18th LIASA Annual Conference: Abstracts: Knowledge and skills competencies for humanities librarians supporting postgraduate students

Knowledge and skills competencies for humanities librarians supporting postgraduate students

Glynnis Samantha Johnson, Jaya Raju

The academic library and information services environment is a complex one which encourages the continuous need for librarians (including humanities librarians providing postgraduate support) to re-focus and to re-skill for future needs, particularly in the technology-driven context. Many authors, for example, Adanu (2007), Choi and Rasmussen (2009), Mathew, Baby and Pillai (2010), Nonthacumjane (2011), Smith, Hurd and Schmidt (2013), and Ketlhoilwe and Molatedi (2015) have described the academic library environment as dynamic, ever-changing and digitally dominant. This is largely due to factors such as the rapid adjustments in information and communication technologies (ICTs), changing methods and practices in higher education, and a shifting student body. These changes are encouraging academic librarians to manage their knowledge and skills (also referred to as competencies) so as to remain current in this digital era. This paper addresses the following research question: What are the necessary knowledge and skills that humanities librarians require in order for them to effectively provide support to postgraduate students in the current digital age? This paper will report on an aspect of a Master’s study completed in 2016 entitled: ‘A study of the knowledge and skills requirements for the humanities librarian in supporting postgraduate students’.

The constructivist paradigm was selected together with the qualitative approach and a multiple case study research design in order to address the research question. Core Competency Theory was used to provide theoretical support. Empirical data was collected by conducting semi-structured interviews with purposively sampled librarians and by conducting focus group discussions or interviews with purposively sampled postgraduate students from the three selected traditional universities within the Western Cape, South Africa, namely: Stellenbosch University, the University of Cape Town, and the University of the Western Cape. The collected data were analysed using NVivo 11 Pro (for coding purposes) and thematic content analysis by the researcher. This paper will report on the findings of the aforementioned research question.