Academic Librarians at Institutions with LIS Programs Assert that Project Management Training is Valuable
AbstractA Review of:
Serrano, S. C. & Avilés, R. A. (2016). Academic librarians and project management: An international study. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 16(3), 465-475. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/pla.2016.0038
Objective – To investigate academic librarians’ project management education and training, project management skills and experiences, and perceptions of project management courses within the library and information science (LIS) curriculum.
Design – Online questionnaire.
Setting – 70 universities worldwide with LIS programs and at least one project management course.
Subjects – 4,979 academic librarians were invited to complete the online questionnaire; 649 librarians participated.
Methods – From the identified institutions, the authors invited academic librarians to participate in a 17-question survey via e-mail. The survey was available in both English and Spanish and was validated via a pilot trial. A total of 649 individuals participated, for a response rate of 13%. The survey included questions related to geographic region and institution affiliation, university education and librarian training associated with project management, project participation and use of project management software or methods, and project management courses in LIS curriculums, and a final open-ended comment section.
Main Results – Of the 649 librarians who participated in the survey, 372 were from North and South America (58%). The next highest number of responses came from Europe (38%), followed by low response rates from Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Respondents reported working in a variety of library departments and identified themselves as being one of a director or manager, assistant librarian, or library page. Of the 436 respondents who reported having a university degree, 215 attended an LIS Master’s level program, and 12 studied at the doctoral level. The majority of respondents indicated they have had training in project management, participating in formal coursework, conferences, webinars, or other self-directed learning methods. Of the 459 academic library staff responding to the question, 40% considered project management courses of “high importance in the university curriculum” and 26 % responded that project management courses were “extremely important in their field of expertise and working environment” (p. 472). The consensus among participants was that project management courses should be included in both undergraduate and graduate level LIS curricula.
Conclusion – The high participation of librarians in project management, compared to the limited formal education received, suggests that courses in project management, including software and methodology, are needed in LIS university curricula. Additionally, less than 40% of academic librarian survey respondents were trained in LIS; other professions are working as librarians and therefore may have insufficient knowledge and skills to manage the projects they direct. The research results confirm the relationship between strategic planning and project management skills. The authors conclude that universities should revise their LIS curricula to include and require additional project management courses.
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