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A Nuanced Continuum Model for Academic Library Competencies and Education

Karl Madden


A conceptual framework is presented for academic library educational foundations (theory, ethics, history, and administration) develop in a nuanced continuum— from support staff certificates, to the PhD.

This model accounts for the evolving problem in academic libraries whereby advanced tasks and competencies of support staff and research specialists—and their training—blur into traditional realms of MLS-degreed librarians. The term ‘professional’ is reconsidered in context of these changing competencies.

The literature asserts that unified recognition of competency standards—as guidelines for library staffing and education, and for clarity of changing job descriptions—benefits the Academy.

Analysis of the American Library Association’s 2010 American Library Support Staff Certification Program is provided.
For support of interdisciplinary broadening and re-shaping of academic curricula—including increasing academic specialization—academic libraries need parallel specialist competencies for support staff.

Specialist certificates—as part of an overall continuum of library education—accommodate and improve holistic blending of the work of academic library professional and support staff.

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