ALA’s Core Competencies for Library Science Professionals

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: 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:

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.



Welcome Library Scientists!

Greetings! My name is Katie Kuntz. I am a second year library science graduate student. I am specializing in rare books and manuscript librarianship. Last spring, I began working for the ILS Career Services department. In this position, I help my fellow students by providing them with opportunities to practice their interviewing skills. I also am able to help revise resumes and cover letters. I am excited to expand this role to include writing a bi-weekly blog. It will be part career advice and discussion about library professionalism.

Over the next year, I hope to help those of us preparing to enter the job market and to provide those of us just beginning their ILS program more knowledge about how to prepare their professional materials.  I will write posts about specific tips for applying and working in a position in the library science profession. The most essential thing everyone must learn is that curiosity is your best asset. If you are willing to learn and expand your comfort zone, the position you are aiming to work in is that much easier to get. As first year students, we are bombarded with all the requirements necessary to complete the program and the overwhelming feeling that we have so much to learn in the next couple of years. But as we will all come to realize library science is a profession that values continued learning and even emphasizes it

This blog will feature tips on how to create a job winning resume and cover letter, advice from ILS alumni, and discussions of how we as library students can prepare to be active, engaged members of our profession.