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Education for Information 20 (2002) 27–43 27
Competencies needed for future academic librarians in
Department of Library & Information Science, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan
Received 11 June 2001
Revised 3 August 2001
The changing environment of academic libraries in Pakistan demands new competencies for future
academic librarians. This study deﬁnes and validates competencies for entry-level professionals keeping
in view the needs of the next ﬁve years. Top-level library managers of selected universities and post-
graduate level colleges participated in the study. A scale of perceived importance of each competency
was used for validation of competencies organized in six categories: management, resource development,
technical service, reference & information services, information technology and general. A distinct
preference is noted for information technology competencies. A signiﬁcant overlap between the opinion
of public and private sector librarians is also observed. The validated competencies can be used for the
evaluation and revision of the curricula of formal education programs.
With a growth of 100 to 200 percent during the last 20 years, presently there
are 43 universities and about 1600 general, professional and vocational colleges in
Pakistan . A library with professionally qualiﬁed staff is a legal requirement for
establishment as an educational institution. Therefore, each university or college,
both in the public and private sectors, has a library with the necessary facilities
and at least one qualiﬁed librarian. Post-graduate (a post-bachelor one or two year
qualiﬁcation) library and information science education is a pre-requisite for the
position of librarian throughout the country. Academic libraries appear to be the
primary consumer of graduates of library and information science departments in
the seven universities that offer education in the ﬁeld. These seven universities,
Iqbal Open University has started its MLIS program through distance education
in Spring 2001), and most of them call their ﬁrst year program a postgraduate
diploma/bachelor’sdegreein library and informationscience. The estimated number
of annual graduates is in the range of 250 to 300.
0167-8329/01/$8.00 2002 – IOS Press. All rights reserved
28 K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan
2. Changing environment of academic libraries in Pakistan
In the last two decades, academic libraries throughout the world are undergoing
great change. Pakistan is no exception. The most revolutionary change libraries face
is the speedily growing information and communication technology. In a country
with a very low per capita income of $480, which is not even sufﬁcient to survive,
the use of information technology is increasing rapidly. The growth rate in the use
of personal computers is 30 percent per year while the annual growth rate of the use
of the Internet in Pakistan is 60 percent . In Pakistan, the ISPs started to provide
Internet services in 1996. Now there are 122 ISPs in the country. By 2000, there
were 250,000 Internet subscribers in Pakistan .
Although, according to a survey, educational and research institutions in Pakistan
ranked last in using computers , the government is taking special interest in this
matter. It has started to implement its new IT policy. The major points of this policy,
applicable to academic institutions, include: 1) Provision of free leased line Internet
access to the public-sector universities; 2) establishment of a wide-band Intranet, the
Pakistan Educational Intranet (PEI) consisting of all public and private educational
institutions, for sharing teaching and research resources; 3) establishment of IT
labs at major public and private sector universities, colleges, government training
institutes and schools; and 4) inclusion of a compulsory course on IT in programs in
all subjects .
According to a survey, 26% of the university libraries in Pakistan were using
technology in their housekeeping routines . Another survey revealed that half
the university libraries in Pakistan were using the Internet . Although the new
kinds of information technologies such as computer, multimedia and CD-ROM are
bringing unprecedented opportunitiesto Pakistani libraries, these same technologies
are also bringing greater responsibility to current library staff. The automation and
networking of libraries demand a group of librarians with some command of the
software and hardware aspects of information technology.
Economic recession is another problem facedby academic libraries throughoutthe
developing world. The federal and provincial governments are the major fundersof
tertiary education in Pakistan. Academic libraries have never been properly ﬁnanced.
Lack of staff, lack of updated reading material and lack of other facilities are the
common problems among academic libraries. To gain their share in the parent
institution’s meager budgets, libraries have to compete with other academic units.
With decreasing budgets, accountability is increasing.
Good governance is also a problem for all public sector organizations including
educational ones. Government institutions are victims of corruption, sluggishness,
red tape and nepotism exercised by the bureaucracy . Keeping in view their poor
performance, the government has started to privatize public sector organizations.
