32nd EBLIDA Council and Conference 2024 and Joint EBLIDA-NAPLE-PL2030 Event

Theme: Charting the future of libraries
Organizer: EBLIDA, NAPLE, PL2030

Background to the 32nd EBLIDA Conference:

Staffing the library of the future

In many countries in Europe libraries, library academies and library associations struggle with the question of how to staff the library to prepare for the future.

The EBLIDA conference Charting the future of libraries in Lisbon April 9, 2024, places this question as the central topic.

Due to economic challenges, demographic changes, developments within the information society – in social media and in artificial intelligence- and the threats to democracy, the needs of citizens and of society are changing in an unprecedented speed and direction.

Libraries – as always – try to adjust to the needs of the community they serve. Looking back, the changes in libraries in the past decades have been enormous, transformative and are reflective of a strong and flexible profession.

During the 2023 EBLIDA conference in Luxemburg, we learned how librarians have become used to (re)creating library services every day in the interactions with their users; the so called ‘librarising’.

With the ever-changing new demands on the library, it is no longer the case that training in library academies sufficiently prepares students for the profession at hand. The speed of change has surpassed the time needed to prepare traditional curricula and execute training programs. Training programs in library academies therefore lag behind the demands of the sector.

In many countries, there are discussions about recruiting staff without a library qualification. Some believe it is more realistic to hire staff without traditional library training for marketing, communication, media education or programs. In other countries, a library qualification is indispensable. There is also an emerging opinion that it is the commitment to library values and goals rather than the qualification, that is important.

Unions play an independent role; often trying to protect the interest of current staff with conservative actions.

Those trying to recruit staff face other challenges and complexities. One is the image of the library that for many in the outside world is still defined by books. Although libraries have adapted to new roles like being a hub for information, a meeting point for the community, a centre for personal development, in practice, it is hard to shake off the image of walls of dusty books, making it difficult to attract young employees.

Additionally, it’s often difficult to retain and manage the expectations of newly acquired staff members, especially since due to organisation culture, opportunities for self-employment and/or personal development are limited.

Apart from all of the above, there is the harsh economic reality that in the competition for valuable human resources, the primary labour conditions are not competitive in libraries due to lack of funding.

Europe provides an interesting pallet of differing situations and approaches to deal with the issues mentioned above. In some countries, library academies still thrive and are in demand and in others, they have completely disappeared.

In some European countries, the library association is defining the skills and competencies and the educational program, while other countries focus on auditing the performance of the library instead of the input of staff.

The conference will start with an outline of the changes in society and the resulting changing demands on libraries. This will be elaborated on from the perspective of the practitioner, the teaching of library students and that of the policy maker.

Through a series of interviews, presentations and interactive workshops, we will explore how to address the above issues, showing you examples of good practices and lessons learned from different countries.

We want every participant to leave Lisbon with a sense of possibilities and inspiration to be put into practice.

It is our aspiration that the conference will lead to new initiatives for exchange and cooperation to the benefit of the future of libraries in Europe.

Official Conference Website:

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    9 April 2024
    Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Alameda da Universidade, Lisbon, Portugal

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