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Desperately Seeking an ERM Librarian

Date: Wed 16 Jan 2019

Class, this week we read two articles that analyze electronic resource librarian job advertisements in order to provide an understanding of how the job has changed over the years.

Although these articles were published a handful of years ago and will likely someday be of historical interest, since they do an interesting job of capturing the ER job description, I wouldn't call them dated. It's true that the technology has advanced since, but their most recent descriptions of ER jobs are still pretty on the mark.

That said, times change. One of the biggest changes since 2012, when Harnett's data ends, is that more technology has moved to the cloud and less of it resides on on-site servers. This will have important implications. One of those implications is that libraries will (and this is a hypothesis) require less local IT skill sets on hand because the work of installing, maintaining, and updating the software will reside on remote systems that are hosted by the vendors instead of on on-site systems. This isn't necessarily a good or bad thing. It could mean (and this is another hypothesis) more work in other on-site areas where that work requires a different sort of advanced skill sets. Specifically, hosted means that the software isn't purchased but leased, and leasing involves repeated negotiations. Thus, the kind of work that may increase, as more software is hosted on the cloud, might be the kind of work that requires strong communication skills, strong negotiating skills, a good understanding of how licensing works, as more is licensed, and like.

Even though IT continues to be outsourced, this doesn't mean that we can become lax in our understanding of how the technology works -- that which requires a thorough understanding of the electronic in electronic resources -- just as we can't become lax in how librarianship works even though librarians answer fewer basic reference questions than they did in previous years. What I mean is that -- in order to communicate this topic well, to negotiate well, and to sign licenses that are beneficial to our stakeholders, it still helps to understand and to be adept at the tech so that we aren't bamboozled in those negotiations. Also, if something goes wrong, like with the link resolver technology, we have to learn how to identify the likely culprit; that is, that it is the link resolver technology and not something else, like the OPAC technology.

This week I want you to think about these job advertisement studies in relation to what you know now about electronic resources as well as in relation to the kinds of advertisements you've seen. By the time this lecture is released you may have seen some ads sent on the SERIALST mailing list that I've asked you to subscribe to this semester -- in case none have been forwarded while you've been subscribed, I'll share some that I've seen. Some of you may be graduating soon and are likely looking for employment. If so, feel free to comment on your experience with such advertisements. In essence, think about where you see yourself in these advertisements and how they impact you.

Although you've only learned about a lot of these technologies abstractly, that is, most of you haven't had a chance to learn the back ends, that doesn't disqualify you from this exercise. You've gathered enough of abstract knowledge to know enough, and when you add that with your front end knowledge (that is, your use of these technologies as students, users, etc.), you have enough to be capable of adding some self-context. In short, this is the second part of our exercise in self-reflection; it's an attempt to flush out how we have internalized the information we've learned this semester and convert it into knowledge that we can use as librarians or as information professionals, writ-large. Just a hint of what's to come in the future, I'm attempting to install our own electronic resource management software for us to explore and test. More on that in coming weeks.

We'll soon move away from reflective questions and get our hands dirty with specific technologies, licensing, etc., but for now let's think about the following:

  • Where do you think you stand in comparison to ERM job ads?
    • Where are you strong?
    • Where would you like to improve?
  • What can you (and we, as a course community) do to help each of you get there?
    • What's your path?
    • What can you practice?
teaching/desperately-seeking-an-erm-librarian.txt · Last modified: 2019/02/11 15:31 by seanburns