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Rachel VacekRachel Vacek
Web Services Librarian at the University of Houston Libraries
Rachel blogs at

Iím an academic web services librarian that works with open-source technologies, plays with emerging tools, and provides training on not only our systems but on the latest technology trends affecting libraries.† I also have a background in providing reference and information and technology literacy instruction that has helped me immensely in communicating and understanding the needs of my colleagues.† From all my experiences in different positions and libraries, Iíve realized that there are many skills that are crucial for librarians to stay afloat.† But if librarians want to really succeed, they need more than just hard skills and areas of expertise Ė they also need determination, integrity, creativity, flexibility, and openness.† To me, this is what Library 101 is all about.

Yes, itís important for librarians to have technology skills, no matter what position they are in within a library.† Iím not talking about knowing the intimate details of XHTML and CSS or having the ability to manipulate the back-end of an OPAC.† Librarians across the board need to have a healthy knowledge of emerging technologies and be willing to experiment with them, but also keep technolust under control.† They need to be able to troubleshoot basic computer and online problems.† If librarians can do reference interviews, there is no reason why they canít troubleshoot their technology issues.† Librarians should also be aware of trends with mobile devices, e-book readers, and usersí mobile expectations. Itís unacceptable for librarians to be unfamiliar with technology when we work in an environment surrounded by online tools and services and interact with users engaged with online research, social networking sites, and mobile devices.

Keeping current with technology and other trends in libraries is essential.†† I hear from colleagues constantly that itís hard to stay on track with everything thatís going on in the library world, and especially those things outside the scope that affect libraries in ways we havenít thought of yet.†† This is why I think itís so important to have a positive attitude, focus, and create buy-in among your librarian colleagues.† Librarians have to want to continue to learn and evaluate which information and tools are valuable to not only their job and their library, but for themselves.† Librarians need to have the tenacity and the desire to grow, be inspired, and inspire others.† They need to mentor one another.† These softer skills arenít usually listed on resumes, but they are a part of what defines success.

Other lessons Iíve learned by watching and listening to others is that we as librarians have to embrace change.† Librarians risk extinction if they donít adapt to meeting the user needs of today and tomorrow.† Iíve also learned to live with ambiguity, and thanks to David Weinberger, sometimes good enough is simply good enough.† Librarians have to take risks and change how they have traditionally provided service, and not be afraid of failure. Give the library users new services or a beta technology tool.† Overall, take a step back and look at the user experience, not just your experience.† Additionally, librarians need to realize that when so many people are connected to the Internet 24/7 via mobile devices and widening broadband access, our community of users expands exponentially.† Librarians should be flexible, open, and willing to take a leap into new territories. Librarians need to engage the community and provide robust services in full consideration of usersí online, mobile, and in-person needs. Library 101 isnít about just following technology trends or experimenting with new services.† Itís about working together to help people make connections with information and with one another.† If librarians embrace these skills and carry them into the future, they will inevitably be successful and help their libraries survive and even flourish.† Iíll want to be there, wonít you

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