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Ability to Work in Interdisciplinary Teams
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A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s 195 Core Skills Relation to other Domains Paraprofessionals requires knowledge of includes Ability to Work in Interdisciplinary Teams includes Ability to Work in interDisCiplinAry teAms mAp loCAtion C, 9 threAD loCAtion Page 170 sCApe Author R. David Lankes Agreement DesCription This Atlas centers on librarians and the organizations they build and support. As such, it focuses on what librarians can and should do. This focus might leave the reader with the impression that the role of librarians is the only necessary role to build knowledge in communities . This is far from the truth. Improving decision making, building knowledge, and improving communities are complex tasks. They require a multitude of perspectives and skills and individuals. Librarians must be ready to not only work with other problem solvers, but to step in and coordinate these people. Why leave it to librarians to facilitate multiskilled teams? It fits their core skills and values. Librarians are facilitators and are therefore prepared to aggressively put forth both their principles and their voice while still being able to put their own agenda aside for the good of the community and their problems. no librAriAn is An islAnD Learning theory, policy, legal issues, technology, and information organization —these are just some of the skills outlined within the Atlas. To advocate that one person (with one type of degree) could be a master of all of these skills is ludicrous. While a librarian should be aware of these areas (and master some), the ultimate answer to bringing an expanded, participatory skill base to the library is a team approach. Librarians must work with lawyers, technologists, educators, and content experts to choreograph the necessary facilitation within their communities. By working in functional teams, a librarian can bring necessary resources to a community beyond simple artifacts and materials. Often when the idea of an interdisciplinary team approach is proposed , several obstacles are quickly identified. Almost all of these are based on the assumption that the whole team is organizationally and physically located within the library. Certainly there have been issues with nonlibrarians (e.g., technologists) feeling like second-class citizens or lacking a peer group. Libraries often complain about a lack of resources to attract highly qualified specialists or point out how salary Figure 84 196 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s discrepancies caused by a competitive marketplace can alienate librarians . These are real concerns. However, nothing says that all team members must be under the egis of the library. Crossing administrative lines is possible. In fact, there is an advantage to pulling teams from across these boundaries, such as leveraging resources, gaining advocates in other organizations, and more. There is, however, one essential factor in effective teams: clear respect and identification of the value of team members. Effective teams require a team member to feel valued and to value their team members. All too often in the library profession, facilitation is seen as a primarily passive and often invisible task. The goal seems to be to interject as little of the librarian’s voice as possible to avoid bias. This realization—that facilitation is a proactive shaping activity —also provides a foundation for a team approach to service and for technological innovation. Teamwork requires a strong sense of identity. Without a strong sense of purpose, method, and underlying conceptual frame, librarians can have great difficulty working in teams. It is, in essence, a form of professional insecurity that often sees other skill sets and conversants as competition. This realization points out the dangers of using technological landmarks outside of the library profession as a pointer to some preferred future. It leads to a sort of schizophrenia whereby members of the profession are looking externally for innovation and, when they find it, see the innovators as competition and a threat. This situation was apparent in much of the discussion of the library in relation to Google, Yahoo!, and Amazon over the past decade. It was not unusual to go to conferences where Google was described as a great threat to libraries in an era of “good enough” information (“Google will put us out of business because people would rather have it quick than right”) and in the next session a discussion of using a simple single search box to search library Web sites, catalogs, and databases...



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  • Library science -- Philosophy.
  • Library science -- Forecasting.
  • Libraries and community.
  • Libraries and society.
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