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Information is a source of empowerment, especially in today’s society where economic success depends on the level of Information Literacy (IL). According to, Aharony and Bronstein (2014, p.103), IL is a powerful tool allowing people to effectively utilize information for the development of the society. Its incorporation in the education sector follows the particular creative skills it enhances in the students, especially through learning the usefulness of information, methods to obtain it and how to apply it. With the rise of technology, Aharony and Bronstein (2014, p.104) introduces digital literacy an information model that utilizes digital technologies. Therefore, with the changing information environment, IL becomes a fundamental competency with both the academic institutions and libraries adopting different teaching models to manage information and achieve what (Lilian & Archie, 2017, p. 264) terms as empowerment. The discussion develops through the topics academic libraries, competencies for Library Information Science (LIS), and competencies for LIS in academic libraries.

Academic Libraries

Sinha (2015, p. 1789) develops an understanding of the key roles performed by university libraries to enhance teaching and learning. Based on Sinha (2015, p. 1789), the shift in attention towards the role of academic libraries in information management follows the change in teaching-learning models to include active learning techniques. Libraries enhance learning by providing the scholar a means to supplement the classroom knowledge through availing learning materials and resources. Mandre (2015, p. 108) presents the case of increased scientific knowledge and its shift into digital media, which interprets to the availability of more digital information in the academic libraries. The rise of technology and the making of it as a major part of academic disciplines realize the transition of the academic libraries from a traditional operation system to a digital kind including the resources available. According to Mandre (2015, p. 108), the changes in academic disciplines presents a significant challenge for academic libraries where libraries need to provides digital resources to the different users. Moreover, the changes imply more responsibility to the libraries where they need to actively participate in the academic and learning sectors of the institution (Mandre 2015, p. 108).

According to Raju (2014, p. 163), the rise of technological equipment and services such as mobile phones, tablets, and digital communication channels collectively contributed to the changes in the traditional libraries. More specific is the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in realizing the change in the academic library systems. The transformation interprets to changes in the competencies of the librarians as well as those in pursuit of or already professionals in Library Information Science (LIS). Echoing the changes about the quality of the profession through the digitization of the education system is the work of Mandre (2015, p. 108) stating that the transformation requires the leaders to adjust their skills. The imperative is the ability of the involved leaders to understand the responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities surrounding the new library systems as a means to effectively manage it (Mandre 2015, p. 108).

Raju (2014, p. 164) emphasizes that despite the changes in the academic libraries, the role of preserving information and knowledge remains a key responsibility. Concerning areas relevant to knowledge and information preservation, Raju (2014, p. 164) identifies them as archiving data, connecting different subjects to facilitate knowledge and understanding, sustaining the library service, and ensuring quality and curation of digital information. To effect these functions, Raju (2014, p. 164) suggests that the digital library needs to embrace information technology with the examples of Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and Library 3.0. Yang et al. (2016, p. 1) define the Library 2.0 as a creation of Michael Casey involving a modernized form of service delivery. In particular, the model focuses on the uses engaging their input in the creation of content and developing an integrated community through information sharing. Yang et al. (2016, p. 1) recognize the importance of the Web-based technologies in realizing the digital library models. Similarly, Lilian and Archie (2017, p. 263) agrees on the importance of Web technologies such as Web 2.0 in providing new ways for information sharing for both the users and academic librarians. Much as these changes mainly impact the students or library users, it also significantly contributes to the change in skills and competency deemed fit for professionals serving the libraries (Yang et al. 2016, p. 1). According to Lilian and Archie (2017, p. 263), academic librarians need to combine both the traditional library management skills, and the digital competencies to achieve the success functioning of the academic libraries.

Competencies for LIS Professionals

Ehsan and Gholamreza (2015, p. 1018) considers competency as an output following the performance of an individual according to particular standards. Melissa (2017, p. 66) argues that although the definition of competency in LIS is continually involving, it has its main element as presenting suitable characteristics deemed fit for a particular professional. According to Ehsan and Gholamreza (2015, p. 1018), the identification of competency includes three categories of core, generic and an integration of both the generic and core competencies. Core competencies in LIS profession include skills, knowledge and personal attributes (Ehsan & Gholamreza 2015, p. 1019). Yang et al. (2016, p. 2) include the personal attributes of change management, communication, information management, leadership, and communication. Moreover, the professional needs the skills of innovation, adaptive, and flexible in managing the digital libraries in a dynamic technological environment.

Job advertisements significantly contribute to the identification of the competencies in the field (Raju, 2014, p. 164; Yang et al. 2016, 2; Shahbazi & Hedayati, 2016, p. 543). According to Raju (2014, p. 164), the advertisements point qualifications encompassing professional knowledge, generic skills, and personal skills. Concerning the professionalism in LIS, Raju (2014, p. 164), identifies technological knowledge in the fields of digital library software and architecture, coding, database management, and computer literacy. Sinha (2015, p. 1804) includes two important fields of information management skills and information professionalism which are vital for the digital age and in enhancing information literacy. Similarly, Shahbazi and Hedayati (2016, p. 543) on a study focusing on Iran identifies the skills of computer cataloging, internet searching, web designing, and library software as key requirements for the LIS professional. Comparatively, Soutter (2016, p. 46) provides the examples of interpersonal skills, foundational knowledge, leadership, collections development, IL, and information technology skills.

