An eminent writer on management named Edward De Bono has said that two disciplines will emerge in the information society, one is (i) information broker as a collector, sorter, explorer, synthesizer or reviewer and other one is (ii) information designer; or a person who can present information in a form which can be absorbed at a glance. As the demand of the information designers become more LIS professionals have to face a stiff challenge from the profit sector of information service. (Goswami & Gaur ,1998). But on the other way LIS professionals could be an indispensable part of the two disciplines stated by Edward De Bono. There is no doubt that a librarian could be the information broker as well as the information designer. The only thing is that the professionals must have to develop their competencies which are already in them and also have to acquire those competencies which would be needed in near future to make themselves the information brokers as well as the information designers.
In librarianship standard varies from one library to another. Even variation could be seen in different training and degree programmes. National Policy on Library and Information System (LIS), 1986 has discussed Manpower Development and professional Status in chapter VII in its report. The report has recommended that “considering the fact that LIS courses tend to proliferate, introducing on occasions a dilution of standards, there should be an accreditation agency to ensure the standard and the quality of the training imparted.” Thus this statement gives stress on the quality of training that is to be imparted to the professionals. Before going to the training, there is need to find out the types of competencies the professionals are lacking into and what more will be needed for them to maintain standard. Therefore the factor of competencies among the LIS professionals is a matter of serious concern and accordingly there is need of structuring competencies for them. A professional can benchmark himself/herself periodically against best practices identifying the gaps and bridging them in all areas like knowledge, skills, attitudes and work habits. Again, this report also recommended that “In view of the rapidly expanding library and information services and the fast changing character of library and information science, the development of manpower in a planned manner becomes essential.” National Policy on Library and Information System has strongly advocated that the LIS professionals must be given every facility to refresh his/ her expertise so as to keep abreast of advancing knowledge by a planned development of programme.
Librarianship as a profession:
The word “profession” is derived from a concept which indicates the work that an individual is called upon. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines the word profession as “A type of job that needs special training or skill, especially one that needs a high level of education.” Webster Comprehensive Dictionary has defined profession as “An occupation that properly involves a liberal education or its equivalent, and mental rather than manual labor.” The eminent social scientists A. M Can- Saunders and P A Wilson in their article Professions said “we recognize a profession as a vocation founded upon a prolonged and specialized intellectual training which enables a particular service to be rendered” (Chakrabarty ,1993, p.281). Basically a profession is an occupation which is —
1) Based on liberal education;
2) Requiring a definite period of training offered by special schools;
3) Involving a definite body of knowledge rather than mere skill;
4) Resulting in practical work rather than solely research or investigation;
5) Devoted to service to society rather than to financial gain;
6) Concerned with some human or social need;
7) Governed by a code of ethics;
8) Usually represented by a national organization;
9) Requiring mental rather than manual labor.
A review of literature on professionalism has revealed a few characteristics of professionalism. These are ( Goswami & Gaur,1998, p. 8):-
1) Expertise ( normally gained from a prolonged specialized training);
2) Autonomy ( right to make choices);
3) Commitment to work and profession;
4) Ethics and
5) Maintenance of standard
Beginning with Abraham Flexner in 1915 different sociologists and practitioners have attempted to list out the distinctive features of a profession. A review of these and other sources suggests seven principal attributes of a profession (Chakrabarty, 1993, p. 283). The seven principal attributes are as follows:-
1) The existence of an organized body of systematic and theoretical knowledge.
2) The existence of a professional association which monitors the general standard of activity.
3) The code of ethics which regulates relations of professional persons with clients and colleagues.
4) A dedication among members to the enhancement of the profession and to the education of its members.
5) A set of applied techniques for practice.
6) A service orientation to clients.
7) Recognition from a significant number of non-practitioners.
