Recurrent discussions of what a graduate from a library and information science program should know are at the forefront of students and library professionals’ minds. Library Science programs offer a core curriculum of courses designed to prepare their students for future employment in library positions. These classes reflect the knowledge of and theory behind essential parts of librarianship that are required for most positions.
Prompted by this need to define the professional education standards for librarianship, the Presidential Task Force on Library Education revised and discussed Core Competencies of various library groups. This document was proposed to the ALA Executive Board. It identifies the core essence of what it means to be a librarian or librarian professional. Librarianship is a multifaceted profession that has helped to shape how we learn and save knowledge created or discovered by mankind.
The study of library and information permeates through many disciplines. In hopes to clarify and standardize a list of competencies essential to the practice of librarianship, the American Library Association’s Presidential Task reviewed current programs and discussed the future of libraries. For those pursuing a career in librarianship, ALA’s core competencies establish basic knowledge graduates of ALA accredited master’s programs in library and information studies should possess. These competencies cover subject areas essential to being employed as a librarian.
The competencies statement is organized into eight core categories that represent the most pervasive skills and knowledge librarians need to know and employ. This is beneficial for all librarians to know, especially for those of us entering or continuing our library science program. Indeed, when examining a library science program it is useful to know why these classes were selected as required courses. Employers will expect that recently graduated library science students will know the information related to ALA’s Core Competencies.
Here is the website devoted to ALA’s Core Competencies: http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/careers/corecomp/corecompetences. This site also has a .pdf of the finalized statement that was approved on January 27th, 2009. The document is useful as a reference tool because librarians, in whatever stage of their career, can evaluate the tasks and knowledge they have and learned by these standards.
Each type of library has created core competencies related specifically to their specialized skills and branches of librarianship. Link to knowledge and competencies statements of specialized branches and professional organizations: http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/careers/corecomp/corecompspecial/knowledgecompetencies.
Here is a selection of few specialized competencies listed on the website above:
American Association of Law Libraries (AALL)-AALL Guidelines for Graduate Programs in Law Librarianship
Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA)-ARLIS/NA Core Competencies for Art Information Professionals
Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)-Competencies for Special Collections Professionals
Music Library Association-Core Competencies and Music Librarians
Society of American Archivists-Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies.