New Tricks? Staff Development for the Electronic Library. Proceedings of the Conference held at Bournemouth University, 27‐29 August 1996

Philip Calvert (Victoria University of Wellington)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 1 August 2000




Calvert, P. (2000), "New Tricks? Staff Development for the Electronic Library. Proceedings of the Conference held at Bournemouth University, 27‐29 August 1996", Library Review, Vol. 49 No. 6, pp. 303-310.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The electronic library, the library without walls, or the digital library: call it what you will, there is not much doubt that our existing concepts of the traditional library are being challenged all the time. We are also aware of greater convergence between libraries and information technology units in the same parent organisation. Assuming the prophets are correct and we are moving into a world of electronic libraries, then we had better start training our staff in the skills and techniques they will need to operate successfully in the new environment. But, you will ask, what are the skills we will need for tomorrow?

The conference from which these papers arose had a practical slant. Many authors presented papers reporting on their own training projects, such as Hartland’s Netskills in development at the University of Newcastle, Garrod and Sidgreaves’ paper on SKIP (skills for new information professionals) at the University of Plymouth and McNamara and Core’s paper on the EduLib project (staff development for higher education librarians’ teaching expertise). What one may find, though, is that the most important sources of information lie elsewhere – in the IMPEL project, for example, at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, though Walton has provided a good account of the outcomes of IMPEL1 in this volume.

There cannot be much doubt that librarians and information managers are already experiencing more demand for their teaching skills. In the future, perhaps, we will be more teachers than information intermediaries. If that is so, then information and library studies departments around the world need to look closely at their curricula to see how much students are learning about how to teach, and not just what to teach. Irving addressed this particular problem in her paper on LISTEN (the library and information studies training and education network), and perhaps there should have been other papers like hers.

Even if it has done nothing else, this book has taught me many new acronyms!There are no fewer than 66 abbreviations and acronyms listed at the end of the book. Unfortunately there is no index, nor a general bibliography. The A4 format and the large print font employed for the text make this a rather unattractive volume, but it could find its way on to the shelves of many librarians with an interest in instructional skills, and those managers wondering how we might respond to the challenge of the electronic library.

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