The government found decentralization of public institutions another alternative to
achieve good governance . A number of large educational institutions have been
given administrative autonomy. To overcome the problem of poor quality education,
K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan 29
the recent education policies have recommended private/industrial participation in
the decision-making processes of public sector educational institutions .
On the recommendation of the IMF and the World Bank, and to put the country’s
economy back on track, the Pakistan governmenthas started a massive downsizing in
public sector organizations. Starting with ﬁnancial institutions this policy is rapidly
spreading to all ministries and departments. The government has planned to get rid
of an estimated 200,000 employees . To cope with the ﬁnancial pressure, the
government compelseducationalinstitutions to becomeself-reliant. The government
has allowed public sector universities to raise their fees at the rate of ten percentevery
year. Moreover, they are allowed to offer ten percent admissions on a self-ﬁnance
basis. This is also a step towards privatization of public sector institutions.
The growing education industry in the private sector is another issue librarianship
is facing. In the 1990s, a large number of universities and colleges were opened in
the private sector. The government has planned to shift the public-private ratio of
higher education institutions from 85:15 to 60:40 by 2010 . Moreover, foreign
universities have established their campuses at various big cities in the country. This
growing education industry demands a large LIS work force competent enough to
fulﬁll the client’s needs in a changing informationenvironment.
3. Competencies for library and information professionals: A literature review
According to Corbin, the deﬁnition of competency is controversial. In earlier
times (a decade or so ago), competence was considered in terms of the personal
characteristics one had; competence was judged on the basis of the quality of one’s
character, virtue, innate abilities, and underlying attributes . Today, however,
competence is considered more in terms of skill-oriented behavior and observable
actions measured against quantitative standards; competence is judged on the basis
of whether or not learned mental and physical tasks can be performed. Current
thinking, however, asserts that competencycan be taught and measured. One current
deﬁnition is that competency is havingthe capacity, skills, and knowledgeto function
in a particular way; another is that competency is what a person knows; while still
another is that competency is evidence that one can produce desirable outcomes .
The Council of Europe deﬁned competency as “the set of knowledge and skills that
enable an employee to orient easily in a working ﬁeld and to solve problems that are
linked with their professional role” . The literature of library and information
science is full of studies on competencies needed for various types of librarians. A
number of competency lists are available.
The guidelines from the International Federation of LibraryAssociations and Or-
mendedthat thecoreelementsinaLIScurriculumshouldinclude: 1) Theinformation
environment, information policy and ethics, the history of the ﬁeld; 2) Information
generation, communication and use; 3) Assessing information needs and designing
30 K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan
responsive services; 4) The information transfer process; 5) Organization, retrieval,
preservation and conservationof information; 6) Research, analysis and interpreta-
tion of information; 7) Applications of information and communication technologies
to library and information products and services; 8) Information resource manage-
ment and knowledge management; 9) Management of information agencies; and
10) Quantitative and qualitative evaluation of outcomes of information and library
The American Library Association’s Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Pro-
grams in Library and Information Studies described the curriculumas encompassing
information and knowledge creation, communication, identiﬁcation, selection, ac-
quisition, organization and description, storage and retrieval, preservation, analysis,
interpretation, evaluation, synthesis, dissemination, and management . In a
congress on professional education, the American Library Association resolved that
the core of librarianship includes: information access skills; the ability to deal with
information technology; communication skills; management skills; and the ability to
deal with change .
The Association of College and Research Libraries recommended that library
schools should train graduates in the theory,principles, and history of librarianship;
in-depth knowledge of the higher education environment; preparation for scholarly
work; understanding technologicalissues; conductinginformationliteracy programs;
planning and management; assessing library effectiveness; knowledge of legal and
policy issues; consideration of ethical issues; and understanding and appreciation of
diversity . The Library & Information Technology Association recommended
technologies in libraries and communication with users .
