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The 8Rs Canadian Library Human Resource Study: News from the Front. Allison Sivak Canadian Association of Law Libraries May 9, 2006. Starting Question. Will there be a shortage of librarians in the next 5 to 10 years due to mass retirements? A ‘simple’ question, no simple answers

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the 8rs canadian library human resource study news from the front

The 8Rs Canadian Library Human Resource Study: News from the Front

Allison Sivak

Canadian Association of Law Libraries

May 9, 2006

starting question
Starting Question
  • Will there be a shortage of librarians in the next 5 to 10 years due to mass retirements?
  • A ‘simple’ question, no simple answers
  • In the process we learned:
    • No clear succession crisis
    • Urgency in other areas of library human resources:
      • Competencies, particularly management and leadership
      • Education and training
      • Workloads and quality of work, work-life balance
      • Role overlap between librarians and paraprofessionals
      • Focus on recruitment, not as much on retirement
  • Comprehensive investigation of issues around recruitment, retention, remuneration, repatriation, rejuvenation, reaccreditation, retirement, and restructuring (the 8Rs) in the Canadian library context
the 8rs
The 8Rs
  • Recruitment
  • Retention
  • Remuneration
  • Repatriation
  • Reaccreditation
  • Rejuvenation
  • Retirement
  • Restructuring
project scope
Project Scope
  • 3-year study of unprecedented breadth and depth
  • 167 data tables
  • Over 900 variables
  • 275-page report (English and French)
  • Analyses of data by library sectors and sub-sectors
  • 2006 Librarian / Library Technician Education Study: Cultural Human Resources Council / CLA
  • Institutional Survey
    • 1,357 surveys sent to libraries
    • 34% response rate overall (461 respondents)
    • 36% public libraries
    • 50% academic libraries
    • 26% special libraries
  • Individual Survey
    • Web survey sent to 8,626 library workers
    • Response rate of 36.5% (3,148 respondents)
    • Additional 1,545 responses collected through listserv
    • Total of 4,693 responses
lack of diversity in libraries
(Lack of) Diversity in Libraries
  • Visible Minorities
    • 7% of librarians and paraprofessionals
    • 4% of all senior administrators
    • Special libraries have slightly higher representation of visible minority staff
  • Aboriginal
    • 1% of librarians across career levels
    • 2% of paraprofessionals

Table E.9: Predicted Librarian Retirements within the Next 5 and 10 Years by Geographic Location (Based on min. age of retirement of 62 Years) (Individual Survey; n=1,886)


Table J.3: Predicted Future Librarian Supply

Table J.5: Predicted Future Library Technician Supply








Other Academic






Other Public
















Figure E.2: Organizations with Succession Plan

by Library Sector (Institutional Survey; n=276)


Table D.10: Location of Library Applied to by Sector (Recent Professional Librarian Entrants, Individual Survey; n=356)

Percent Applying to Location


Figure D.4: Why Applied Outside of Canada

(Recent Professional Librarian Entrants Only, Individual Survey; n=112)


Table D.5: Recruitment Need and Activity by

Province/Region (Institutional Survey; n=278)


Table G.7: Percent of Recent Librarian Entrants Agreeing that MLIS Program Provided Skills to Effectively Perform their Jobs by Library Sector

  • Environmental factors: how to deal with limited budgets, etc.
  • Need to attract the best and brightest to the profession and to individual libraries
  • Need to ensure strong candidates get leadership and management development
  • Much of the training and development responsibility currently lies with libraries
    • How can associations and library schools play a role?
  • How will libraries predict what competencies are needed as time goes on?
  • Will the knowledge economy mean greater competition for highly-skilled library staff?
    • Large research libraries will be the winners
    • Small or rural libraries may find recruitment & retention issues compounding over time

Table K.3: Indicators of Demand for Management and Leadership Skills by Library Sector

(Institutional Survey; n=274)

librarian interest in management and leadership roles
Librarian Interest in Management and Leadership Roles
  • Librarians stating “it is important to have a job that allows me to….”
    • Manage a service/dept: 44%
    • Supervise others: 36%
    • Perform a leadership role: 62%
    • Motivate others: 64%
    • Seek out new project opportunities: 74%
role shifts
Role Shifts
  • Traditional librarian duties are being taken on in an increasing capacity by paraprofessional staff
  • 78% of institutions reported that paraprofessionals have taken on more of these responsibilities over the past 5 years
  • Role shift expected to continue to over the next 5 years
job satisfaction
Job Satisfaction
  • 79% of librarians and paraprofessionals state they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their jobs
workload manageability and stress
Workload Manageability and Stress
  • Agreeing workload manageable
    • Librarians: 39%
    • Paraprofessionals: 53%
  • Agreeing they have little job-related stress
    • Librarians: 24%
    • Paraprofessionals: 35%
  • Agreeing job allows work-life balance
    • Librarians: 62%
    • Paraprofessionals: 75%

Table I.20: Respectful Treatment of Librarians and Paraprofessionals by Library Sector (Individual Survey)


Table K.10: Paraprofessional Adoption of Professional Roles by Library Sector (Institutional and Individual Surveys)


Table H.2: Librarians Needing Significant Training by Career Level of Librarian by Library Sector (Institutional Survey; n=270)


Table H.3: Organization Provides Sufficient Opportunities to Participate in Training by Career Stage by Library Sector

