A survey of New Zealand academic reference librarians: Current and future skills and competencies

Brenda Chawner, Gillian Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


A survey of New Zealand academic subject/reference librarians was conducted in mid-2011 to identify the most highly valued knowledge, skills and competencies of reference librarians working in libraries in the tertiary sector. The project was part of an international collaborative project involving 13 countries. The results from New Zealand show that serving academic library customers requires not only traditional 'reference' skills, but also skills in customer service, technology support, and training. Good communication skills were also rated highly by respondents, and the high value placed on adaptability/flexibility shows that most respondents expect their roles to continue to change in the next decade. Software troubleshooting skills were also considered important. The results also suggest that traditional paper-based reference sources are expected to become much less important than online ones. There is also a shift towards using social media to interact with customers, and a focus on building sustainable relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian Academic & Research Libraries
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic libraries
  • Library surveys
  • New Zealand
  • Professional knowledge
  • Professional skills
  • Reference services

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