Where’s the Any key?

any key

Earlier this month I mused to my colleagues of the importance of acquiring the skills needed to use technologies common to most library environments. I phrased it as digital or electronic literacy, as we were then speaking on the nature of information literacy. I had made the analogy that to understand information sources and the value of research, you needed to understand how different media presented and created information. In the same regard being able to utilize and understand the many types of technologies and applications we interact with on a daily basis could also require skill sets; which aren’t necessarily the same as they were 10 years ago. So what are the minimum skills needed to be a functioning librarian? Are we making sure that new graduates meet those minimums?

Two fellow library bloggers outlined a few of the skills they thought necessary to fulfill these competencies. Emily Clasper, in her blog LibraryRevolution, talked upon the basic competencies. In his blog, David Lee King spoke to the skills involved with being a part of the Library 2.0 movement.

Though Emily’s list focuses on what we could call primary digital interface skills, many seem to trudge along and bypass these skills through learned behaviors. I will have to agree that beyond the more application based tasks (copy and paste, rename folders, spell check, saving, and attaching) these other skills require a bit more knowledge as to how the technologies interact. Granted you don’t necessarily need to know the exact port your email service is assigned to, but if you don’t have the foggiest idea what I mean by a port, this could be a sign that some research is required. All in all these primary digital skills can be shared by a colleague with a few minutes and the willingness to teach. If you don’t know that person yet, they probably mention their blog daily, own a Wii, salivated at the thought of owning an iPhone, talk to length about a new open source library add on for putting a tag cloud in the catalog, or just spend an inordinate amount of time quoting pop-culture references. (I should know, we can smell our own.)

As for David Lee King’s list of Library 2.0 skills, there are several in this list that are pseudo-primary skills. I applaud the inclusion of utilizing multimedia technologies and image manipulation. It is easy to get caught up in the 2.0 buzz, but when it comes right down to it, just because you can embed a video or paste images into a WYSIWYG interface; sometimes you should err on the side of caution. If a TIFF seems the same to you as a PDF or you swear at the screen because you can’t figure out why your MOV file won’t play correctly, it may be time to ask one of those aforementioned techies.

Sarah Houghton-Jan, the Librarian in Black, has been working on core competencies for library staff members. This seems to me to be something all libraries should be not only considering, but actively assessing for their organization. Library schools should also be using this type of evaluation in their technology curriculum, so that their fresh new graduates don’t find themselves staring daggers at the more tech savvy applicants for those ever elusive entry level positions.

In this blog, I talk quite often about Web 2.0 and new technologies for libraries, but I must remind readers that I wasn’t branded with binary code at birth. Though I have always found technology intriguing, I often associated more with the bohemian side of being a Fine Art major. With my associations now being more prominently in library related topics, the rekindling of this technological fascination assists me a great deal. As a colleague of mine recently stated, “Technology isn’t a badge you can conveniently wear at your leisure, it is something you must live.” (Paraphrased) This isn’t a call for everyone to take up tech as their modern lifestyle choice, but merely a tip that there are those among us who would rather game for 3 hours on a Saturday afternoon rather than take a walk in the park. I would almost wager the larger percentage of those individuals would be able to help you with your HTML questions.

 {Photo courtesy of Jana Blaber}

  1. Paul
    10/18/2007 at 6:19 pm

    So where is the any key? its not where the any key is in the picture.

  2. 10/19/2007 at 1:39 am


    Well the Any key is a coy reference to a Simpsons episode in which Home is working from home and encounters the computer needed to do his job, for what seems to be the first time.

    The screen reads, “To start press any key.”

    Homer replies, “Where’s the any key?”

    The association is; that all too often those which we sit in front of new technology deemed “necessary” to do their job, find themselves puzzled and frustrated.


  1. 05/01/2008 at 4:33 pm

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