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Tech Competencies for the 21st-Century Librarian


I'm going to go over ten basic tech competencies that we need to have, as information professionals.


The "How" Before the "What"


But I think it's important to preface this information with two strategies to improve these skills. I know that seems backward--I haven't even told you what you need to know, and I'm going to tell you how to learn it. But I've found that when I talk to my colleagues, friends, and family about new technologies, many of them have the same, instinctive reaction. They shake their head, and say, "Oh, I don't know how to do that."


Of course, not. I'm telling you about a new technology--I don't expect you to already have those skills. But that's not what they're really saying with that phrase. They are saying, "I don't think that I can learn this."


Saying that you can't learn something is one of the most effective ways to talk yourself out of learning it. But most of the things I'm going to talk about are easy, and they are quick. So the tech-skill-improving strategy that I'm going to give you is a mantra. I'm going to be talking about it in the two later sessions as well, so if you plan on coming back, you're going to hear this a lot. And that's because it's important.


Just try it.

Make time.


That's the key. That's how I went from being an English Lit and Painting major to working as a Digital Collections Librarian. I wanted to learn about technology, so I set aside all the "I can't"s in my head, and I made time, and I tried it.


Tap into the hidden strength of all librarians: our love of learning. Maybe you don't love learning about technology--but don't you love reading, researching, finding the answer to a patron's question? Tap into that.


Sure, it will be strange perhaps intimidating at first. You may have to reboot your computer or ask an IT person for advice. But I promise, short of actually setting fire to your computer, there's not much you can do that will actually blow up your computer. So try it.


10 Tech Competencies for Librarians


1) Office software skills.

    • Be able to use word processing software, spreadsheets, and give electronic presentations. Don't just know the basics, but have a website handy with shortcuts and tips--become a power user. It's a lot easier to frequently save your documents, like your IT guys tell you, if you know the CTL-S shortcut to save in Microsoft programs. There are a lot more of these kinds of shortcuts available. (copy/paste)
    • Ways to learn it:


2) File Management and Windows Explorer Skills

    • Not Internet Explorer, the internet browser: Windows Explorer, the file management system. You may know it as the "My Computer" icon.
    • Ways to learn it:


3) Basic IT Troubleshooting.

    • Rebooting vs. restarting a computer. Burning a CD / DVD.
    • Ways to learn it: Ask your IT department manager if they will organize a short training session for librarians. Explain that if they can train you all effectively to deal with smaller, more common problems, you'll be wasting less of their time in the long run when these things come up.


4) Computer-related storage devices.


5) Digital cameras and basic photo editing.












(If you're coming back for my next session after lunch, I'll be talking about what Library 2.0 is and why and how to use it.)

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