Librarianship as a vocation has been evolved through the ages, but the librarianship as a profession has evolved latter on. Still there are some debates. Some people consider it as an occupation, others argue that like any other profession it is also a profession, some conclude that it is not and never will be; still others argue that it has made some progress on the road to becoming a profession. Pierce Butler in 1951 said, “We all do believe that librarianship is a Profession.” (Chakrabarty, 1993, p.286). As a profession librarianship has been called an “essential” and a “service” profession. There are a good number evidences and a strong base which are enough to establish librarianship as a profession. If we have gone through all the attributes stated above it could be seen that the librarianship possess all the attributes which a profession should need to have. Basically, like any other profession its professional skill is based on scientific knowledge and on a commodity. Moreover it has its own code of ethics and it is oriented to the readers as clients.
Librarianship in the 1990’s and beyond:
The profession has to face lots of changes and troubles during the period of 1990’s.There are three major documents which discuss the different dilemmas regarding the changes in the profession are: a) Statement on the Decade of the Librarian 1990- 2000; b) Information 2000: Library and Information Services for the 21st Century and c) Strategic Vision for Professional Librarians.
The Statement of the Decade of the Librarian 1990- 2000 was prepared as the part of the American Library Association’s strategic planning process. This document was approved by ALA Council at the 1991 annual meeting in Atlanta. The document opens with the following vision statement describing a librarian in the year 2000:- “The vision of the librarian in year 2000 is as a leader, a fighter, an expert, a partner, a model, and a professional. In order to achieve tins vision we must reposition librarianship as the information profession in society by enhancing society’s perception of librarians; each librarian must also take responsibility for his or her own self- image and professional definition; acting as professionals with a mission instead of employees with a job. Library employment must recognize their responsibility for investing in their personnel.” (Kapoor, 2007, p.221)
This statement goes on to provide six strategic directions for ensuring that this profile of the librarian is realized. This vision is to be achieved by bringing the best people in the profession, educating people for library and information careers, creating a work force that reflects a pluralistic society, compensating librarians at a more competitive level, keeping the librarians who are in the profession and increasing recognition for librarians as Information professionals in a changing society. The main focus of these strategies is the recruitment of “new blood” into the profession.
The second document Information 2000: Library and Information Services for the 21st Century is a summary report published on the occasion of 1991 White House Conference on Library and Information Service which identified three challenges for libraries in the near future. These challenges were in the areas of literacy, productivity and democracy. The report Information 2000 contains a complete listing of the conference recommendations and library based solutions to the challenges facing by the society in the three areas. The proposed solutions rely heavily on technology or related approaches to the provision of library and information services. The report is consisting with the requests for federal action, federal funding, partnerships, coalitions, the development of model programs and the education and training of librarians. In fact, three of the ninety- five recommendations and petitions were directed specifically at personnel and staff development. The recommendations of the report suggest to study about the alternative delivery systems for providing access to master’s level study; to provide scholarships, grants and loans at all level to support continuing education, staff development and training of the professional for personnel development and staff development.
The third document Strategic Vision for Professional Librarians is a statement developed by the Strategic Visions Steering Committee, which contains the most sweeping recommendations for change in the profession. The committee members were a group of library leaders who have been engaged in thoughtful discussion about the profession and its future. This group of concern librarians has developed a vision of the profession which makes commitment to selecting and delivering information to the user on right time in right ways; to educating users to manage information; to furthering the development of the “virtual library”; to taking responsibility for information policy development and to experimenting with new forms of organizational structure and staffing within libraries to enable delivery of new types of services to users. This document also has several recommendations about recruitment and development of the profession’s work force.
Each of these documents identifies different challenges for the profession and proposed different solutions to these challenges. But they concur on two themes: a) they recognize that librarianship must change if it is to remain a viable and productive part of society; and b) they rely heavily on “new recruits” to the profession to carry out their proposed change. Different studies and surveys have been done on the basis of the recommendations of these three documents. But the Library and Information science experts are in the view that the repositioning of the profession will not be achieved by recruiting new talent to the profession. They say the profession does not need new librarians as it needs renewed librarians. The repositioning of the library profession can only be achieved through the continuing education and development of existing staff.
