Identifying Library & Information Science Graduate Student Competencies

Hi Dr. Mehra,

I read in the latest issue of Interface with interest:

His article co-authored with Dr. Vandana Singh entitled “Strengths and weaknesses of the information technology curriculum in library and information science graduate programs” has been published in the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 45(3).

The idea of matching course content with employer expectations has interested me since starting at SIS.

Personally I have taken a variety of courses outside SIS / CCI to develop the skillset I need for my own career goal as a professional data manager working with environmental data.

In reading your paper, I was particularly interested in your methods concerning the WebJunction competencies available online at <>.

For future research, I would like to suggest collecting job descriptions from job listings to synthesize employer expectations, as opposed to lists of competencies put together by any single organization. I’ve noticed job listings often have "required" and "desirable" qualifications.

My guess is this approach would yield an interdisciplinary, "state of the art" view expanding on WebJunction’s competencies focused on libraries. This approach might also impact your final recommendations, which I was disappointed to see did not include computer programming proficiency. Programming and data visualization skills frequently appear in job listings for my specific realm of interest, which is one reason I and two other SIS students in my cohort are taking "Introduction to Programming for Scientists and Engineers" in the College of Engineering in the Spring 2014 Semester, along with free online courses in programming. I do not believe that computer programming skills for data management tasks like quality assurance / quality control are skills that can presently be acquired through SIS or CCI coursework, which poses a problem for accumulating skills for the workplace while also accumulating credits towards the major.

Expanding on the e-portfolio concept, I recently began a tumblr blog to capture job listings that interest me. Along with tips on developing IT skills, I cut out the "qualifications" section for jobs I can imagine myself enjoying. This keeps me focused on developing the skills I need for work I would enjoy. The result is my "Data Pro" tumblr:

You might be able to do something similar (collect and analyze minimal / desired qualifications) for job listings from sources like,, or other appropriate job boards. I think this approach would be particularly valuable for building curriculum pertaining to information management for STEM fields.

Anyway I am glad you and Dr. Singh are looking at this issue in LIS education. I hope your research will help SIS continue to develop curriculum that keeps pace with what prospective employers need.



Tanner Jessel
Graduate Research Assistant:
Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE)

Center for Information and Communication Studies
The University of Tennessee
Mail: 1345 Circle Park Drive, Suite 420


About Tanner Jessel

I am a recent M.S. in Information Science graduate from the University of Tennessee School of Information Science. I was formerly a graduate research assistant funded by DataONE (Data Observation Network for Earth). Prior, I worked for four years as a content lead and biodiversity scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Biodiversity Informatics Program. Building on my work experience in biodiversity and environmental informatics, my work with DataONE focused on exploring the nature of scientific collaborations necessary for scientific inquiry. I also conducted research concerning user experience and usability, and assisted in development of member nodes with an emphasis on spatial data and infrastructure. I assisted with research designed to understand sociocultural issues within collaborative research communities. Through August 1, 2014, I was based at the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee School of Information Science in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Posted on December 18, 2013, in Scholarly Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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