I was invited to present a short talk for the 2016 ALCTS President’s Symposium, Re-envisioning “Technical Services” to Transform Libraries, and to expand on this in an ALCTS Webinar. This post follows the basic train of my remarks (as of 25 January 2017) but expands on a few points and has been updated to weave in ideas that came up in the discussion.
As ALA Annual Vegas recedes into a hazy memory, and with a fresh round of Committee assignments starting and new guidance from PARS-Exec about expectations for Interest Group and Conference participation, I’ve had a few questions from people about how to get involved in PARS.
First off, let me say thank you, bravo, and encore. We need new people to take up the work of the Association, because some of us are more than ready for a little break, plus you seem to have energy, ambition, and good ideas. If you’re wavering, wondering what you might be signing on for, and what you’ll get out of it, let me give it to you plainly:
- PARS is a friendly group of people.
- PARS is a small Section of ALA, so we often have room for people who want to get involved.
- PARS gets a pretty high amount of stuff done, pretty quickly.
- PARS develops and promotes standards and practices that see actual use.
- PARS does not get everything done, nor does it do everything quickly.
- PARS pulls off some big things, Preservation Week, for example.
- PARS knows more about inherent vice than any other Section of ALA.
Now let me make that all a little murky.
On March 27, 2014, I spoke at an OCLC Symposium, “Regional Print Management: Right-Scaling Solutions“. The talk was recorded and can be viewed on OCLC Research YouTube Channel. I discussed the development of ReCAP and an investigation of strategies and technologies for sharing collections that was funded by teh Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. That work is detailed in a report available from ReCAP. The project explored policies, workflows, and technologies require to reposition ReCAP from being three collections sharing a facility into a shared collection, developed and operated by three partners.
The doldrums are more politely known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone and in maritime lore, they are the period of the voyage where the ship drifts in dead air and still seas. In the doldrums, one waits (and waits, and waits) for the wind to change or a current to pass, and then leaps to action to make the most of the gust or ripple to edge a little further onwards. In the mean time, the ship drifts hither and thither, turns stem to stern, and everyone gets pretty surly.
You can see where this makes a nice metaphor for the labor market in libraries, archives, and museums.
The talk I gave to Jean-François Blanchette’s class this month has turned out to be a twofer. I wrote earlier about the framework I have been toying with for thinking about preservation, but I was actually invited that day as a “guy who hires people”, and asked to talk about what I look for and how libraries are thinking about assembling their workforce.
Dr. Blanchette’s class had been talking about the skillset required of MLIS graduates and had read the SAA report “New Skills for a Digital Era.” I commend that report to your attention, along with AOTUS David Ferriero’s keynote and post about the competencies required in current librarians and archivists. With that sort of company, my own thoughts won’t add much except emphasis. I’ll turn the tables, instead, because I have some thought about what employers should be looking for in the new talent.