The 8Rs Canadian Library Human Resource Study is a national research project that is examining important facets of library human resources from both organizational and individual perspectives over a period of two years.
The study draws its name from the eight core issues that the literature suggests are integral to human resource management in libraries: recruitment, retention, remuneration, reaccreditation, repatriation, rejuvenation, retirement and restructuring. The research team is currently gathering data through a series of surveys and focus groups from a number of different sources: library administrations, individual librarians and library technicians at all stages of their careers, library educators and MLIS students This will allow the study to present comprehensive view of the current and predicted needs of library institutions and library workers.
This research arose from the recognition that the existing literature on recruitment, retention, and leadership in the library profession is based on either anecdotal evidence or aggregate statistics, most of which are American. This literature predicts a crisis in succession management across the sector, as senior staff retire in significant numbers, which may leave libraries with inadequate numbers of staff to fill these vacancies. If this crisis does indeed occur, it is anticipated that it will be compounded by the flattening of library organizations, the reduction in numbers of middle managers, and hiring freezes due to sustained cutbacks during the past decade in American libraries. While Canadian public, academic, special, and school libraries have also experienced some of these factors, there is a lack of primary data for the Canadian context. The question remains as to whether Canadian libraries will face a crisis in succession management across the sector.
The study seeks to provide a significant collection of data that can provide a starting point for library institutions, library educators, and professional associations to reveal some of their common gaps in knowledge. As well, this data will illuminate potential areas of convergence, so that educators, practitioners and associations can address upcoming challenges with a shared understanding of the greater context, creating new opportunities for communication and partnership and furthering relationships.
The results will be presented in a series of reports summarizing data for each library sector from administrations and staff, focusing on recent changes and anticipated challenges with respect to their human resource strategies. Perspectives gathered from these respondents include their opinions on the content currently provided by existing Canadian MLIS and library technician programs as they compare to the necessary skills and competencies in the field. Further information gathered through the study includes needs that are identified by institutions and individuals regarding ongoing education and training, additional data on current succession planning strategies and anticipated opportunities for new professionals and paraprofessionals from the viewpoints of library administrations. The study will ultimately determine if there will be a potential shortage of library staff in Canada, and more broadly, provide extensive information on the state of human resource in Canadian libraries.
The project will accumulate both qualitative and quantitative data that summarizes needs of both individual institutions and the industry as a whole with regard to attracting and retaining high-quality staff, as well as an environment that provides ongoing challenge and development opportunities.
To provide a resource kit that will assist individual libraries with the necessary data for assessing and addressing their own human resource needs in a proactive manner.
To provide the necessary data for an efficient, effective and national strategy on the part of both institutions and professional associations to address the shifts in the library workforce over the next five to ten years.
To assist with the building of coalitions on a national level that will be able to respond to the library human resource situation on a long-term basis.