Some state library associations in North America have developed their own lists
of required competencies. The California Library Association adopted a list of
core competencies for its member librarians including professional competencies
(customer-centered, assessment, organizational skills, knowledge of information
sources, information management, advocacy, collaboration, political awareness, ad-
ethics, vision, communication, and self-motivation) . The New Jersey Library
Association (NJLA) adopted an updated version of competencies designed by the
Canadian Library Association and the Special Libraries Association. Technical
competencies designed by the NJLA include online catalogs; electronic resources
and databases, Internet; instruction; e-mail; applications software; computer trou-
bleshooting/preventive maintenance; and awareness of evolving technology .
The New Hampshire Library Association classiﬁed its list of core competencies into
philosophies and ethics; personal attributes; administration; collection management;
public services; technical services; and technology . Yale University Library
has set core competencies for future job performanceof its staff, covering ﬁve areas:
resources, interpersonal skills, information, systems, and technology .
K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan 31
The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries prepareda list of competen-
cies required for research librarians. The major issues covered are: developing and
managing effective services that meet user needs and support the research library’s
mission; supporting cooperation andcollaborationto enhance service; understanding
the library within the context of higher education and the needs of students, fac-
ulty, and researchers; knowing the structure, organization, creation, management,
dissemination, use, and preservation of information resources, new and existing, in
all formats; and demonstrating commitment to the values and principles of librarian-
The Special Library Association recommended competencies for future special
librarians that are equally useful for academic librarians working in professional
institutions. They include: 1) Professional competencies related to the special li-
brarian’s knowledge in the areas of information resources, information access, tech-
nology, management and research, and the ability to use these areas of knowledge
as a basis for providing library and information services; and 2) Personal competen-
cies representing a set of skills, attitudes and values that enable librarians to work
efﬁciently; be good communicators; focus on continuing learning throughout their
careers; demonstrate the value-addednature of their contributions;and survivein the
new world of work .
Corbin classiﬁed competencies required for providing electronic information ser-
vices into personal characteristics, basic skills, general knowledge, and specialized
knowledge . Koenig noted that the information industry was seeking candidates
who not only have the requisite technical and operational skills, but also possess the
language skills, interpersonal and communication skills, and the breadth of back-
ground and knowledge that allow them to operate effectively in the new international
marketplace. Library and information education programs must consciously prepare
themselves to educate students to work in the marketplace .
Morgan grouped competencies future academic librarians should possess, in ad-
dition to core library skills, into four areas: credibility with academic staff; teaching
and training; IT-related skills; and management skills . Buttlar and Du Mont
asked 736 alumni of library schools what competencies were most valuable in their
professional lives. The ﬁve competencies most highly rated by academic librarians
in the sample were: Knowledge of sources in all formats; Conducting an appropriate
reference interview; Applying critical thinking to library problems; Communicating
effectivelyinwriting;and Utilizing oral presentation skills to make presentations.
In a focus group, twenty-ﬁve students, LIS faculty, and academic librarians deter-
mined the role of academic librarians as informationprofessionals. They must: 1) Be
good communicators, 2) Use good judgment to determine what kind of information
and how much information each client needs, and 3) Either serve as or construct a
“bridge” linking the information and the user . Woodsworth emphasized that
nowadays every professional must be equipped with Internet skills and evaluation
skills, and be familiar with the basics of computing, networking and information
science concepts. Professionals also need to develop competency for leading change
32 K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan
within their organizations and to develop a systems approach for reassessment of
their roles and reexamination of their values .
According to Grifﬁths, new information professionals should: guide in the face
of an uncertain future; collaborate; prioritize and maintain agility and ﬂexibility in
the face of changing goals; empower; and understand the core capabilities of one’s
organization, work group and colleagues . Bates listed skills an MLS degree
holder should possess. Her list includes basic librarian skills; proﬁciency in the
traditional online services; Internet skills; selection and use of information sources;
value-added services; teaching skills; working in teams; marketing library services;
entrepreneurship; leadership skills; change management; and innovation . In an
American Libraries article, Intner provided a list of characteristics of future good
professionals. According to her, a new kind of good professional who will be effec-
tive in the 21st century will be someone who: gets the most patron service for the
library’s buck, meets deadlines, acts objectively, shoulders responsibility, keeps an
open mind, welcomes learning from others, seeks new ideas, reads widely, wants to
experiment, empowers staff, and inspires trust . While discussing the prepara-
tion of information professionals for the next century, Stueart recommended that, in
addition to basic professional skills, such as cataloging, reference and bibliographic
searching, there should be information-related skills. These may include: informa-
tion and referral services; information seeking behavior; information systems; and
standards and standardization .
