I had an opportunity to provide the keynote address at a recent meeting of the Association of Library and Information School Education (ALISE). The Association has been active since 1915 in providing a forum for archive and library educators to share ideas, to discuss issues, and to seek solutions to common problems.
As I have been traveling to meet National Archives staff I have made an effort to meet with students and faculty at the graduate programs around the country to educate them about who we are and where we are headed. My goal is to excite them about opportunities to work in the Federal Government, especially my agency. So the ALISE program was a great opportunity to meet with a group of students, faculty, and deans—all in one room—and to encourage them to think about their teaching and research programs and how they meet the needs of the next generation of information professionals.
What I have been telling students is that we are looking for:
- People with a broader background than was the case when I was a graduate student. In addition to history, archives and library science, other subject matter areas are important. Above all, we want people who can connect archival work with real life experiences.
- Technical savvy is a given to work in a modern archives. And by savvy, I mean not just experience with the latest technologies, but also a sense of excitement and curiosity about putting those technologies to work
- A tolerance for ambiguity—if you need a blueprint of what your job is going to be like in five years, archives might not be the best fit.
- Highly developed collaborative skills. Can you play well with others?
- People with a strong passion for working with people. A customer-driven organization such as the one we are creating needs a customer-driven staff.
Our future training, development, and performance and recognition systems will reflect this direction by focusing on the abilities such as: thinking creatively, achieving results, building relationships, promoting customer satisfaction, communicating with impact, influencing others, leading teams, and conducting research and analysis. We are also serious about developing a staff who can apply business principles, methods, and processes to solving problems; e.g., cost-benefit analysis, return on investment, etc. Finally, we intend to emphasize continual learning. We will be creating and seeking opportunities to expand the staff’s knowledge and skills through formal and informal training and feedback.
What do you think? Are these the skills and competencies we need in the next generation of information professionals?
Read the full-text of my keynote address at the ALISE 2012 Annual Conference.