Professional development is essential for academic librarians to smartly navigate through options, opportunities and challenges in their professional career (S Bell et al., 2015, p.91). Commitment from senior university library administrators’ to champion staff development programs ensures that librarians are equipped to fully participate in a rapidly evolving information environment. Such a commitment signals the important leadership role that librarians can play in supporting academics with their research activities and in guiding students to become sophisticated users of information.
Deakin University Library is regarded by academics and senior university administrators as an essential service to deliver on the promise of “accessible, media-rich, interactive and active educational experiences designed for excellent learning outcomes and optimum employability” (2015). In order to maintain such a leadership position, the Library Executive endorsed a professional development program for liaison librarians to build their capacity to work effectively and confidently with academics.
Senior library managers at Deakin University Library developed a structured training program to address the increasingly complex skill sets and disciplinary knowledge required of the liaison librarians. Since 2014, liaison librarians have undertaken an annual Training Needs Analysis (TNA) survey, which asked them to self-assess their levels of confidence in a number of areas aligned to the Library’s objectives. Results of the TNA provided a basis for developing targeted in-house training programs that scaffolded liaison librarians’ skills and knowledge. This enabled them to effectively collaborate with and support academics and students with their emerging research and learning needs. At the conclusion of each year’s training program, liaison librarians completed a post TNA survey. This gave us the means to represent the growth of liaison librarian’s confidence as a result of the training program.
The first TNA carried out in early 2014 revealed that liaison librarians were less confident about their skills and knowledge for evidencing digital literacy in learning activities; bibliometrics and data management. At the end of the training program in November, a TNA was carried out to determine shifts of skills and confidence levels and identify ongoing gaps that would inform training needs for 2015. The TNA revealed a major improvement in confidence levels across all areas.
The training program has supported liaison librarians to take a more active, leading role in developing conversations and opportunities for collaboration with academics. Liaison librarians at Deakin are now driving innovation and design in teaching and learning. They are leading the conversation about the changes in scholarly communication, and, demonstrating the role that librarians can play to empower students, academics and researchers to develop skills and knowledge to fully participate in our digital world.
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