Giesecke and McNeil provided a list of core competencies for university librar-
ians. This includes: analytical skills/problem solving/decision making; commu-
nication skills; creativity/innovation; expertise and technical knowledge; ﬂexibil-
ity/adaptability; interpersonal/group skills; leadership; organizational understanding
and global thinking; ownership/accountability/dependability; planning and organi-
zational skills; resource management; and service attitude/user satisfaction .
Bonnice recommended a mandatory internship (practicum) for MLIS students .
In a survey of the course contents of 44 MLIS programs accredited by the Amer-
ican Library Association, Beheshti found that the main knowledge and skill-based
competencies taught were: technology management; organization of information;
and research; sociocultural aspects; non-print media; rare materials and conserva-
tion; sources of information; reference materials; archives; children’s literature and
services; and professional issues .
In a survey, Thomas determined computer skills required by academic librari-
ans. Searching OPAC and searching Web interface databases were the most highly
demanded skills of entry-level academic librarians . Weir suggested that, in ad-
dition to the traditional library skills, future information professional should posses
the following skills: adaptability; creativity; willingness to take risks; self-starting;
project management; change management; interpersonal and communications skills;
and a sense of humor .
K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan 33
In a recent article, Curran listed tasks librarians and information scientists do.
These include acquisition, classiﬁcation, organization, storage, retrieval, interpreta-
tion, dissemination and use of information . Park and O’Connor emphasized the
need of research methods as a core competency for LIS programs .
In the Asia/Paciﬁc region, we can also ﬁnd works dealing with needed compe-
tencies. Rehman, Majid and Baker interviewed 60 top and middle level managers
of academic libraries in Malaysia to validate a list of competencies (knowledge and
skills) required of entry level academic librarians. They divided the list into six
operational areas: foundation, cataloguing, circulation, information services, collec-
tion development, and serials . According to Rehman, Baker and Majid, middle
and top managers of the large libraries of Malaysia perceived that inadequacyin IT
skills was the most deﬁcient area in Malaysian librarians . Rehman, Chaudhry
and Karim carried out a survey to see if there were signiﬁcant differences between
competencies accepted at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Senior library
managers (50 total respondents; 41 working in academic libraries) in the Arabian
Gulf region identiﬁed 48 higher level competencies (performance evaluation, policy
development, designing databases, planning for automation) out of a total of 70 –
the remainder not being signiﬁcantly different for either level, except for ‘acquir-
ing materials’ that was favored at the undergraduatelevel. The competencies were
classiﬁed into six functional areas: management; information technology; resource
development; information service; technical service; and general competencies .
Keeping in view the needs of the Asia-Paciﬁc region, Moore et al prepared a de-
tailed curriculum for information education. They covered three elements – knowl-
edge, skills and tools – for the creation, collection, communication and consolidation
of information . A recent survey of library graduates in Australia, conducted by
Middleton, identiﬁed 189 skills grouped into nine categories: collection building and
management; communication; facilities and equipment; information organization;
information services; information systems; management; marketing; and research.
The ﬁndings show that seven of the top ten ranked skills were in the information
service category .
In Pakistan, no study has been conducted about the competencies needed of li-
brarians. However, an analysis of recent job advertisements of academic librarians,
particularly in the private sector, shows that competencies mostly needed consisted
of managing automation of libraries, using electronic databases, having knowledge
about library software packages, using the Internet, and having good interpersonal
4. Methodology of the study
Rehman et al.  emphasized the need for a study on needed competencies in
34 K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan
Competence identiﬁcation and validation processes provide an objective frame-
work for the design of education and training programmes. They also provide
guidelines for determining appropriate educational and training levels for intake
and graduation. Education and training programmes can be evaluated against
validated sets of competencies. In this context, competencies provide a sound
base for manpower planning in a given ﬁeld (p. 384).
