Emerging technology librarian

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  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, September 2018


See also Digital liaison | EBooks | Social media landscape | Teaching library users | Top Ten (10) Social Media Competencies for Information Professionals

What do emerging technology librarians do?

The emerging technologies librarian job title made the rounds in academic libraries in 2014-206 and is still somewhat popular in the United States. Emerging tech librarians are generally employed in academic libraries but can be found in several kinds of libraries. The position title is not yet in wide use in Canada but the evidence suggests it is catching on in various organizations. Some difficulties arise with the position itself, especially where it lacks a concrete definition or is insufficiently described. In 2010, LITA hosted a discussion of emerging technologies and tried to define the position as a professional librarian whose "...main role is to explore, evaluate, promote, and implement various emerging technologies".

Required skills for emerging technologies positions

From a cursory evaluation of various position descriptions for ETLs, the following skills were mentioned as required:

  • ETLs provide technological know-how in public service environments
  • Explore emerging technologies for current awareness and application in library settings (for user groups, and staff)
  • Explore, develop, promote, and assess technologies including social media and other services
  • Teach orientations, course-integrated instruction and workshops about information, mobile technologies, social media & collaboration tools
  • Create learning modules to support information literacy, reference and web-based library programs using new technologies
  • Apply instructional design principles to library teaching, in online and face-to-face environments
  • Deliver innovative and adventurous services as technologies are accepted, and new ways are found to use them
  • Research a range of social tools, such as social networking, blogs, wikis, eLearning software and open content
  • Manage the library's use of social media and build its identity accordingly
  • Build web development skills such as PHP, Javascript, XML, and SQL
  • Demonstrate leadership regarding innovative, emerging technology-based services
  • Create, promote and facilitate the use of electronic resources and services
  • Work effectively and collaboratively; take initiative, or be self-directed, as needed; be committed to innovation and creativity
  • Speak about emerging technologies with others at all skill levels

ETLs are increasingly important as libraries struggle to stay current with and make sense of the sheer number of emerging technologies. There is a dire need for tech-savvy librarians who can identify, evaluate, and implement new technologies that can benefit librarians and users alike.

Other skills

  • Maintain awareness of emerging and evolving technologies and tools for library and information management, educational technology and higher education via research, professional literature, online resources, professional development activities and personal networking
  • Evaluate emerging technologies for library and information management and educational technology to determine relevance to library staff and campus community
  • work with IT to ensure consistency and conformity with the technical architecture of systems
  • Review and advise staff, students and campus community of the uses, likely impact and strategic value of relevant technologies, tools and practices
  • Initiate, design and provide effective training for staff, students and faculty via workshops, presentations, lectures, tutorials, one-on-one instruction, online tutorials and other methods
  • Initiate, design and coordinate experimental implementations of potential and emerging services using new technologies
  • Evaluate and advise of possible production-level projects using new technologies.

Emerging technology librarians in Canada

  • “Emerging technologies: Identify, evaluate, and implement the application of current and emerging technologies for use in the Library's reference and instruction services, such as instant messaging, social networking, content management systems, mobile computing, open source, open content, and other digital capabilities. Working with the Systems Librarian, support the Library's web initiatives using the most up-to-date web design and web applications technology. Collaborate with other librarians to develop and test new instruction and information support tools. Share with Library colleagues strategies, techniques, and best practices for using emerging technologies to support teaching and learning. Promote and support usability testing and assessment of new and existing services.”


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