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Tech-Savvy Librarian Versus (Library) Technologist: Understanding the Future Role of Librarians in Technology Practice

Re-envisioning the MLS: Perspectives on the Future of Library and Information Science Education

ISBN: 978-1-78754-885-5, eISBN: 978-1-78754-884-8

Publication date: 17 May 2018

Abstract

Purpose – As the role of technology in libraries has broadened and expanded, tech-savvy librarians and non-librarian technologists are increasingly working side by side in complex digital environments. Little research has explored the key differences between these roles and the implications for the future of the Master of Library Science (MLS) and its variant degrees, particularly as technologists from various backgrounds increasingly enter the information field. This chapter contrasts the technological responsibilities of the two groups to build an understanding of the necessity of the MLS in library-oriented technology work.

Design/Methodology/Approach – Qualitative coding and text mining techniques were used to analyze technology-oriented librarian and non-librarian job advertisements, technology curriculum changes, and surveyed technology interests of current information professionals.

Findings – Findings indicate a clear distinction between librarian and non-librarian technology responsibilities. Librarian positions emphasize web design, data and metadata, technology troubleshooting, and usage of library-oriented software. Non-librarian technologists require programming, database development, and systems administration, with deeper software and systems knowledge. Overlap was noted in the areas of user experience, linked data, and metadata. Several newer trends that information professionals expressed a desire to learn – such as makerspace technologies – were observed to be poorly covered in the technology curriculum, though the MLS curriculum generally covered the tech-savvy librarians’ responsibilities.

Originality/Value – This chapter builds understanding of the current necessity of the MLS in library-oriented technology work, as contrasted against the role of non-librarian technologists, through analysis of a triangulated set of data sources covering employment opportunities, technology curriculum, and librarians’ technology interests.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgment

The author would like to thank John J. Burke, MSLS, for sharing the raw data gathered in his 2016 survey of LIS practitioners.

Citation

Maceli, M. (2018), "Tech-Savvy Librarian Versus (Library) Technologist: Understanding the Future Role of Librarians in Technology Practice", Percell, J., Sarin, L.C., Jaeger, P.T. and Bertot, J.C. (Ed.) Re-envisioning the MLS: Perspectives on the Future of Library and Information Science Education (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 44B), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 153-178. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0065-28302018000044B009

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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