An introductory guide to library technologies, now in its fourth edition!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Survey Results: Technology Skills for Librarians and Library Staff

In March 2012, I revised my 2009 web survey on technology skills in libraries (the questions used in the survey are available here). Respondents were solicited from 24 electronic discussion groups which covered multiple library types as well as a diverse range of specialties or areas of focus in libraries. Over the two week period that the survey was available, 2075 individuals responded.

The respondents are not a perfect cross-section of library staff from all types of libraries. 64% work in academic libraries, 20% in public libraries, 9% in school libraries, and 7% in special libraries. In terms of education, just under 80% listed an MLS degree, other masters degree, or other graduate work as their highest level of education. I asked respondents to indicate which task areas they perform on a regular basis (listed below with the percentage of the total respondents who chose each task).  Public services-related tasks were particularly well-represented. 

Reference - 66.0
Instruction - 62.7
Collection development - 57.3
Circulation - 38.1
Cataloging - 37.7
Library/IT systems - 35.5
Marketing/public relations - 34.1
Library administration - 33.8
Outreach - 33.2
Acquisitions - 31.0
Periodicals/serials - 27.7
Media/audiovisuals - 26.7
Distance library services - 22.4
Interlibrary loan - 22.0
Archives/special collections - 14.4
Other - 12.7

19% of respondents have worked for five or fewer years, 20% between six and ten years, 30% between eleven and twenty years, and 31% for twenty-one or more years.

Respondents were asked to select from a list the technologies or technology skills that they used on a regular basis in their jobs. The ten most common ones, with the percentage of respondents who selected them, were:

E-mail - 97.6
Word processing - 94.1
Using a Web browser - 93.6
Web searching - 93.6
Searching library databases - 91.8
Spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel, etc.) - 85.3
Library catalog (public side) - 84.4
Public or staff printers - 80.1
Teaching others to use technology - 80.0
Presentation software (Microsoft PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.) - 75.1

The remaining items in the list of technologies showed a great diversity of skills on hand, including "troubleshooting technology" (at 65.6%) and "Google Docs" (at 49.4, that I thought would beat out "fax machine" (50.1)). "Making technology purchase decisions", at 38.5%, indicated to me that these decisions are not being made widely throughout organizations, but this role appears to reach beyond the percentage of respondents indicating their primary duties as administrative.

I asked respondents "what technology skill could you learn to help ou do your job better?" While the responses were all over the map, the most common ones involved programming, coding, web design, and network management. 

I also asked them "what technology or technology skill would you most like to see added to your library?"   Adjectives often repeated were "mobile" and "social".  Also mentioned was the need for more staff to deal with already plentiful technologies.

More details from the survey are available in the 4th edition of my book, which is just out. I hope these results are of interest and advance our collective understanding of what skills and competencies are widely present and/or required in libraries. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have on the survey.

1 comment:

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