Brian Kenney on Core Competencies

Did you know ALA was publishing the “Core Competencies of Librarianship?” Brian Kenney writes:

Although the guidelines were presented at a public meeting, I don’t think this document is widely available, but you could try searching The document is predictably conservative—in the sense of preserving what exists—and covers what you’d imagine: the foundation of our profession, information resources, organization, technical knowledge, reference and user services, research, continuing education, and administration.

Likely the intent was to give ALA’s Committee on Accreditation, which accredits master’s programs in library and information science, a little more teeth—perhaps necessary in dealing with those “i-schools” where “i” (information) is thought to trump “l” (libraries) in the curriculum. If your university wants to offer an ALA-accredited degree, the document is saying, then students need to acquire the knowledge and skills of a beginning generalist librarian, whether they want them or not.

What’s interesting is what’s missing from this definition of a generalist librarian: any mention of school librarianship or youth services. The committee will argue that these are specializations, and, of course, they’re right. But let’s face it, if you don’t actually mention children’s services, then the default in library education will always be adult services. And the “Core Competences” even favors adult services by elevating “the role of the library in lifelong learning… and the use of lifelong learning in the promotion of library services.”

I am interested to read the document. It concerns me as well that the focus is on adult services. In recent discussions in class and at conferences about the Mishawaka Library ban on Facebook and MySpace, my though keep coming back to the fact that Teen or YA Librarian could be one of the most important jobs we prepare new grads to take on.