New Mexico State Library

Core Competencies for NM Library Staff

Core Competencies for NM Library Staff

Core competencies are basic skills that enable library directors and staff to serve their communities fully and at a professional level. There are six core competency categories:

1. Cataloging

Cataloging describes and allows access to library materials. Library Staff who work in cataloging and classification support library users’ access to resources in a library. They do this by assisting with the processes that enable multiple ways of searching in a catalog to identify what is in a library; to identify particular items; and to locate these items in the library or in other libraries. Cataloging and classification work requires knowledge of standard systems of classification, cataloging, and subject headings. This work also requires the ability to apply these standards to diverse types of materials.

Library Staff will know:
  • The functionality of integrated library systems.
  • Basic tools, both print and online, for cataloging.
  • The basics of MARC format and cataloging rules.
  • The basics of classification and organization schemes for collections.
  • The basics of subject headings and authority control.
  • National standards.
Library Staff will be able to:
  • Use bibliographic utilities (such as OCLC).
  • Understand the cataloging functions of integrated library systems.
  • Perform copy cataloging, including reviewing and editing cataloging records.
  • Explain the library’s classification scheme to others.
  • Assist others with the classification scheme.
  • Find desired resources.

2. Collection Development

Library Staff who work in collection management support coworkers and library users by assisting with the processes that put library materials on the shelf or online. Collection management work requires knowledge and abilities in many aspects of this fundamental library work, including understanding publishers, vendors, budgets and accounting, how to resolve problems, preparing items for use, and caring for items after they have been well used.
Library Staff will know:
  • The functionality of integrated library systems.
  • The general purpose of collection management in libraries.
  • The basic principles of selecting and discarding of all types of library materials.
  • Basic principles for preserving all types of library materials.
Library Staff will be able to:
  • Use standard sources to assist with collection development and procurement.
  • Maintain the collection using standard preservation techniques.
  • Assist with decisions regarding weeding, material retention, and replacement.
  • Explain and apply the library policy for accepting gifts of materials.

3. Information Technologies

These competencies address the skills and knowledge about technology necessary for library work. This competency set also addresses the role of providing access to and educating the user in the use of technologies and equipment relevant to information seeking, access, and use.
Library Staff will know:
  • General trends and developments of appropriate technology in all library functions and services, whether offered in the library or through remote access.
  • Technology’s role in creating, retrieving, and delivering library resources, function, and services.
  • The role and responsibility of libraries for introducing relevant applications of technology to the public, including assistive technology.
  • Basic computer operations needed to access library applications software and productivity tools.
  • Basic networking technologies and protocols.
  • Basic data security principles and best practices to ensure the integrity of data and the confidentiality of user activities.
  • Concepts and issues concerning the appropriate use of technology by different user groups.
Library Staff will be able to:
  • Adapt to changes in technology.
  • Transfer information gained from training into the work place.
  • Assist and train users to operate public equipment, connect to the internet, utilize library software applications, and access library services from remote locations.
  • Use information discovery tools including the library’s catalog, core library databases, and internet search engines.
  • Perform basic troubleshooting of technical problems, and resolve or appropriately refer those problems.
  • Access and use basic assistive technologies, where appropriate, to ensure that all users have equitable access to technology.