Naylor mentioned eight advantages of developing and improving core competen-
cies in libraries: better human resource planning; more effective training programs;
a list of critical technological capabilities; an opportunity for a strength-weakness
analysis; help with outsourcing options; guidance for development or change; vision
of the whole organization; and innovation . According to Ceppos, failure to
consider market demand was one of the reasons for libraryschool closures in North
America . In Pakistan, the LIS curriculum has always been criticized as it has
been implemented without any feedback from the library community .
The present study was conducted with the following objectives:
1. To prepare a list of competencies needed by entry-level academic librarians.
2. To validate the list of competencies based on the perceptions of top-level
academic library managers in Pakistan.
To achieve the objectives of this study, it was decided to conduct a postal survey of
senioracademiclibrarians. Forthispurposealistof 150universitiesandpostgraduate
level colleges/institutes was prepared using the latest available directories [49–51].
A list of 75 competencies was prepared based on an extensiveliterature review. Spe-
cial attention was given to those competencies that were already validated in Asian
countries (i.e., Malaysia and the Arabian Gulf region). This list was divided into six
categories: 1) Management Competencies; 2)ResourceDevelopment Competencies;
3) Technical Service Competencies; 4) Reference and Information Services Com-
petencies; 5) Information Technology Competencies; and 6) General Competencies.
Chief librarians of selected institutions were asked to indicate the competencies a
holder of an MLIS degree should possess, keeping in view the needs of academic
libraries in Pakistan during the next ﬁve years. Perceptions of the respondents were
identiﬁedusinga scale of 1–9,where1wasfor“not needed” and 9 for “mostneeded”.
For validation purpose,the scale value 5 was ﬁxed as the cut-off point, meaning that
a competency would be considered ‘needed’ if it received an average score greater
For validation, the questionnaire (list of competency statements) was sent to 150
heads of university and postgraduate-level college libraries. In spite of a reminder,
only seventy-twolibrarians (48%) respondedto the survey. Seventy usable responses
K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan 35
Top ten competencies
Rank Category Competency Mean
1 Info Tech Using relevant developments in information technology like
e-mail, Internet, Intranet, multi-media, imaging, interconnec-
tivity, full-text databases, in-house CD-ROM publishing, etc.
2 Info Tech Converting the functionsofcataloging, circulation, acquisition,
serials from manual to an automated mode 8.40
3 Info Tech Planning for library automation: assessing needs, system spec-
iﬁcation and procurement of resources, etc. 8.30
4 Info Tech Training staff and users inusing automated systems 8.29
5 Management Leadership skill 8.09
6 Info Tech Comprehending the impact of information technology on
7–8 Info Tech Managing automated systems (input, ﬁle maintenance, back-
up, security, etc.) 8.06
7–8 General Demonstrating good interpersonal skills and effective verbal
and writing communication skills 8.06
9 Ref & Info Serv Developing a sound knowledge of ready reference sources 8.03
10 Info Tech Designing and developing Web-based materials and documents
for online use 8.00
are analyzed here. Of the respondents, 41 (59%) represented public sector organi-
zations while 29 (41%) were from private sector institutions. The respondents also
well represented all types of general and technical universities/colleges/institutes.
Although, the respondents had differences in their perceptions about each com-
petency statement, they validated all statements given to them, becausethe smallest
mean score a statement obtained was 5.84. The reliability analysis of the list of 75
competency statements showed that it was highly internally consistent (Cronbach’s
Ten competenciesgot mean scores of 8 or more (The list is presented in Table 1).
Seven out of the ten most essential competencies validated for academic librarians
belonged to the informationtechnology category. This trend of validation shows that
all managers anticipate the use of information technology in academic libraries in the
near future. With a mean score of 8.53, Using relevant developments in information
technology like e-mail, Internet, Intranet, multimedia, imaging, interconnectivity,
full-text databases, in-house CD-ROM publishing, etc., was rated number one in
the list of 75 competencies. The second most essential competency was Convert-
ing the functions of cataloging, circulation, acquisition, and serials control from
manual to automated mode, with a mean score of 8.40. Three competencies from
other categories in the top ten list were Leadership skill (Management), Demonstrat-
ing good interpersonal skills and effective verbal and writing communicationskills
(General) and Developing a sound knowledge of ready reference sources (Reference
& Information Services) with scores of 8.09, 8.06 and 8.03 respectively.
