Identifying Core Competencies for Electronic Resources Librarians in the Twenty-First Century Library
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The purpose of this three phase study was to identify competencies for electronic resources librarians based on their appearance in job ads (phase one) and to determine which competencies are taught in MLIS programs, which are taught in continuing education, and whether significant differences exist between the two educational venues in terms of which competencies for electronic resources librarians are being taught (phase two). The study concluded with a comparison of the competencies for electronic resources librarians identified in the first phase of the study with ALA’s Core Competences of Librarianship (phase three). In phase one, content analysis of 190 job ads for electronic resources librarians published between January 2005 and December 2009 was conducted. These competencies were then sought in 286 online electronic resources related MLIS course syllabi and 274 continuing education course descriptions which, in both cases, were taught between January 2005 and December 2009. Chi-square tests of independence were performed to determine whether a competency that is identified as being required or preferred in job ads is independent from whether it is associated with experience, knowledge, or ability in the context of the job ads. In the second phase of the study, Mann-Whitney U tests were used to identify significant relationships between the frequency with which competencies were identified in MLIS course syllabi and the frequency with which competencies were identified in continuing education course descriptions. In the third phase of the study, a set of core competencies for electronic resources librarians was developed based on the results of the content analysis conducted in phase one and then compared with ALA’s Core Competences of Librarianship using word clouds for comparative analysis. Results reinforce the importance of continuing education, identify competencies taught in formal coursework and in CE courses, compare and contrast all three sets of identified competencies, and emphasize the significance of technology in ER librarianship. Abbott’s theory of the System of Professions (Abbott 1988) is used as a theoretical framework for further discussion of the results.