New normality that we have faced recently requires relevant competences in all professions, including the LIS field. Are there any competences that librarians have not yet owned? What should they know to meet new challenges?

Meet our speakers in the webinar “Putting Emerging LIS Competencies into Education and Practice: Challenges and Opportunities” organized by the IFLA SET. Kathleen De Long and Vivian Lewis will present a paper “Climbing the Mountain: Competency Development for CARL Libraries”.

In this interview, you’ll learn what librarians should know to serve their patrons in today complicated world.


Albina Krymskaya: Thank you for speaking with me. Could you name three competences that are the most important today? And why?


Kathleen: It’s hard to choose just three. However, I think that for research libraries (which is the sector I am most familiar with) mindsets that include Leadership and Facilitation, Active Learning and Adaptation, and competence in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are extremely important in today’s changing and unpredictable environment.

Vivian: I agree with Kathleen that Equity, Diversity and Inclusion belongs in the list of top three competencies. I’d also make a pitch for Active Learning and Adaption given the focus on anticipating future trends and working in the face of ambiguity. I’d also assert the critical importance of the Consultation and Communication competency: we need to get the message out about the incredible work research libraries do in the face of the pandemic.

Albina: Is there any competence that came from the past into the present?

Kathleen: Competencies should be rooted in values and principles of librarianship. Therefore competencies such as Collaboration have endured and have continuing importance.

Vivian: Yes, many key themes have carried forward from the initial set of “Core Competencies” to the 2020 version – but the nuances have definitely changed. For example, “Leadership and Management” has become “Leadership and Facilitation” in the revised version. Other themes, like technology competencies have been dispersed across the entire slate of competencies rather than being focused in one isolated competency.

Albina: How can employers participate in building the professional competencies besides traditional practice in libraries during studying?

Kathleen: It is important to open up conversations about competencies with all library staff. Too often in libraries we talk about the ‘what’ of what we are doing, without addressing the ‘how’. Competencies may seem self-evident at times but they help us focus on those mindsets, aptitudes or skills that are going to advance the whole of what we are trying to accomplish.

Vivian: What a great question! We hope that employers will be working closely with library staff to develop rich learning and development programs that meet staff needs. What those programs look like will, of course, vary from role to role and from library to library. Committing to the continuous learning across our entire profession is a key reason the competencies were written.

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Dr. De Long is currently the Interim Chair of the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta, as well as the Executive Director (Library and Museums) and Deputy Chief Librarian. She has a PhD in Library and Information Studies from Simmons College, Boston MA, as well as a Master’s in Library Science and a Master’s in Public Management, both from the University of Alberta. Her research has focused primarily upon human resource capacity and issues in Canadian libraries.


Vivian Lewis has held the position of University Librarian at McMaster University since August 2013. She currently serves as Vice-President / President Elect of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL). She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA). Vivian chaired CARL’s Strengthening Capacity Committee, a group devoted to supporting workforce development across Canada’s research libraries, from 2014 to 2019.

Vivian’s current research interests include strategic planning, assessment and workforce development. She was a member of a small team drawn from across Canada charged to draft a new slate of key competencies to help librarians be successful in 21st century CARL libraries (available at: Regardless of the specific topic, her focus remains on the critical importance of leveraging collaborative approaches to transforming research libraries.

Lewis holds a B.A. from Western University (London, Canada), a M.A. from York University (Toronto, Canada) and a MLS from the University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada). She lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her husband and very rambunctious two-year old golden retriever.