In identifying the competencies in LIS, Pal and Sonker (67), recognize the influence of the ICT industry on the academic libraries and its professionals. Pal and Sonker (67) establish that the introduction of Information Technology (IT) was mainly to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of the output. Moreover, as technology develops and becomes a reliable and vital component in the 21st century, the library personnel need to acquire IT skills (Laar et al. 2017, p. 578; Shahbazi & Hedayati, 2016, p. 543). As Pal and Sonker (74) provides, the staff are central to tapping the advantages of ICT and IT in managing information within the library. If the employees lack proper training about technologies, it is likely that they will offer incompetent services to the users (Pal and Sonker, p. 74). Manyonge (2015, p. 99) introduces competency-based training for the student as a contributing factor in LIS professionalism. The training aims at producing a well-versed workforce in a changing environment of education and economy. In particular, the training identifies specific elements within the occupation and directs their successful completion in attaining a competency standard (Manyonge, 2015, p. 99). Much as digital technology formulates an important competency in the LIS professional, its application requires a careful and precise study of the types of users and the information most accessed which is complex and dynamic. Moreover, Soutter (2016, p. 46) argues that research in identifying the particular competencies is uncritical, especially concerning the designs of the studies. In particular, Soutter (2016, p. 46) denies the reliance on job advertisement since it assumes that the positions are static. Moreover, the models fail to account for the future of the professional and organizational requirements. The imperative is the assumption that the particular individual performing the roles is equally good at all the identified competencies. Soutter (2016, p. 47) ideas reflect that much as a professional may exhibit the desired qualities, it does not necessarily interpret to the success of the organization. Similarly, Berg and Banks (2016, p. 470) agree on the shift from static skills in library management to adopting enhanced research methods to replace the lists of competencies in the profession.

Competencies for LIS in Academic Libraries

The understanding of competencies of LIS in academic libraries includes a study on particular libraries with an aim to provide an in-depth understanding of the topic. According to Karlene et al. (2015, p. 23) the introduction of a competency framework in the library sector functions to enhance the recruitment, training, and management processes. Karlene et al. (2015, p. 24) identify that the competency plan adopted in University of West Indies (UWI) includes four levels instructing the librarians of their expected behavior, attitudes and actions. The examples deemed suitable for UWI include strategic thinking, business acumen, flexibility, managing change, interpersonal effectiveness, decisiveness, performance management, and development of others (Karlene et al. 2015, p. 36).

According to Madrid (2013, p. 151), digital curation is an important area of concern, especially with the rise of digital libraries. In this case, the librarians in educational libraries require digital curation competencies such as software, management, content, training and support, metadata, storage and preservation, advocacy, liaison both internal and external and professional awareness and development. Comparatively, Lilian and Archie (2017, p. 264), explain on empowerment activities in the dimensions of information, knowledge, power sharing of the librarians with the users. According to Lilian and Archie (2017, p. 265), the tools of content collaboration, social benchmarking, and social networking sites provide the academic librarians with viable tools to manage information in a digital age. Therefore, the effective utilization of the tools elaborates on specific competencies on the part of the librarian.

Mary (2015, p. 462) introduces the competencies of the public library managers. According to Mary (2015, p. 466), the study focused on interviewing process to discover the core activities performed by these managers. Results of the study mention advocacy, conflict resolution, communication, flexibility and interpersonal relations as the most frequent activities performed by the managers. According to Mary (2015, p. 468), these activities identify the particular competency required of the personnel serving as a public library manager. Muhammad et al. (2016, p. 421) compare competencies from different authors to define the LIS competencies in academic libraries in Pakistan. According to the findings, the competencies encompass the areas of technical, managerial, and personal abilities. However, Muhammad et al. (2016, p. 415) agree that the design of research based on a questionnaire format fails to conclusively highlight the actual competencies in the academic libraries.

Turner (2016, p. 479) contributes to the identification of appropriate competencies in academic libraries by proving guidelines of the information development. The design includes the example of analysis, implementation, evaluation, design, and development as significant skills that the library personnel needs to acquire and exercise in ensuring the benefits to the learners. The imperative is the ability of the librarian in balancing the instructional roles with the librarian characteristics in affecting their roles (Turner, 2016, p. 480). Focusing on the digital environment of the education institutions, Rosati (2016, p. 3) present the advantages of coding for the librarians and the students. Rosati (2016, p. 3) argues that coding is a fundamental competency, particularly about its ability in teaching fundamental skills.


The investigation of the competencies in the both the LIS professional and academic libraries take various forms that represent the research design of the author. The imperative is the shift of the library environment from a traditional paradigm to a digital model following the contribution of technology such as IT and ICT disciplines. Although the study provides important examples of these competencies, most of these are dynamic in the current environment and fail to account for future changes within the institutions and society. Moreover, the reliance on job advertisement to predict these competencies fails to consider appropriate research methods that provide more accurate and desirable results. Therefore, there is need to enhance research on the topic, particular that which considers a classification system of activities, professionalism, and skills.


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