(Professional Librarians Only; Individual Survey; n=1,897)

chrc education study
CHRC Education Study
  • Existing data: Online curriculum and professional development offerings and educator-provided program information
  • Phase I Employers’ Survey: Conducted in June 2003 of 461 employers and an abbreviated Phase II Employers’ Survey conducted in December 2005 of 58 employers.
  • In-depth telephone Interviews with Deans/Directors and program heads representing the MLIS and 16 LIT programs in Canada
  • Current Student Survey: Conducted in February 2006 of 857 MLIS/LIS students
  • Professional Librarian and Paraprofessional Staff Survey: Conducted in June/July 2004 of 4,693 professional librarians and paraprofessional staff
mlis programs
MLIS Programs
  • None of the 7 programs have a formal recruitment policy
    • most schools rely primarily on their website as a marketing tool.
  • Most students learned of their MLIS program through the program’s website (77%) or by word of mouth (60%)
  • The number of applicants to Canadian MLIS programs has increased by 67% over the past 5 years (from 907 in 2000 to 1511 in 2004)
  • Between 2000 and 2005, enrolments increased by 33%
lit programs
LIT Programs
  • Applications to LIT programs increased by 19% between 2000/2001 and 2004/2004, though there is a great deal of variation across individual institutions.
  • In the past 5 years, LIT application rates increased by 19% and enrollments increased by 17%
mlis programs1
MLIS Programs
  • An analysis of core required courses for all MLIS students across Canada show a generalist orientation
    • All LIS programs require students to take at least one course in management/business/leadership, and research
    • 6 LIS programs require coursework in IT and issues/history/foundations
    • 3 require coursework in public service and technical/bibliographic service
    • 1 requires a collections course
  • Most Deans/Directors noted recent increases in IT or management-related curriculum.
  • All 7 schools offer a practicum component, with 3 of these being mandatory for students.
    • Several schools offer other opportunities professional experience or networking
  • Virtually all employers felt that candidates for professional librarian positions should
    • possess good communication skills
    • possess good interpersonal skills
    • be able to learn new skills
    • be able to respond flexibly to change.
mlis programs2
MLIS Programs
  • Students see the largest gap between perceived importance and provision of business skills, followed by leadership and managerial skills
  • 46% of students agreed that their program is providing them with a realistic depiction of what is like to work as a librarian or in a related profession
  • 68% of current students expressed satisfaction with the overall quality of their education
  • 75% of the employers agreed with the statement that education provided in MLIS programs equips graduates with the competencies required to be professional librarians at their organizations
  • Suggestions for improvement:
    • Students and recent graduates: more practical training
    • Employers: improvements to management-related curriculum
lit programs1
LIT Programs
  • The single focus of LIT programs is to ensure graduates have applied (as opposed to theoretical) knowledge that will enhance their employability
  • Technical & bibliographic courses and information technology courses together comprise 40% of all required courses across the country
lit programs2
LIT Programs
  • Important competencies for paraprofessional / lib tech staff according to employers:
    • interpersonal/people skills 100%
    • organizational commitment 95%
    • communication skills 93%
  • Most important and difficult to fulfill competencies when recruiting library technicians:
    • the ability to respond flexibly to change
    • IT skills
    • public service skills
lit programs3
LIT Programs
  • Minor gaps between important competencies and their provision in the diploma program
  • 78% of current LIT students agreed that their program is providing them with a realistic depiction of what it is like to work as a library technician
  • 83% of current LIT students expressed overall satisfaction with their program
  • 90% of employers believe that LIT diploma programs adequately equip students for the workplace
  • Suggestions for improvement
    • Current students: better course content
    • Employers: better technology skills training and more specialized training
  • No smoking gun: there appears to be no imminent crisis in library staff supply and demand
  • We haven’t shattered the myth of a shortage in the library workforce, but softened it
  • There remain pressing issues for the library community to examine
  • Shifting roles experienced between librarian and paraprofessional staff
  • Access to education for all staff
    • Base education programs
    • Continuing professional development
  • Leadership and management potential and competencies of new and existing staff
  • Library programs must consider the real-world demands that both institutions and staff experience
charge to the community
Charge to the Community
  • Recruitment isn’t about numbers, but about qualities and competencies
    • Management, leadership, IT
  • Recruitment isn’t just to institutions, but to the profession
    • Convergence between the profession and the schools
  • Recognize potential in staff and create structures to encourage growth
  • Address the challenge of increasing and supporting diversity in the library workforce
charge to the community1
Charge to the Community
  • Build greater accessibility to library education programs
  • Commit to professional development for all library workers
    • Take on leadership and management development as core competencies to be nurtured within the workforce
    • Gain greater understanding of role shifts and how they define core competencies
    • What do new and mid-career staff see as necessary competencies?
    • How can training barriers (due to limited budgets) be addressed?
getting the information out
Getting the Information Out

Study available for free download (both languages) from:

CLA President’s Council

Cultural Human Resources Council Training Gaps Analysis download:

studies sponsors and supporters
Studies’ Sponsors and Supporters
  • University of Alberta
  • Canadian Association of Research Libraries
  • Canadian Urban Libraries Council
  • Library and Archives Canada
  • Alberta Community Development, Government of Alberta
  • Canadian Library Association
  • Cultural Human Resources Council / Human Resources and Skills Development Canada