NASIG Adopts Core Competencies for Scholarly Communication Librarians

Scholarly communications issues and initiatives are of increasing importance to contemporary library organizations. This is evidenced by the recent substantial increase in the numbers of scholarly communication librarian positions. Finlay, Tsou, and Sugimoto (2015) found that positions for scholarly communication librarians, as a percentage of total open librarian positions, more than doubled between 2006 and 2014. Organizations are clearly investing in these roles, but despite this investment, “scholarly communication” remains a broad and often amorphous term with little consistencies in the job duties of the scholarly communication librarian (SCL) between institutions. Clarifying these roles will assist those creating position descriptions for SCLs, as well as iSchools in the development of curricula.


In 2014 the executive board of NASIG established a task force charged with developing core competencies for scholarly communication librarians. The creation of the task force was timely, as NASIG was actively expanding its vision and mission beyond serials to include the entire information lifecycle, including scholarly communications. Beyond the development of core competencies, the expanded vision and mission offer a professional home for scholarly communication librarians in which they may engage with other librarians, publishers, and vendors collaboratively. One should keep this in mind when reading the core competencies, as the task force recognized the need to address Open Access advocacy in an important but non-ideological way.


The Core Competencies for Scholarly Communication Librarians Task force began their work sifting through hundreds of job ads and position descriptions emphasizing various aspects of scholarly communication librarianship. These were obtained through calls to germane listservs, the ALA Joblist archive, and partnerships with other groups obtaining position descriptions and job ads for similar purposes. To address the broad and amorphous aspects of scholarly communication, the Task Force identified four themes found in all SCLs and five areas in which the SCL may focus, as determined by existing strengths and organizational needs.


The full Document may be found here:


The Core Competencies outlined in this document will be interesting to revisit going forward. Scholarly communication is a rapidly emerging and evolving field, and I suspect that it matures, we will see fewer general entry-level “scholarly communication librarian” positions and more positions with a stronger focus on the areas of emphasis (eg. Data Management Librarians or Publishing Services Librarians). Moreover, new trends in scholarly communication will likely emerge and should be added to the core competencies. For example, at some point, the core competencies should address the recent explosion in OER services and resources commonly associated with the SCL, potentially as a new area of emphasis.