Emerging challenges before Librarianship:
The ever changing nature of the Information and Communication technology and exponential growth of information have created lots of challenges before the librarianship. Das and Halder (2015) have shorted out the following factors of change which are posing challenges to the modem librarianship:-
a) Unpredictable, unquantifiable, exponential growth of knowledge and consequential proliferation of literature.
b) Rapid adoption of Information technology as a tool in all stages to increase operational efficiency and new methods of communication.
c) Evolution of inter- disciplinary subjects.
d) Spiraling price rise and declining budgetary allocation.
e) Emergence of increasing self- informed users.
f) Social pressures and globalization forcing users to move away from library.
g) Diversification of information of its sources into a variety of formats.
h) Increasing new demands of information from its users.
i) Increasing resources and decreasing space.
The library has been seen as the three interrelated spheres- the sphere of optimum content; the operational or mechanistic sphere and the sphere of maximum context. ICT is needed in the second sphere to make it more operational in terms of speed, accuracy and efficiency. But ICT is the instrumentation but the Librarianship is a service. Hence it the responsibility of the LIS professionals to establish the needs of services that they are rendering, so that technology could not put them out of business.
Changing trends of Library services:
Change is a natural process. It is a continuous and inevitable phenomenon symbolized the growth and evolution. It is quite natural to change anything and everything with time. Being a part of the society Library and Information centres cannot remain in isolation. They have to be changed for their growth and survival. In case of the Libraries and Information Centres dynamics of changes are there in the approaches of process, service and products that led the changes in their components. Some of the basic factors identified as reason of the transformation of Library and Information centres are as follows:-
a) Computerization and Communication network
b) Restructuring economy
c) Social and political Transformations
d) Financial pressures.
The new age librarianship brought several dramatic changes. The most important paradigm shift in this profession is the shift from possession cum custodian to access. The notable changes in the realm of LIS profession are as follows:-
❖ Possession to Access
❖ Custodian to facilitator
❖ Guardian to Friends of the users
❖ Reader to User
❖ Time- bound access to Any- time Access
❖ Space- bound Access to Any- time Access
❖ Library- cenetred to User- centered
Rigidity to Flexibility
❖ Ascetic Environment to Informal environment
❖ Strict Norms to Information Commons
❖ One Format to Diversified Format
❖ Direction to Participation
❖ Copyright Leadership to Heuristics
❖ Acquisition to Access ( Das & Halder, 2015, p. 72)
Managing change in Libraries:
Change is must and everyone has to accept it. Library and information centres as well as the library professionals have to accept change like everyone which has jumped on in order not to be left behind. The important question in this regards is that how to manage these changes. Whenever there is change that should not be merely for the sake of change only. The change must be for the improved quality and efficient service. It is very much essential that the changes which have occurred must be well managed to get the quality and efficiency. 3.5.1 Strategies for change In the process of change it is very much essential to ensure the successful implementation of change. For this it is also necessary to adopt some strategies and following are some of them:-
a) Recognizing the need for change;
b) Overcoming resistance to change; and
c) Approaches to implement change
a) Recognizing the need for change:- As first strategy it is essential to find out whether change is necessary or not and the change should not be made merely for the sake of only. The need to adopt change leads organization to key- strategic-management questions, such as :-
➢ What kinds of services are provided?
➢ Are the providing services in the right direction?
➢ Do there need to rethink the purpose or set new directions?
➢ Should they reshape their services and products?
➢ How the users’ information needs are changing?
➢ Are the new technologies being developed to put the libraries out of business?
b) Overcoming resistance to change:- The next step for introducing change in library is the overcoming resistance which should be considered the single greatest threat to successful implementation of strategy. Resistance in the form of sabotaging, absenteeism, filling unfounded grievances and an unwillingness to cooperate, regularly occurs in an organization (Gupta & Jain,1996). It has been seen that people often resist strategy implementation because they do not understand what is happening or why changes are taking places. In that case employees may simply need accurate information. It can be further accomplished by building trust or confidence, developing open communication and encouraging employee’s participation.
c) Approaches to implement change: There are various approaches for implementing change such as force change strategy, educative change strategy and rationale or self —interest strategy. Among all these rationale or self- interest- change strategy is the most effective approach which is consisted of following steps:-
Step I: – At first the employees are invited to participate in the process of change and detail of transition. The participation allows the every employee to give opinions, to feel a part of change process, and identify their own self-interests regarding the recommended change.
