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!

The skills every library professional should have

In order to deliver exemplary service to patrons, library professionals must have both knowledge of specific library services as well as of general professional skills that make them strong leaders and communicators, capable of helping library staff to improve their own performance and providing excellent customer service to everyone who visits the library. In this article, we will look at some of the most important skills that every library professional should have in order to excel in the workplace and be able to help others do the same.

Learn how to communicate

All library jobs require excellent communication skills, so make sure you’re comfortable communicating in writing, verbally, and electronically. This is especially important because working in a library means communicating with people from all over the world. Learning how to use programs like Skype, Google Hangouts and other video conferencing software will prepare you for job opportunities that may involve remote employees and meetings. Personal Improvements: Learning new software is an ongoing process for all librarians—whether you’re just getting started or an experienced professional.

Learn how to learn

Many librarians can easily rattle off a list of software and web tools they use on a daily basis: social media management programs, citation management systems, library catalogs, and reservation systems. Personal improvements are another familiar category of knowledge—librarians are well aware that continued education is necessary to keep their knowledge base up-to-date. But there’s another set of skills that many libraries don’t explicitly teach: personal improvement skills.

Learn how to contribute

Like any profession, there’s a range of software skills you’ll need to do your job well. If you don’t know how to code or use technical tools like Adobe Creative Suite or Survey Monkey, learn them. You won’t be behind for long. As more libraries are starting to integrate digital and physical spaces, digital technology will become a crucial part of public service—and your responsibilities as a librarian will expand because of it.

Update your computer skills

Whether you’re an IT pro or just a library employee who spends hours each day on your computer, you should always make it a point to update your software and learn about current trends in technology. Software changes rapidly, so you might not be aware of how outdated your current knowledge is until it comes time to make a change. Keeping up-to-date on new technologies helps ensure that when anything breaks down, you know exactly what to do to fix it or help others with issues.

Update your software skill

Technology may change rapidly in other fields, but when it comes to libraries, what you’ll be doing next year will probably be much like what you do today. That is why keeping your software skills up-to-date is one of your most important responsibilities as a librarian. Stay current with new programs by learning how to use them yourself or by searching for webinars and tutorials. Ask colleagues for tips and advice, too—most library employees are eager to share their expertise with others.