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Capability Framework [V1]

Supporting researcher-facing librarians to successfully deliver inside-out services and support.

Introduction

A capability framework is a tool to understand the knowledge, skills, abilities, and attributes required to work in complex and changing roles.  

The purpose of the capability framework is to provide guidance to support professional development and address the challenges faced by researcher-facing librarians and their managers grappling to introduce and sustain inside-out services. 

Learn more about the development of the framework by selecting OSF Platform on the side navigation panel.  This will open a new window.

The Purple Squirrel (or why this framework is a guide not a manual)

According to Wikipedia, the term "purple squirrel" comes from employment recruiters and describes "a job candidate with precisely the right education, set of experience, and range of qualifications that perfectly fits a job's requirements."  It is important to emphasise that the intention of the framework is not to support the hiring or training of purple squirrels.  The possibility that any single individual would have every single capability is unrealistic. Instead the framework can be used at different stages throughout the employment lifecycle as a guide for professional development, goal setting, managing team dynamics, and workforce planning.  It is first and foremost a thinking tool to support conversations about the capabilities needed to be successful.  Suggestions on how to use it include:

  • Manager: Look at the spread of capabilities in a research support team. Are there any specific gaps? Plan for filling those gaps through recruitment or professional development.
  • Librarian: Assess your capabilities against the framework.  What professional development opportunities could help grow capabilities?  
  • Trainer: What capabilities does your training session or workshop address?  Could you plan a series of workshops for librarians to build capabilities in a specific area?
  • Manager/Librarian: What are your goals for establishing/developing inside-out services?  What capabilities will be needed to successfully achieve those goals?  Think of ways you can foster and nurture them.

 

The Inside-out library

Lorcan Dempsey (2016) has coined the term “inside-out” to describe how academic libraries are increasingly supporting the processes of research at their institutions. Traditionally academic libraries have focused on bringing outside scholarship into the University through journal subscriptions, book collections, and providing access to online databases.  However, the inside-out library works to describe and disseminate the scholarship from within the University back out to the world. Libraries are digitizing collections, supporting research data sharing, managing institutional repositories, running journals on Open Journal Systems and so forth.  

Digital scholarship, changes in scholarly communication practices, advancing technology, and the growing use of bibliometrics for research evaluation are fuelling the evolution of library research support services. Researcher-facing librarians are increasingly being required to upskill and engage with the research process at deeper levels.

It should be noted that many teaching and learning activities, including building online resources using software like LibGuides, are not in this framework's scope. Instead, they belong to another service category Lorcan Dempsey calls the “Facilitated Collection”. There are however exceptions, for example Research Data Management education. The goal of this framework is not to minimise the importance of teaching and learning activities. Nor is it to minimise the importance of the work done by librarians who are not researcher-facing. However, the focus of the framework is researcher-facing librarians and “inside-out” activities.

 

 

Dempsey, L. (2016). Library collections in the life of the user: Two directions. LIBER Quarterly, 26(4), 338–359. https://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10170

Researcher-facing librarian

In the context of the framework, researcher-facing librarians work in university libraries on tasks that are primarily focused on interacting with researchers to support their research. They may be hybrid or new roles. Examples include: Subject Librarian, Reference Librarian, Information Research Specialist, Teaching and Research Librarian, Research Services Librarian/Advisor, Outreach Librarian, Liaison Librarian, Research Data Librarian, Digital Initiatives Librarian. Inside-out activities should represent a reasonable proportion of the services they offer but they may have other tasks that fall into other categories.

This first version of the capability framework can be further refined.  The capabilities are currently presented as equals.  Although some are associated with specific inside-out tasks in the "inside-out case studies" there is no systematic mapping between the capabilities and various inside-out services.  Future development will include:

  • Classifying capabilities further in order to better understand if some are more important than others and at what level of expertise.
  • More systematic mapping of capabilities to inside-out services.

To help achieve these goals five survey's have been created, one for each category in the framework. After exploring the capabilities, let us know if you agree that these are the capabilities required by researcher-facing librarians working with inside-out services, and whether some are more important than others:

 

This framework makes a distinction between competency and capability.  To learn more about how capability is defined visit the project's OSF site: https://osf.io/uhd6z/?view_only=5f2787b3b24e465da9cccc2d57df1e07

If you are seeking a competency framework, listed below are examples found during the development of this capability framework.

