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ALA defines core competences of librarianship

For Immediate Release from ALA,
February 24, 2009

At the American Library Association (ALA) 2009 Midwinter Meeting in Denver, the ALA Council passed a resolution defining the core competences of librarianship.

The core competences document represents the work of a special Presidential Task Force on Library Education and builds on the efforts of several previous groups.

The document defines the basic knowledge to be possessed by all persons graduating from an ALA-accredited master’s program in library and information studies. Librarians working in school, academic, public, special and governmental libraries will need to acquire special knowledge beyond that specified in the resolution.

It states that everyone graduating from an ALA-accredited master’s program in library and information studies should know and, where appropriate, be able to employ:

  • Foundations of the Profession.
  • Information resources.
  • Organization of recorded knowledge and information.
  • Technological knowledge and skills.
  • Reference and user services.
  • Research.
  • Continuing education and lifelong learning.
  • Administration and management.

The core competency requirements stress the role of library and information professionals in promoting democratic principles and intellectual freedom, knowing and applying the legal framework guiding libraries and information agencies – including laws relating to copyright, privacy, freedom of expression, equal rights and intellectual property – and attaining competency in identifying and analyzing emerging technologies and innovations.

To learn more about the core competences of librarianship, please visit:

Core Competences Web site

ALA’s Core Competences of Librarianship (.pdf)

2 Responses to “ALA defines core competences of librarianship”

  1. Tom Ladd says:

    This is interesting, and parallels the competencies based access points in the new WebJunction (under development), and relates to the work done by the Western Council in recent years.
    I am also struck with how much it resembles the work done in New Hampshire back in 1997 !! (see

  2. Steve Butzel says:

    Tom, thanks for contributing your comment. After reviewing the 1997 report, “Preparing New Hampshire’s Librarians and Trustees for the 21st Century: a Report of the New Hampshire Task Force on Trustee and Librarian Education,” I can tell that a lot of good thinking went into researching and writing it.
    What is your sense as to the degree to which NH librarians seek out and participate continuing education opportunities? Would you say on the whole, that NH librarians are self-motivated when it comes to continuing their education?
    What do you think about the idea of broadening the notion of continuing education to include a broader sense of participation in the library field? For example, participation in library association sections and committees, teaching classes as well as attending them, publishing articles in online and print publications, and both attending and presenting at conferences held by NHLA and other organizations?

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