Fit for purpose?

‘The 21st century college library is a space that offers a lot more than shelves of books; the 21st century college librarian is a multitasking individual who knows how to use educational resources in both the material and online world to support students and staff in their institution.’

So states the Scottish JISC Regional Support Centres’ 2010 Enhanced Training Needs Analysis (ETNA) survey, ‘On the right track.’ ETNA  surveys involve analysis of thousands of responses from individuals (both staff and students) in every further education college in the country.  Commendably, a whole chapter of ETNA relates to the delivery of learning resources in colleges.

Acknowledging the skills and expertise of library and information professionals as ‘key to providing access to technology and resources in colleges’ ETNA recognises the specialist nature of their role in interacting with learners from across the disciplines and with ‘a wider range of abilities than would be normal for academic staff.’

The report informs us that the 21st century college librarian is likely to be fully  engaged with technology such as virtual learning environments (‘essential to their role’), wireless networks, video casting, podcasting, blogs, wikis and social networking sites.  E-books and their promotion and utilisation feature strongly too, no doubt partly due to the JISC e-books for FE initiative.

Despite the difficulties college library staff experience in getting out of college for training, there is an expressed interest in  subjects such as information literacy support, metadata tagging and also in emerging areas of college activity such as online repository management.

The strategic information ETNA provides on college library services is invaluable to SLIC and CILIPS since it informs our FE Conference planning and provision of CILIPS CPD. This report provides a starting point for future partnership work between our organisations and the JISC Regional Support Centres as well providing information which will be complementary to that soon to be collected in the first annual SLIC/JISC FE  libraries survey.

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