How the library workforce is being reshaped for the future

Libraries are facing new trends, digital technologies, and community engagement opportunities – which will reshape the workforce, now and into the future.

Redefining our libraries and their opportunities

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The Libraries Board of SA, the Local Government Association of SA (LGA of SA), Public Library Services and Public Libraries SA (PLSA) have teamed up to create a report on changes expected to occur over the next 15 years.  Tomorrow’s Libraries is the collective result…with some interesting reading.

Tomorrow’s Libraries provides a framework for action to ensure public libraries remain integral to current and future generations.  It outlines a clear mission for South Australia’s Public Library Network (SAPLN), as well as detailing the community and personal benefits of libraries.

Five strategies, 15 goals and 37 recommended actions have been put in place – all of which focus impacting the lives of everyday working people, and the future of South Australia.

In particular, SAPLN supports the fourth of the Economic Priorities for the State, which pledges South Australia to become the Knowledge State and a number of initiatives have resulted.

The Empowering Staff Project, for example, aims to deliver two skills frameworks for public library staff, relating to key digital skills and 21st century abilities required for library staff by mapping existing training against those skills.

Then, there’s the School Community Library Project.  It aims to assist councils to implement Community Led Planning to ensure that local demographics, interests and future library usage patterns are addressed in the design and funding of rural library services.  The project will produce a strategy for future library delivery.

2030 Vision: Building a Community

The State’s library system needs to evolve and deepen connectivity in response to the collaborative economy and practices that lie ahead.

With a 2030 vision all about building smart communities, libraries will be delivering and creating content and knowledge, through innovative digital technology.

And the library workforce will be a key player in helping to achieve this.

The role of the librarian is moving from information provider to mentor.  People will come to librarians for advice, coaching and ongoing support – as they make their way through their own self-learning.  Over the last decade, librarians have been required to perform a number of different roles or perform a number of tasks alongside their areas of specialisation.

Comprehensive and generalised skill sets, which may have once been more typical of smaller or special libraries, are now important across all library sectors.  Emerging technologies are driving changes to service delivery and the structure of the workforce.

Leadership, information delivery, technical skills

Helping library staff understand these changes will be the greatest challenge.  Leadership, skills development and fostering a culture of change and innovation are a core focus for the Public Library Network into the future.

The new way of teaching and delivering information requires digital skills, the use of tools and applications.  Navigating and curating content while fostering a community connection will also be crucial.

The State hopes to keep libraries as welcoming and free places for all, continuing to ‘put community at the centre.’  A place where learning, participation, creativity and innovation intersect – bringing together both the physical and digital worlds.

Workforce Blueprint can assist you with industry workforce plans and professional development in workforce planning for your sector, please contact Wendy Perry, via wendy@workforceblueprint.com.au for more information.

February 2016

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