The validation data of 75 competencies belonging to six categories are presented
in Tables 2 to Table7. As Table 2 shows, the mostimportant competency, from 15 in
the Management category, was Leadership skill. With a mean score of 7.79, Deﬁning
36 K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan
Rank Competency Mean
1 Leadership skill 8.09
2 Deﬁning mission, role and objectives of an academic library 7.79
3 Public relationing to ensure community support (library friends, fund raising, rap-
port development with faculty and administrators) 7.77
4–5 Preparing library budgets and their ﬁscal management 7.71
4–5 Supervising subordinate staff 7.71
6 Working in teams 7.60
7 Marketing and promotion of library services and products 7.47
8 Collecting library use and performance data, conducting statistical analysis, and
applying it in planning and decision making 7.43
9 Evaluating library performance qualitatively and quantitatively 7.40
10 Managing libraries by developing appropriate organizational structure, communi-
cation patterns, and human resource development 7.34
11 Strategic planning (developing long-range plans and translating them into medium
range and operational plans) 7.24
12 Organizing extension activities for academic community like displays, talks, semi-
nars, etc. 7.20
13 Time management 7.19
14 Comprehending the role of knowledge management inlibraries 7.06
15 Change management by integrating library resources and services with environ-
mental changes 7.00
Resource development competencies
Rank Competency Mean
1 Collection development according to academic or research programs of the parent
2 Using bibliographic systems (OCLC, etc.) and other online tools for acquisition 7.54
3 Developing policies and managing activities for preservation and conservation of
library materials 7.51
4–5 Managing the functions of weeding, storage, and gifts and exchange 7.50
4–5 Acquiring materials (ordering, receiving, claiming, invoice processing, etc.) 7.50
6 Developing policies for collection development 7.43
7 Reviewing documents (information sources) and user requests for selection
8 Developing policies for government documents related to collection development,
organization of materials and specialized services 6.81
9 Understanding the processes of printing, publishing and book distribution 5.99
10 Assessing the capabilities of booksellers and distributors 5.90
11 Understanding the international, national and discipline-oriented publishing
mission, role and objectives of an academiclibrary was the second important skill in
this category. This is closely followed by public relations skill that got a mean score
of 7.77. Library extension activities, time management, knowledge management and
change management were placed at comparatively low ranks.
In the Resource development category, collection development topped the list of
K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan 37
Technical service competencies
Rank Competency Mean
1 Managing serials (acquisition, subscription, union lists, services, preservation, etc.) 7.80
2 Conceptualizing philosophic foundations for retrieval, classiﬁcation, indexing and
3 Developing mastery over information analysis and cataloging systems, rules, and
tools (codes, schemes, thesauri, etc.) 7.66
4 Cataloging resources available through Internet 7.46
5 Analyzing content of documents to determine class numbers andsubject terms 7.34
6 Original cataloging of materials 7.17
7 Cataloging government documents, organizing collection, and providing services 6.97
8 Cataloging of non-print and specialized materials (like serials, AV,electronic media,
maps, manuscripts, etc.) 6.90
9 Developing authority ﬁles for cataloging 6.71
10 Cataloging archives, managing archival collection and providing services 6.44
11 Copy cataloging (by using bibliographic utilities like OCLC, Biblioﬁle, etc.) 6.36
Reference and information services competencies
Rank Competency Mean
1 Developing a sound knowledge of ready reference sources 8.03
2 Developing literature searching systems and services (manual and electronic in
online or CD-ROM media) 7.99
3 Acquiring mastery on computerized searching for conducting search interview,
formulating search strategy, using search tools, conducting and evaluating searches 7.93
4 Assessing information needs and interests of users 7.90
5 Understanding the primary concepts and terminology in the areas of specialization
of a special academic library 7.77
6 Helping users in searching catalog and other bibliographic sources/utilities 7.71
7 Developing policies for reference and information services 7.63
8 Developing specialized information services like SDI, vertical ﬁle, content page,
clippings, bulletin boards, referral, etc. 7.56