• ALA's Core Competences of Librarianship

• NASIG Core Competencies for Scholarly Communication Librarians

• LIS professional competency index for the higher education sector in South Africa

• Competencies for bibliometrics

• Librarians' Competencies Profile for Research Data Management

• Librarians' Competencies Profile for Scholarly Communication and Open Access

• Core Competencies for 21st Century CARL Librarians

Also consult the Competency Index for the Library Field compiled by WebJunction


To add to this list please email shiobhan.smith@otago.ac.nz

These publications have informed the thinking and/or development of this capability framework.
Auckland, M. (2012). Re­‚Äźskilling for Research. RLUK Research Libraries UK. https://www.rluk.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/RLUK-Re-skilling.pdf
Brewerton, A. (2012). Re-Skilling for Research: Investigating the Needs of Researchers and How Library Staff Can Best Support Them. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 18(1), 96-110. https://doi.org/10.1080/13614533.2012.665718
Bronstein, J. (2015). An exploration of the library and information science professional skills and personal competencies: An Israeli perspective. Library & Information Science Research, 37(2), 130-138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lisr.2015.02.003
Brown, R. A., Wolski, M., & Richardson, J. (2015). Developing new skills for research support librarians. The Australian Library Journal, 64(3), 224-234. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049670.2015.1041215
Burns, T., Brantley, S., & Duffin, K. (2015). Scholarly Communication Coaching: Liaison Librarians' Shifting Roles. In B. Eden (Ed.), The 21st Century Library: Partnerships and New Roles (Vol. 5). Littlefield and Rowman/Scarecrow Publishing. http://works.bepress.com/steve_brantley/22/
Catano, V. M., Hackett, R. D., & Wiesner, W. H. (2019). Job analysis and competency models. In Recruitment and selection in Canada (pp. 113-178). Nelson Education.
Chawner, B., & Oliver, G. (2013). A survey of New Zealand academic reference librarians: Current and future skills and competencies. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 44(1), 29-39. https://doi.org/10.1080/00048623.2013.773865
Chen, H.-l., & Zhang, Y. (2017). Educating Data Management Professionals: A Content Analysis of Job Descriptions. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 43(1), 18-24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2016.11.002
Choi, Y., & Rasmussen, E. (2009). What Qualifications and Skills are Important for Digital Librarian Positions in Academic Libraries? A Job Advertisement Analysis. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(5), 457-467.
Cox, A., Gadd, E., Petersohn, S., & Sbaffi, L. (2017). Competencies for bibliometrics. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/0961000617728111
Dahl, M. (2018). Inside-out Library Services. In Challenging the “Jacks of All Trades but Masters of None” Librarian Syndrome (pp. 15-34). Emerald Insight. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0732-067120180000039003
Decker, E. N. (2017). Encouraging continuous learning for librarians and library staff. Library Management, 38(6/7), 286-293. https://doi.org/10.1108/lm-10-2016-0078
Dempsey, L. (2016). Library collections in the life of the user: two directions. LIBER Quarterly, 26(4). https://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10170
Dhakal, K., Grigg, K. S., Lubker, I. M., & TYoung, K. L. (2017). Research skills and competencies necessary for librarians in the digital age. In J. Coghill & R. G. Russell (Eds.), Developing librarian competencies for the digital age (pp. 77-97). Rowman & Littlefield. http://site.ebrary.com/id/11297767
Ducas, A., Michaud-Oystryk, N., & Speare, M. (2020). Reinventing ourselves: new and emerging roles of academic librarians in Canadian research-intensive universities. College & Research Libraries, 81(1), 43.
Federer, L. (2018, Jul). Defining data librarianship: a survey of competencies, skills, and training. J Med Libr Assoc, 106(3), 294-303. https://doi.org/10.5195/jmla.2018.306
Finlay, C., Tsou, A., & Sugimoto, C. (2015). Scholarly Communication as a Core Competency: Prevalence, Activities, and Concepts of Scholarly Communication Librarianship as Shown Through Job Advertisements. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.1236
Gerolimos, M., & Konsta, R. (2008). Librarians' skills and qualifications in a modern informational environment. Library Management, 29(8/9), 691-699. https://doi.org/10.1108/01435120810917305
Glusker, A., & Exner, N. (2018). Responding to Change: Reinventing Librarian Identities in the Age of Research Mandates. In Challenging the “Jacks of All Trades but Masters of None” Librarian Syndrome (pp. 91-115). Emerald Insight. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0732-067120180000039007
Gonzales, B. M. (2019). Computer Programming for Librarians: A Study of Job Postings for Library Technologists. Journal of Web Librarianship, 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/19322909.2018.1534635
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Maceli, M., & Burke, J. J. (2016). Technology Skills in the Workplace: Information Professionals’ Current Use and Future Aspirations. Information Technology and Libraries, 35(4). https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v35i4.9540
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Nicholson, J., & Howard, K. (2018). A Study of Core Competencies for Supporting Roles in Engagement and Impact Assessment in Australia. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, 67(2), 131-146. https://doi.org/10.1080/24750158.2018.1473907
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