The Significance of Developing Soft Skills in Today's World

To meet the innovative and constructive challenges of LIS professionals need to play very innovative and constructive role with innovative and constructive skill sets. In recent years 'soft skills' has become a buzz word, frequently discussed and debated within the media and among Librarians across sectors, irrespective of the boundaries and functional areas. These days the term soft skill is floating here and there. Hence, what are soft skills, importance of soft skills in Library profession, how to acquire and incorporate these skills into Library profession etc, discussed in this paper.

Keywords: Soft skills, communication, Leadership, Team management, Ethics, Librarian


The role of libraries and librarians are changing rapidly due to science and technology in all fields. Prior to this, library professional jobs were limited to library boundaries. But now, it has spread across the globe. In this situation library professionals are required to learn and understand more technical terms, concepts, skills and feel comfortable to perform their jobs to provide satisfactory information. Hence, apart from their educational practices, library professionals required different kinds of skills and competency to provide right information to the right person at the right time. Soft skills for a library professional are very important element which helps to grow and success in the profession.

For today’s librarians having professional degrees in Library and information Science is not sufficient unlike in the past. Librarians needs to have multidimensional aptitude in the areas of technical work, Administrative work and also in providing user oriented services along with soft skills. Like in any other profession, soft skills are required in day –to-day working for carrying their routine job more effectively. The Librarians working in large organizations like corporate organizations ex: Corporate offices are already practicing these skills through by experience or training.

Meaning of Soft Skills

It is interesting to note that most dictionaries do not even have any entry for the term soft skills. The reason could be that this terminology is recent in origin. However, there have been attempts to define it in different ways. According to a glossary of a certain business dictionary, it has been defined as ‘Skills needed to perform jobs where job requirements are defined in terms of expected outcomes, but the process to achieve the outcomes may vary widely; usually, an area of performance that does not have a definite beginning and end’. Here, one can note that these skills lay emphasis on personal management skills. We the librarians are required to develop such attitudes and behaviours that enhance our personal growth, and make us an adept team player. ‘Soft skills are about projecting oneself and one's professional skills in the best possible way, and taking a holistic view of things.

They are about how you interact with and react to others when you come in contact with them; they enable you to zero in on the most important point you want to make, but in an attractive and charming manner’. Soft skills are not only about self projection but also focus on strengthening oneself from within so that one's acceptance in a socio-cultural framework- both in the personal as well as professional arena -is optimum. Keeping this in mind, it can be said that soft skills have a bearing on our intellectual (or cognitive) skills determined by our IQ (Intelligence Quotient) as well as EQ Emotional Intelligence Quotient) or EI (Emotional Intelligence) as it is popularly known. According to Dr. Richard E. Boyatzis, "At its most basic, emotional intelligence is, literally the intelligent use of emotions". In 1990, psychologists Peter Salvoes and John D. Mayer coined the term 'emotional intelligence' and defined it as "the subset of social intelligence that involve the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one's thinking and action".

Acquiring the Set of Right Skills

Psychologists, management experts and spiritual leaders, from Daniel Goleman to Donald Trump to Dalai Lama, agree that a combination of soft skills have a great impact on one's level of success in life. Each of these may use different vocabulary but they are all emphasizing on same thing. Overall, soft skills play a vital role in one's professional success. They help one excel at the workplace and their importance cannot be undermined in this age of culturally diverse workplaces.

The essence of education is opportunity. The essence of the librarian’s technical ability is also an opportunity. This opportunity can materialize only with the command over soft skills. It sets the librarians a step higher and makes them stand out of the crowd. Having the required interpersonal skills provides a must-have foundation for career growth. They give the ability to take advantage of challenges and opportunities that will come on our way. The hard skills get the librarians in the running and soft skills get the librarians noticed.

11 February 2020
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