9 Developing policies for resource sharing and cooperation with other libraries (Using
documents delivery services) 7.44
10 Preparing plans for effective space utilization and furnishing 7.43
11 Developing circulation and collection management policies and managing
12 Developing user education literature and products (brochures, handbooks, pathﬁnd-
ers, videos, slide-tape show, etc.) 7.30
13 Indexing and abstracting 7.13
14 Designing and conducting user education programs 7.01
15 Managing conducive conditions for in-house use (temperature, lighting, seating,
16 Information manipulation and repackaging 6.77
17 Providing library services to distance learners 5.94
11 competencies, with a mean score of 7.71 (Table 3). The other important validated
skills were using bibliographic systems for acquisition, and policy formulation for
preservation and conservation of library materials. Knowledge about printing, pub-
lishing and book-selling was not givenmuch importance, receiving mean scores even
38 K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan
Information technology competencies
Rank Competency Mean
1 Using relevant developments in information technology like e-mail, Internet, In-
tranet, multi-media, imaging, interconnectivity, full-text databases, in-house CD-
ROM publishing, etc.
2 Converting the functions of cataloging, circulation, acquisition, serials from manual
to an automated mode 8.40
3 Planning for library automation: assessing needs, system speciﬁcation and procure-
ment of resources, etc. 8.30
4 Training staff and users in using automated systems 8.29
5 Comprehending the impact of information technology on libraries 8.07
6 Managing automated systems (input, ﬁle maintenance, back-up, security, etc.) 8.06
7 Designing and developing Web-based materials and documents for online use 8.00
8 Evaluating the performance of the existing automated systems 7.94
9 Designing and participating in larger information systems and networks (LAN and
10 Designing and maintenance of in-house databases 7.73
11 Using word-processing, graphics, spreadsheets and similar software packages for
ofﬁce management 7.70
12 Utilizing digitization technology to create documents for online use 7.66
Rank Competency Mean
1 Demonstrating good interpersonal skills and effective verbal and writing communi-
cation skills 8.06
2 Demonstrating a knowledge and commitment to the ethics and values of the
3 Having practical experience of working in an academic library 7.59
4 Participating in professional activities outside the library 7.53
5 Understanding information theory and dynamics related to information generation,
organization and delivery; structure and formats of information in various types of
materials and media
6 Comprehending library and information legislation (national andinternational) 6.93
7 Editing library publications 6.64
8 Understanding historical background of library and information services in the
9 Developing desk-top publishing capability 6.21
less than six.
Table 4 reveals that serials management topped the list of technical service compe-
tencies. This was closely followed by philosophic foundations for technical services.
Competencies with lower mean score were developing authority ﬁles, managing
archives and copy cataloging.
Of 17 competencies belonging to the reference and informationservices category,
Developing a sound knowledge of ready reference sources got a high mean score
of 8.03 (Table 5). Next came Developing literature searching systems and services,
Acquiring mastery on computerized searching, and Assessing information needsand
K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan 39
Top ﬁve competencies for public sector (n=41)
Rank Category Competency Mean
1 Info Tech Using relevant developments in information technology like e-mail,
Internet, Intranet, multi-media, imaging, interconnectivity, full-text
databases, in-house CD-ROM publishing, etc.
2 Info Tech Training staff and users in using automated systems 8.32
3 Info Tech Converting thefunctions of cataloging, circulation, acquisition, serials
from manual to an automated mode 8.22
4 Info Tech Planning forlibraryautomation: assessing needs, system speciﬁcation
and procurement of resources, etc. 8.20
5 Info Tech Comprehending the impact of information technology on libraries 8.05
Top ﬁve competencies for private sector (n=29)
Rank Category Competency Mean
1 Info Tech Converting the functions of cataloging, circulation, acquisition,
serials from manual to an automated mode 8.66
2 Info Tech Using relevant developments in information technology like e-
mail, Internet, Intranet, multi-media, imaging, interconnectivity,
full-text databases, in-house CD-ROM publishing, etc.
