Shortage of Librarians with Language and Subject Expertise
Academic librarians are voicing concern regarding the next generation of library professionals. There has been a marked decline in new librarians with the foreign language training, in-depth subject knowledge, and advanced research skills needed to support scholarly investigation and teaching. College and university libraries require staff with language and subject expertise to select and catalog materials; scholars rely on such staff to teach advanced research skills and to facilitate both their own work and that of their students.
The Western European Studies Section (WESS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has formed a committee to address the growing shortage of academic librarians. Established in June 2004, the WESS Committee on Recruitment to the Profession seeks to promote academic librarianship as a career path for those with foreign language skills and subject expertise. It will do this by collaborating with library associations and learned societies, making presentations at conferences and on campuses, and generally disseminating information about the profession. The Committee is specifically targeting graduate students and recent PhD’s in the humanities and social sciences. Graduate training in classics, Romance languages, German, English, history, art history, and similar fields serves as an excellent foundation for work in academic libraries. The Committee will also encourage undergraduates majoring in foreign languages and related fields to explore librarianship. While WESS focuses primarily on the languages, history, and culture of Western Europe, the Committee hopes to collaborate with library specialists in related areas, such as Slavic Studies and Anglo-American Studies.
More information about the Committee’s efforts may be found on its web site: http://www.columbia.edu/~klg19/WESS/. The site addresses practical questions that graduate students and faculty advisors may have regarding a career in academic librarianship. Numerous links to online resources and references to print information are provided. Also included are toolkits for established librarians who wish to make presentations encouraging others to consider academic library careers.
Fred W. Jenkins, PhD
University of Dayton Library
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