Educating Assessors: Preparing Librarians with Micro and Macro Skills
Keywords:Evaluation. Continuing Education. Education.
Objective – To examine the fit between libraries’ needs for evaluation skills, and library education and professional development opportunities. Many library position descriptions and many areas of library science education focus on professional skills and activities, such as delivering information literacy, designing programs, and managing resources. Only some positions, some parts of positions, and some areas of education specifically address assessment/evaluation skills. The growth of the Library Assessment Conference, the establishment of the ARL-ASSESS listserv, and other evidence indicates that assessment skills are increasingly important.
Method – Four bodies of evidence were examined for the prevalence of assessment needs and assessment education: the American Library Association core competencies; job ads from large public and academic libraries; professional development courses and sessions offered by American Library Association (ALA) divisions and state library associations; and course requirements contained in ALA-accredited Masters of Library Science (MLS) programs.
Results – While one-third of job postings made some mention of evaluation responsibilities, less than 10% of conference or continuing education offerings addressed assessment skills. In addition, management as a topic is a widespread requirement in MLS programs (78%), while research (58%) and assessment (15%) far less common.
Conclusions – Overall, there seems to be more need for assessment/evaluation skills than there are structured offerings to educate people in developing those skills. In addition, roles are changing: some of the most professional-level activities of graduate-degreed librarians involve planning, education, and assessment. MLS students need to understand that these macro skills are essential to leadership, and current librarians need opportunities to add to their skill sets.
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