All of the ALIA members want to know what the future holds for library and information services. Of course, it is impossible to predict in exact terms, but using global trends, early indicators and futurist thinking to develop themes can guide the discussion about where it might be headed. For the purpose of this discussion paper, ALIA has looked at the broad role of library and information services, and specific circumstances relating to school, public, academic and special libraries, and collecting institutions.
The report highlights areas of good practice and provides a series of recommendations for enhancements to course content for the future. It also examines a number of critical issues that are likely to impact on library technician courses due to developments in the structure and funding of education in Australia, as well as changes within the Library Information Studies sector as a whole.
This report gives educators, employers and students greater clarity about the education and employment landscape in Australia in 2014. In 2014, there were 26 institutions delivering 39 ALIA accredited courses around Australia. There were approximately 4,800 students studying for an LIS qualification every year, 25% through higher education, 75% through VET. LIS workers were significantly older, with the median age between six and 10 years higher, compared with all occupations. In the last five years, there has been a 22.5% drop in the number of Librarian positions in the workforce.
This report concludes that baby boomer retirees from the LIS sector are creating the job opportunities for graduates and other entrants to the LIS job market. Educators are in a challenging period, but this isn't restricted to the LIS sector. Data shows that more employers are recruiting candidates without LIS qualification to provide frontline services. ALIA's aim is the encourage non-LIS professionals employed in the sector to study for LIS qualifications or at least gain a better understanding of the library environment by joining ALIA’s proficiency recognition program.
This report has been prepared for the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) in response to the request to undertake a literature review and environmental scan to inform discussions of the issues associated with professional accreditation.
The library and information sector has a distinctive area of knowledge and skills which is required for effective professional practice. Library and information specialists need to acquire the relevant disciplinary expertise, demonstrate employment related skills and be prepared for a challenging and dynamic future in many diverse environments.