The position title had many variations. The term “librarian” occurred most often (67 out of 110), followed by “digital” (62), “data” (24), and “archivist” (15).
Only 12% of positions (13) had administrator titles, such as head of digital projects, associate director of digital initiatives, director of special collections, digital library content manager, etc.
The job advertisements included in this study originated from institutions in the United States and Canada. Academic libraries in 34 states were represented with institutions in Massachusetts posting the highest number of job advertisements (9 out of 110), followed by Indiana (8), Michigan (7), California (7), Texas (6), New York (6), and Georgia (6).
Of the 110 job advertisements collected, 85% (93 out of 110) required or preferred an ALA-accredited Master's degree as an educational qualification for the job.
Twenty-eight percent of job ads (31) referenced the requirement or preference for a Master's degree in other disciplines in addition to, or instead of, a degree in LIS. Among them, 9 positions preferred or required an undergraduate and/or advanced degree in a science or engineering discipline; 6 in the arts and humanities; and 5 in the social sciences.
Eleven ads did not specify a particular discipline; most labeled it as “related or relevant advanced degree,” but three ads included the more encompassing phrase, “relevant data-intensive discipline.”
About 66% of the job ads (73 out of 110 ads) expected applicants to have certain work experiences, which were often described broadly as experiences working in a library or archive setting. Some job ads described specific work experiences: 18 ads preferred individuals with experience in acquisition, curation, preservation, and management of digital content or collections; 9 specified some experience working with research data; 6 required experience with an institutional repository; and 3 indicated experience with digital library technology, standards, and practices.
Fifty-eight percent of job ads (64) required a specific number of years of work experience: 13 required at least one year; 27 a minimum of two years; and 20 a minimum of three years. Two administrative positions required at least eight years of relevant professional experience. The average number of years of preferred or required work experience was 2.70.
Skills and Knowledge
Based on the required and preferred qualifications found in the job announcements, areas of knowledge and skills expected for professionals in digital curation were categorized into twelve areas (see Table 1).
Among preferred or desired qualifications stated in the ads, an ability to work in an information technology intensive environment appeared most frequently (58%; 64 out of 110). This includes knowledge of multiple operating systems and web architectures including Unix/Linux, Windows, and LAMP; programming and scripting, such as Java, PHP, and Perl; and web development skills, such as HTML and CSS. Another facet of this area includes the ability to work with data using relational databases, such as Oracle or MySQL; data analysis tools, like NVivo, Stata, SAS, and SPSS; and specifications including SQL, XML, XSLT, RDF, and OWL.
The technical, organizational, and procedural standards and specifications area was reflected in 55% of job ads (60). Among them, familiarity with and knowledge of various metadata standards, such as MARC, Dublin Core, METS, MODS, and PREMIS, were mentioned in 51 job ads. Knowledge of the tools and applications used in curating digital data was required in 35 job ads. Among those ads, 19 job ads specifically mentioned knowledge of commonly used repository platforms including, but not limited to, DSpace, Eprints, and Fedora.
About a quarter of job ads (27) described functional skills for curation. Functional skills include methods, techniques, practices, and procedures for various curation activities, including selection, creation, and preservation. A similar number of job ads noted working knowledge of curation. Working knowledge includes concepts, issues, and technical challenges of various subjects. Those subjects include data management principles, intellectual property issues, repository architecture, and relevant academic/research policies.
Table 1. Areas of skills and knowledge
|Areas||No. of Job Ads||Percent|
|Working in an Information Technology Intensive Environment||64||58%|
|Standards and Specifications||60||55%|
|Personal and Interpersonal Skills||47||43%|
|Research and Trends||41||37%|
|Tools and Applications||35||32%|
|Liaison and Support||34||31%|
|Functional Skills for Curation||27||25%|
|Working Knowledge for Curation||25||23%|
|General Library/Archive Skills||24||22%|
|Other Domain Knowledge||4||4%|
Job ads in the field of digital curation also highlighted that project management skills are increasingly in demand. Project management, which refers to qualifications related to planning, coordinating, and implementing effective projects including supervising other staff members, was mentioned in 49 job ads. Professionals in the digital curation field also need to keep up with emerging trends of digital scholarship, including electronic publishing, digital preservation, and data mining, as reflected in the research and trends area represented in 41 job ads.
Forty-three percent of job ads (47) expected applicants to have personal, transferable skills, and essential work skills that are important to be a ‘good professional.’ Such skills can be applicable to any field in libraries and are reflected in phrases such as excellent communication skills, strong analytical skills, multi-tasking ability, independent judgment, leadership, and so forth.