3 Info Tech Planning for library automation: assessing needs, system speciﬁ-
cation and procurement of resources, etc. 8.45
4 General Demonstrating good interpersonal skills and effective verbal and
writing communication skills 8.41
5 Management Leadership skill 8.38
interests of users. Competencies that got a low mean score (below 7) included
Managing conducive conditions for in-house use, Information manipulation and
repackaging, and providinglibrary services to distance learners.
As Table6 shows, all 12 competencies in the Informationtechnology category got
high mean scores (i.e., 7.66 to 8.53). Relevant developments in IT, automation of li-
brary housekeeping routines, planningfor library automation, andtraining for library
automation topped the list. Competencies that were given comparatively less im-
portance were using ofﬁce management software packages and utilizing digitization
Good interpersonal skills and effective verbal and writing communication skills
were given most importancein General competencies (Table 7). Next came profes-
sional ethics/values, and a practicum in academic libraries. LIS history and desk-top
publishing got minimum attention in this category.
A comparative preference of competencies was analyzed for public and private
sector librarians. The results, presented in Table 8 and Table 9, show that the top ﬁve
technology category. On the other hand, for private sector librarians, only three out
of the top ﬁve competencies belonged to this category. Two competencies that they
ranked at fourth and ﬁfth positionswere interpersonal/communicationand leadership
40 K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan
Signiﬁcantly different mean scores for public and private sector librarians
Competency Public Private t-Value 2-Tail
mean mean sign.
Working in teams 7.22 8.14 −2.181 0.033
Time management 6.83 7.69 −2.108 0.039
Change management by integrating library resources and
services with environmental changes 6.68 7.45 −2.017 0.048
Developing mastery over information analysis and cata-
loging systems, rules, and tools (codes, schemes, thesauri,
8.02 7.14 2.436 0.018
Designing and conducting user education programs 6.66 7.52 −2.146 0.035
In order to identify those competencies that are associated with statistically sig-
niﬁcant differences in their desirability by public and private sector librarians, a
two-tailed t-test was performed. The criterion of 0.05 was used to identify such
statements. The results show that there was a very strong overlap in ratings of com-
petencies by both groups of librarians. The mean scores of 70 out of 75 statements
had no signiﬁcant difference in them. Only the ﬁve competencies that showed a sig-
niﬁcant difference in their means are presentedin Table 10. Working in teams, time
management, change management, and designing and conducting used education
programs were more preferred more by private sector librarians than the other group.
On the other hand, developing mastery over information analysis and cataloging
systems was more preferred by public sector librarians.
This study has identiﬁed sets of competencies for entry-level professionals of
academic libraries in Pakistan. The results of this study show that a list of needed
countries, is absolutely acceptable for academic librariansin Pakistan. The responses
of this survey aremostly in linewith the previous studies conducted inother countries
of the respondents, whethertheyposses these competenciesthemselvesornot, expect
skills like information technology, interpersonal communication andleadershipskills
from future academic librarians. Academic librarians are clear that future library
services will not be possible without the use of technology. Another noteworthy fact
revealed from this study is the agreement among librarians working in public and
private sectors. No signiﬁcant difference is found in the opinion of the two groups on
70 out of 75 statements. However, good interpersonal/communicationandleadership
skills are slightly more demanded by private sector librarians. On the other hand,
public sector librarians prefer information technology to all other competencies.
K. Mahmood / Competencies needed for future academic librarians in Pakistan 41
The sets of competencies prepared and validated in this study provide the ground-
work for a redeﬁnition of the curricula of LIS education programs. They can also be
objectively applied for the evaluation of current education programs. The future is
uncertain, but subjecting our present curricula and programs to a systematic review
may help us in setting directions for framing the future. Adequate appreciation of
competency data is crucial for the preparation of future information professionals in
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