Librarian 2.0: Convergence and complexity of attributes, skills and knowledge

Knowledge, skills and attributes


The knowledge, skills and attributes of the information specialist in the 21st century are complex and converge with and are driven by the dynamic and rapidly changing environments of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0. This blog post attempts to capture various definitions of Librarian 2.0, but acknowledges that it is the tip of a massive Web 2.0 iceberg.

deep web iceberg

Web 2.0 iceberg Source: depositphotos, 2016


Huvlia, Holmberg, Kronqvist-Berg, Nivakoski and Widen (2013) discuss the competencies and identities of the library professional amidst rapidly emerging and developing platforms and technologies which host information in its varied media forms. They assert that competence is ‘…something that constitutes the core of a profession’ (p.199), and therefore frames professional identity and qualities. The modern librarian is tasked with navigating and accessing informationlinking the client to it via various social media platforms (Vanswynberghe, Vanderlinde, Georges, Verdegem, 2015, p.284). Social media literacy then is central to Vanswynberghe, Vanderlinde, Georges and Verdegem’s definition of an effective librarian. Stover (2004) however, proposes that the notion of Librarian 2.0 is framed not so much by qualities but rather the stance of the postmodern therapist who shares the experience with the library client, adopting the stance of both learner and teacher to collaborate and share information (p.279). Where Web 2.0 has democratised participation in content creation (Farkas, 2007), Stover proposes that the postmodern librarian participates in this democratised culture by sharing rather than monopolising professional knowledge and resources (p.292).

In contrast, Radford and Radford (2001) position librarians within a Foucaultian discourse of fear where ‘communication with knowledge is not a conversation, but a request’, a controlled discourse (p.308). However, they note that libraries must move into the realm of the uncontrolled. Web 2.0 is the realm of the uncontrolled, where platforms and technologies provide contexts where the discourse is a conversation that is not controlled by the information specialist but the client.

Competencies checklist

Acknowledging the Web 2.0 environment in which the information professional now practices, Peltier-Davis (2009) provides a comprehensive checklist of competencies of Librarian 2.0. They include:

  • Capacity to learn quickly
  • Monitor trends in technology
  • Commit to continual formal and informal education
  • Enable and foster change

Farkas (2007) captures in her list of attributes needed to build Academic Library 2.0 the qualities of

  • agility
  • commitment to a learning culture
  • participation in partnerships
  • knowledge of the users
  • capacity to question everything
  • openness to feedback
  • acceptance of imperfection

The knowledge, skills and attributes of Librarian 2.0 in a Web 2.0 world are not a list that can be or should be set in stone. The word agile describes a person or process that is quick, well-coordinated, lithe and mentally acute or aware ( ). Perhaps the single, most important skill and attribute for the information professional is the one to remain agile in a dynamic Web 2.0 world.

library desk with floating books

Library rules Source: depositphotos, 2016




Fredrick, K.  (2014). The inside-out library: being a virtual librarian. School Library Monthly, 30(6)22-23.

Huvila, I., Holmberg, K., Kronqvist-berg, M., Nivakoski, O. & Widen, G. (2013). What is Librarian 2.0- New competencies or interactive relations? A library professional viewpoint. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 45(3), 198-205. doi: 10.1177/0961000613477122.

Librarians Association, University of California, Berkley Division. (2007). Building Academic Library 2.0 [Video file]. Retrieved from

Lucas, G. (2002). Star wars – If an item does not appear in our records … [Video file]. Retrieved from

Patridge, H., Menzies, V., Lee, J.M. & Munro, C. The contemporary librarian: Skills, knowledge and attributes required in a world of emerging technologies. Library and Information Science Research, 32(4), 265-271.

Peltier-Davis, C. (2009). Web 2.0, Library 2.0, Library user 2.0, Librarian 2.0: Innovative services for sustainable libraries. Computers in Libraries, 29, 16-21.

Stover, M. (2004). The reference librarian as non-expert: a postmodern approach to expertise. Reference Librarian, 42(87-88), 273-300. Doi: 10/1300/J120v42n87_10

Radford, G.P. & Radford, M.L. (2001). Libraries, librarians and the discourse of fear. The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, 71(3), 299-329.

Vanwynsberghe, H. Vanderlinde, R., Georges, A. & Verdegem, P. (2015). The librarian 2.0: Identifying a typology of librarians’ social media literacy. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 47(4), 283-293.


Skip to toolbar