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Value: The Expert

Libraries are focusing on gathering information on value and worth and on the roles that their facilities, services and resources - including library professionals - play in the success of their constituents.

Value Content on Library Professionals

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

Littman. College, Career and Democracy ready? Not without a trained librarian. 2014.

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

The Value of Library Professionals

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:

  • the value and worth of librarians and library professionals
  • the value of "us" within organizations (other than some special environments - primarily health care)
  • the value of "us" (and how we make a difference) in the lives of our constituents
  • the value of our unique curriculum and education
  • realistic value statements on the monetary value of the profession (with specifics on where, how and how much)
  • data visualization on the professional within organizations, communities, etc.
  • a statement of benefits of having and applying unique expertise
  • convincing arguments (general or specific) on why hire a library professional (including full time vs part time, etc.)
  • consequences of not having library professionals in the organization (beyond accreditation of workforce environments which is typically "not enough)
  • consequences of not having library professionals with up-to-date professional development

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:

  • a review of the literatuere of the value and worth of libraries
  • an extrapolation of content with the literature that pertains to librarians and library professionals
  • connecting the dots between and among librarians and what IS identified as having value in libraries
  • identifying and using terminology that illustrates the links between facilities, resources and services and the experts that build and deliver them
  • a focus on library professionals by branding them as experts in their profession
  • marketing the expertise of library professional alongside the value data of libraries and information centers and their resources and services
  • educating constituents by "looking below the hood" at required competencies, levels of education, ongoing continuing education

and

  • integrating these data with the perceptions of importance and the intrinsic value placed on these professionals in existing and ongoing research

 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."

Todaro Initiative

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.

Todaro Initiative Products by Area

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.

  • the value of "us" within organizations
    • General statements of the value of the professional by type of library
    • One general statement (by Initiative Steering Committee using overall content) of the value of the expert within the profession
  • the value of "us" within organizations
    • An articulation of the value of the professional within the organization or environment (most of these exist in some way such as the role of the academic librarian in the academy, the role of the school librarian in the organizaiton, the role of the public librarian in the community, the role of the special librarian in the business or in the business model....this content needs to be reviewed and morphed to be a value statement as well)
  • the value of "us" (and how we make a difference) in the lives of our constituents
    • An explanation of how having a professional make a difference to constituents? Example: why have a doctor when you have nurses or PA's. What value does a professional bring to constituents?
  • the value of our unique curriculum and education
    • A document outlining how our professions require educational creedentials and ongoing continuing education to stay current with their profession AND what differences education and training make? We can't "prove" what is needed but we can create a statement of the need for education, the need for ongoing c.e., etc.
  • realistic value statements on the monetary value of being in profession (with specifics on where, how and how much)
    • Standard content on what we do/what we earn as a professional over a lifetime with a focus on what ELSE we have in terms of benefits...intrinsic, flexiblity, lifetime guided pathways, levels of satisfaction, benefits statement on holidays, retirement, organizational climate, etc.
  • data visualization on the professional within organizations, communities, etc.
    • Data visualizations and info graphics on what we do and who we are. What's out there now? What are the best by type of library? Do we need them by functional area? How do you use info graphics to represent activities, speak to funders, recruit other professionals? Educate umbrella environments? How do we capture visually the OPPOSITE of "reading all day" or "playing on the computer?"
  • benefits of having unique expertise
    • Articulated competency sets by type of library with baseline, then unique skills needed. There are many skills sets out there, which are good? Which are current by type of librarian? How do competency sets illustrate worth?
  • convincing arguments (general or specific) on why hire a library professional (including full time vs part time, etc.)
    • Paradigm shifts illustrating the old to the new professional, the differences between status or levels or full time vs. part time
  • consequences of not having library professionals in the organization (beyond accreditation of workforce environments which is typically "not enough
    • Illustrating direct relationships between the business of the umbrella organization and the absence of the professional...what standards aren't met, what standards should there be?
  • consequences of not having library professionals with up-to-date professional development and continuing education
    • examples of knowledge-based decision making on business decisions and where that knowledge can be "found"

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