA)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 9 January 2017




Librarians are increasingly involved in projects and teams that require them to exhibit a broad range of knowledge and competencies which extend beyond traditional librarianship to include aspects of records management, information management, and knowledge management. In effect, librarians need to be information specialists, but the task of broadening one’s knowledge and competencies may be daunting, and it is helpful to explore the competencies of these various information disciplines as a guideline for competency development. The purpose of this paper is to provide some insights into the shared competencies and knowledge of these disciplines.


This paper describes an analysis of the competency profiles of librarians, records managers, information managers, archivists, and knowledge managers and provides a competency profile for information specialists that incorporates the knowledge and competencies from all of these areas. The sources used for this analysis were existing competency profiles developed by professional associations and employers of information workers such as government agencies.


The analysis resulted in the development of a competencies list which includes five competencies groups. These competency groups are: collaboration, client service, and communication; organizational understanding and strategic alignment; programme and service delivery and management; records, information, and knowledge management technical competencies; and personal qualities.

Practical implications

This analysis may be useful for librarians or library students who are determining which professional development opportunities to undertake as well as for managers who are seeking to define job profiles for their library staff in today’s complex information environment.


This paper bridges the disciplines of librarianship, information management, records management, archives, and knowledge management by comparing their relative competency profiles in order to create a set of competencies that are common to all disciplines.



Fraser-Arnott, M. (2017), "Competencies for information specialists in emerging roles", Library Management, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 65-76.



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