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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: September 2019

10 - Developing Library Staff Digital Literacies

from Part III - Developing Staff Digital Literacies



As the 21st century progresses it has become increasingly apparent that the library and information profession's role needs to adapt continually to the dynamic context caused by the impact of digitisation. The development of the profession over the last century has reacted to regular changes in circumstances and ways of thinking, so this is nothing new (Abbott, 1988). While there are some obvious important stakeholders to be considered – the individual, the employer, the professional association and the library school – there are others that have a key role to play in contributing to and supporting the development of librarians. In this chapter, we will look at a variety of these stakeholders, and explore how they are supporting librarian development, focusing on digital literacies.

We will look at some of the literature around the changing roles of librarians and consider the recent professional context. We will then examine some of the fundamental drivers in library staff development, including the recent impact of the use of digital capability as a quality measurement. This chapter will provide an overview of the landscape and offer up some ideas about how librarians can contribute to their own and their colleagues’ development of digital literacies.

A survey of UK heads of service undertaken by Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) considered and explored six main capabilities derived from the Jisc Seven Elements of Digital Literacies model: ICT/computer literacy, information literacy, media literacy, communication and collaboration, digital scholarship and learning skills (SCONUL, 2012). The survey findings demonstrated various levels of current expertise in these literacies and identified priorities in their development (Inskip, 2016) and a high level of support within the workplace for staff development, particularly with a role or sector-specific focus. Wider contributions from professional associations and library schools were considered by the participants to be of less importance than workplace delivery. This chapter builds on the SCONUL findings by exploring how digital literacies are conceived and considering the role of the librarian as a developer of these literacies in others.

Digital literacies

First of all, we need to clarify where we stand on the meaning of ‘digital literacy’ (or ‘literacies’). There has been much discussion on defining this multi-faceted terminology through the literature (e.g. Bawden, 2001; Pinto, Cordón, and Díaz, 2010; Webber and Johnston, 2017).