4. Management

Library Staff often hold positions that involve supervision and management. These staff members may also need to demonstrate the competencies specific to a department in which they work. This section has multiple competencies.
Library Staff will know:
  • The value of written, approved policies and the difference between policies and procedures.
  • The basic purposes and concepts of budgeting, grant writing, and fundraising.
  • The value of planning library services based on community demographics and needs and evaluating these services.
  • Principles and the value of cooperation and collaborating with other libraries, agencies, and organizations.
  • Principles of marketing the library and its services.
Library Staff will be able to:
  • Develop realistic goals and measurable objectives after careful consideration of benefits, risks, and impact on library current and future needs.
  • Develop, implement, and evaluate recommendations for new services and programs based on analysis and interpretation of data about various aspects of library operations.
  • Review existing and develop new policies and procedures.
  • Develop and implement a marketing plan for the library and evaluate its effectiveness.
  • Build positive relationships between staff and users, applying concepts of user-oriented customer service.
  • Demonstrate the ability and willingness to uphold policies and decisions, and know when exceptions are appropriate.
  • Use appropriate strategies to deliver difficult or sensitive information.
  • Identify community and user demographics, and assist in planning library services on those demographics and needs.
  • Request, defend, and follow a budget for library activities.
  • Conduct meetings effectively and efficiently.
Library Staff will know:
  • Basic regulations and laws that govern employment; library policies, and procedures; and how policies are influenced by local, state, and federal laws and regulations.
  • Principles of staff management, supervision, and discipline.
Library Staff will be able to:
  • Participate in recruiting, hiring, training, evaluating, and promoting library staff.
  • Set clear performance expectations linked to the library’s strategies and priorities.
  • Demonstrate leadership in a team environment.
  • Plan, implement, and encourage participation in staff development activities.
Library Staff need to communicate effectively with library users, library staff, and others in a variety of situations to offer high-quality customer service. Library Staff are also required to make decisions that impact library services and serve as valued members of work teams. This set is divided into two parts: communication, and team work and decision-making.
Library Staff will know:
  • Basic concepts of interpersonal relations, customer service, and communication.
  • The importance of upholding policies and decisions, and when to make exceptions.
  • Tools for resolving conflict.
Library Staff will be able to:
  • Treat others with respect, fairness, and consistency.
  • Seek, give, and accept constructive feedback from coworkers, supervisors, and users.
  • Resolve conflict in a positive and productive manner, and judge when situations should be referred to a supervisor.
  • Write clearly, logically, and concisely.
  • Select the most appropriate medium for communicating, based on the language, communication styles, and needs of diverse receivers (user and staff).
  • Listen effectively and transmit information accurately and understandably.
  • Use approachable and welcoming behavior with all users.
  • Anticipate and maintain awareness of users’ needs and wants in order to provide or improve services.
Team Work and Decision-MakingLibrary Staff will know:
  • Basic concepts of team work.
  • Basic concepts of effective decision-making.
Library Staff will be able to:
  • Participate effectively on teams, commit to meeting agreed-upon goals and objectives, and support team decisions.
  • Promote communication and respect among team members.
  • Identify critical and sensitive library issues, and choose appropriate strategies to communicate this information among the public, supervisors, team members, and peers as appropriate.
  • Provide timely, accurate, and candid information to supervisors, peers, and team members to facilitate decision-making.
  • Gather the best available information to support decisions.

5. Reference

These services support library users as they seek access to information in all formats, wherever these resources are located. These competencies require an understanding of basic information resources and of the user’s information seeking behavior and expectations.
Library Staff will know:
  • Legal issues involved in reference services, including user privacy, confidentiality, and copyright.
  • Basic reference, information, and community resources.
  • Basic search methods, display options, and terminology of the library’s catalog, website, and other information access tools.
Library Staff will be able to:
  • Conduct effective reference interviews, helping users define their information needs.
  • Judge when referrals are necessary, and use appropriate referral procedures.
  • Instruct users in basic research procedures, including use of the library’s catalog, general database, and web searching, and locating materials in the library.
  • Use basic searching skills to find information in print, non-print, and digital resources.
  • Help users select the most appropriate information resource to meet their needs, and evaluate the quality, currency, and authority of information retrieved.
  • Identify and locate information in all formats, and assist users in retrieving materials, including those not held locally.

6.  Youth Services

These competencies are for library staff working in a public library in service to youth, from birth through age seventeen. Services to youth include collection development, programming, providing Readers Advisory and Reference services, and teaching information literacy skills and related activities.
Library Staff will know:
  • A general understanding of the stages of childhood and adolescent development, and factors contributing to the development of early literacy skills.
  • Resources for youth in different formats, including award-winners, classic titles, and age-appropriate print and electronic materials.
  • How to select appropriate materials for a particular youth, based on such factors as reading level, interest, and level of maturity.
  • Appropriate internet sites, rules for safe navigation, and use of online search tools and other technological applications for youth.
  • Legal and other issues affecting youth.
Library Staff will be able to:
  • Establish a welcoming atmosphere and actively encourage youth participation in library programs and in the use of resources.
  • Demonstrate written and oral communication skills for working with youth, their parents and other caregivers, other library staff, and the personnel of agencies serving youth.
  • Assist with selecting appropriate materials for a youth collection.
  • Assist with planning, presenting, and evaluating library programs that will attract youth.
  • Assist with advocating for and publicizing youth services.
  • Work cooperatively with personnel in schools and other community agencies serving youth.
  • Conduct effective reference and readers advisory interviews for youth and their parents and other caregivers and refer to a librarian when appropriate.
  • Assist with developing and marketing services for youth and their parents and other caregivers.
  • Instruct youth in the use of library materials, resources, and equipment.
  • Manage youth problem behavior and emergency situations.
  • Follow policies and procedures related to challenged resources
  • Demonstrate an understanding of, and a respect for, diverse cultural, religious, and ethnic values.
All competencies are adapted from the American Library Association: