While I am hopeful that there IS the beginnings of a body of work on the value and worth of library professionals, I haven't found it all yet. What we DO have the most of, can be found in small segments in the body of reports on the value of different types of libraries, specifically the value of special librarians (primarly health care and business) and the value of a librarian in a school, specifically the classroom (primarily k-12.) There is a growing body of literature as well on how we "make a difference" but with very little data.
There is an additional, growing body of content on "what a 21st century librarian does; the individual professional IN the profession with an exciting focus on traditional and non-traditional stereotypes, and this "new" professional with the link of what we do is "cool" and we are "cool" too. Other content in the professional literature for review presents the tenets of being a professional, requsite and recommended education, training and credentialing for the professional, a variety of competency sets, recommended curriculum for achieving the vareity of levels of education, professional development and continuing education as well as a number of studies where survey research of constituents and administrators of umbrella organizations of libraries provide data on the perception of importance as well as the instrinsic value of the professional.
Libraries and information environments - on the other hand - have MANY studies of value and impact, and a growing number of them include information on the roles and responsibilities of professionals within those environments. So, we all know that first steps begin with a review of what IS out there. Watch this growing list of documents (classic or timeliness as well as current) on topic.
IMLS. Learning in Libraries. IMLS Focus. 2015
Plutchak, T. Scott. Determining Value. J Med Libr Assoc. 2002 Jul; 90(3): 273–275.
Shamel. Building a Brand? Not Without a Librarian. 2001.
Sollenberger. "The Evolving Role of Libraries and Librarians in Health Care." JAMA. 2013
It is generally agreed that it is very hard to illustrate the economic value, the worth and the impact a professional brings to the organization, institution, community, business, etc. In fact, it is especially hard to identify value of professionals in non-profit or service environments, where constituents are "well or expertly served" but the service is funded as a not-for-profit or non-profit thus seemingly free or low fee in general and - often - less valued overall. Specifically, what we don't have or have very little of includes:
and I could go on, but I won't ...instead it's time to expand the work on focusing on people and the expertise it takes to manage library facilities, and the resources and services in library today. Scholarly materials, institutional repositories, destination buildings, infant story times, information literacy/instruction classes in using e-devices to download e-books, immigrant services, assistance for business start ups for community entrepreneurs, financial wellness materials, and parent programs on lifelong learning (to name just a few of the thousands of services out there) don't just "happen." Library professionals make it happen.
So what is to be done? A roadmap might be:
My ALA Presidential initiative is rather simple and summed up in a sentence I used as the cornerstone of my campaign
"we can design and build the best library environment, assemble the perfect resources, make the resources accessible and create services for the breadth of clientele, but the most important element is the expertise within these structures and processes...the expertise that connects the constituents to what they want and need."
My primary focus in my campaign was a focus on people. My initiative focus will be led by my statement "we can design and build the best library environment, assemble the perfect resources, make the resources accessible and create services for the breadth of clientele, but the most important element is the expertise within these structures and processes...the expertise that connects the constituents to what they want and need.
This list should be considered a basic list of products needed in general, then products will be created by type of library and by some functional areas such as "Technical Services" professional. Templates will be chosen to aid in formatting and easy review.