What the Heck is Agile Librarianship?

Agile librarianship, in short, can be defined as the ability to quickly and effectively adapt to changes in your environment and the digital world has made the change a constant component of all of our lives. This guide will help you learn how to apply agile principles to your everyday life and become an agile librarian to stay on top of the ever-changing technologies that affect libraries the most.

Agile Librarianship Overview

Web 2.0 is quickly giving way to Web 3.0, which will alter how we use technology, what we expect from our online experiences, and how libraries as institutions must react and adapt to serve their constituencies. As a librarian, you may be ready for the change in your current position but maybe aren’t sure how to start looking for that new position that takes advantage of these shifts in technology and culture. Perhaps you are just thinking about starting a career in library science or have just graduated with an MLISc degree and want to get your feet wet before plunging into professional services? No matter what stage of life or career you are at, there are certain skills every agile librarian needs: communication, collaboration, project management; analysis, execution; research methods; organization and time management; ability to learn new technologies quickly; web design skills; IT expertise.

Challenges and Opportunities

The library profession is changing, like many other professions and industries. In fact, some even call it a revolution, pointing to a new era of library 2.0 which has taken us from card catalogs to digital catalogs and now pushes us toward e-books and e-learning modules. What’s next? I asked myself that question, when I became familiar with a movement called Web 3.0 – the web as an application platform that can support everything from apps running on smartphones or embedded systems all the way up to rich client desktop apps and beyond. Like Web 2.0, Web 3.0 holds great promise for libraries if we play our cards right; thus we need an agile librarian who is not afraid of change but knows how to handle it wisely.

Practical Tips for Implementing Agile Librarianship

A real-world implementation of agile practices can be done on a small scale, with an individual project, or with an entire library system; however, it’s important to figure out how to make your local library work for you before going through with any kind of transition. Here are some practical tips for implementing agile librarianship within your workplace –

Establish buy-in: Involve stakeholders (e.g., departmental leads, staff, directors) early and often so that they understand why change is needed and feel empowered by proposed changes rather than threatened by them.

Create a charter for transitioning to agile: Determine where you want to go and how you want to get there—then formalize these milestones into a roadmap that everyone understands and agrees with!

Getting started is the hardest part of any project, but having a clear direction from start to finish can really help create momentum once things begin rolling.

Get training: Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, different books or online courses may give you a good grasp of basic processes for becoming more agile – many readers have suggested The Scrum Field Guide as a starting point, but there are certainly other resources out there depending on what type of functionality you need at your disposal.


When it comes to staffing your library, there’s a lot to think about, and you probably don’t have time for agile librarianship, information architecture, or user experience design. However, if you want to catch your library up with other libraries that are successfully making use of these techniques on their websites, then now is the time to hire someone with those skills who can do some of those tasks while they work under your direction and supervision; again, that person might be you!