Step II:- Some motivation or incentive to the change is required for the employees.
Step III:- Communication among the human resources from top to the bottom is very much essential so that people can understand the purpose for the change.
Step IV:- Feedback is one of the most important aspect in this regard. In this step giving and receiving feedback is to be done. It helps everyone to know how things are going and how much progress is being made.
A great responsibility lies on the whole staff of the libraries while implementing changes, whether they are professionals or non- professionals. The top professionals in the hierarchy have great responsibilities to lead individuals, groups or the entire library organization by fostering new values, attitudes and behaviour in every group of individuals. Noel M Tichy has described some characteristics which a leader must need to have to achieve change successfully. Noel M Tichy said, “They are courageous individuals able to take stand against the status quo and confront reality even if it is painful. They prove their commitment in the transformation task through sheer hard work and self- sacrifice. They have great faith in their people. They are cheer leaders, coaches and counsellors. They have interpersonal relationship with their employees. They may be the most powerful persons in their organization set up. They empower others to make things happen. They are value driven and articulate a set of core value and behaviour. They are driven not by power or money, but by satisfaction in building organization, seeing people develop and accomplishing things through others. They are visionaries with a clear idea of what the company needs to do to complete in future. They are able to communicate dreams so that other people could share them.”(Gupta & Jain, 1996, pp.31-32)
Application of Information and Communication Technology in Library and Information centres:
The major trend of change in libraries has come into being due to the adoption of Information Technology at first and the Information & Communication technology (ICT) later on. Technology offers the opportunity to increase access far beyond that which has been achieved thus far. At the same time it also increases the ability and means to control access to information. In 1950’s new technology was first introduced into the Library and Information centers. The first and most important advance was the introduction of microfilm in libraries as a means of expanding resources. However microfilm has been used in libraries since the 1930’s, but it came into its own in the 1950’s with the development of a variety of new and improved automatic cameras, processors and printers. Another major development in the mid of 1960’s was the introduction of the Xerox 914 machine in the libraries. After that the most significant advance in 1960s was the introduction of computer into the library and information activities. By the early 1970s, many libraries and information centers were all squarely into the online bibliographic search business. The next major advance in this march of technology promises to be the widespread use of CD-ROM and other forms of optical and video disk systems in combination with powerful microcomputer systems. In the 1980s access to online information services in the libraries was also an event in the process of trend of change. Today it is impossible to think a library or information center without having ICT application. Technology has brought revolutionary change in the nature of library and information centre from electronic to digital and from digital to virtual. Accordingly the nature of the resources and types of services rendered has also been changed. All these changes have simultaneously compelled the Library and Information professionals to change themselves. No doubt technology is the creator of possibilities and it offers lots of opportunity but at the same it is something which is very difficult to manage as it itself is ever changing.
Technology has brought some basic changes mainly in the nature of resources from print to electronic forms; Ways of providing library services and nature of information seeking behavior of the users. Today is the day of digitization, electronic publication, Web2.0, Library 2.0, Really Simple Syndication (RSS), Blogs, Wilds, Short Message Service (SMS), Podcasting, Mashups, Tagging, Folksonomies, Open Source Software (OSS), Open Access (OA) etc. All these have created a new Librarian landscape advocating new role, competencies, skills and knowledge among the LIS professionals.
Original Research Article:
- Deepa, B. (2017). The factors of competency development among the working library professionals of the university libraries of North East India challenges and realities. Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/10603/207716
A great article! Really articulated what librarianship is, the purpose of libraries in the society, need of change in libraries and the strategic steps to follow when change is needed? Thanks for the information