International Seminar

Tomorrow is T-Shaped

The aims and objectives:

The international seminar aimed to discuss how the changes on the labour market would affect libraries and librarians in the coming years. The organisers consider that it is the right moment to address the competencies that are expected from library staff in the near and more distant future. We are recruiting and training our future staff already today, thus we should be able to anticipate the skills and competencies needed by libraries as well as perceive the changes on the labour market on a larger scale in order to be competitive in recruitment.

Project overview:

The seminar consisted of two presentation sessions and ended with a discussion panel.

The event gathered 338 registered participants from 20 countries.

The keynote speaker was the Estonian engineer and investor Rainer Sternfeld who contemplated how can libraries remain special in the evolution of knowledge. He considered that librarians of the future would be rather guides, helping people to structure their knowledge and teaching them read efficiently.

Dr. Juan D. Machin-Mastromatteo from Mexico gave a philosophical reflection on the mission of libraries. He assured that technology is not something to replace librarians but allows us to do more with the library’s resources. He stressed that it is necessary to dynamise the library.

The first session was completed by Erik Boekesteijn, who talked about innovative and creative future libraries. He noted that the elements of the 21st century library are very diverse – stories and storytelling gains importance. His recommendations were – let go and be more open, connect people with collections and stories, welcome partners from outside.

The second session gave an overview of the skills and competencies needed in Icelandic and Latvian libraries. Ingibjörg Steinunn Sverrisdóttir and Ágústa Pálsdóttir from Iceland spoke about the changes in library work and the impact it has had and will have on the competencies required from librarians. Agnese Pašāne from the National Library of Latvia spoke about the professional training system for librarians in the country and the surveys her library has carried out to identify the needs of librarians with respect to training. The session was completed by Urve Mets from Estonia who gave an insight into Estonian OSKA studies – an anticipation and monitoring system for labour and skills demand.

The seminar ended with a discussion panel which focused on the expectations of the state towards libraries. The panellists talked about the need for content creation in native languages, the need to ensure that the development of technology does not exclude people. They also discussed the challenges faced by increasingly versatile libraries in terms of staff development.

Participant Quotes: 


Head of International Information &Cooperation Department,  Vernadskyi National Library of Ukraine


The Vernadskyi National Library of Ukraine recognizes the high professional level of the National Library of Estonia staff in organising the seminar. First of all, the topicality of its theme – the questions arised in the seminar covered all the spheres of library activities in modern society, the role and place of a librarian in the system of education and communications, the special role of the library in using the world information resources for the interest of social development. In the frame of the seminar, all the presentations and discussions, even separate comments were interesting, but I would like to point out the presentations by Rainer Sternfeld and Dr. Juan D. Machin-Mastromatteo – they were of special importance for analyzing the new trends in the professional activities of a librarian: the methods of reading and education in the digital society, increasing of possibilities for technological practices in the use of digitized library collections, the necessity of supporting a communicative practice of the library for the sector „library-librarian-user“. The participants from the Vernadskyi National Library of Ukraine were especially interested in the issues on using social media, webportals and increasing role of artificial intellect in practical activities of a modern library.

The information received during the seminar is under discussion among Ukrainian library community and will be presented for practical implementation in our work.

No doubt that the seminar at the National Library of Estonia is an event of great importance from professional point of view, especially during COVID-19 when libraries must work out new approaches to strengthen their role for development of the society. It is our great pleasure to thnak the National Library of Estonia, every member of its staff involved in the organization of this event for their enthusiasm, professionalism and hospitality.


Dr. Aira Lepik

Head of Information Science Master Programme

Tallinn University, Estonia


The theme of the seminar was topical and as I am engaged with the development of an international Master’s programme in information science at the Tallinn University, I was very much interested in the international coverage of these issues. The geographical representation of speakers gave the seminar a multi-faceted dimension. The interpretation of a library as a space and place both by Dr. Juan D. Machin-Mastromatteo and Erik Boekesteijn was a good reminder of the themes of new librarianship or even participatory librarianship (as by David Lankes). However, I would have wished to hear a more modern approach and learn about the opinion of the speakers regarding the needs for developing the T-shaped competence as well as possibilities to apply it in libraries.

The presentation from Iceland focused on the country’s library system, in my opinion it could rather have been the background and more attention paid on competencies.

The first speaker Rainer Sternfeld is a well-known visionary and motivational speaker in Estonia who gave a good start for the seminar, yet the format he used (looking into the future proceeding from the present moment, link the results of surveys with our own experience) was not followed by all speakers.

I would also have wished the moderator to pay more attention to questions and comments submitted via Slido at the end of the sessions and the panel.

To sum up – I am grateful for the opportunity to participate and I am looking forward to the seminar videos, it would be a good material to use in my teaching practice.

The National Library created a Facebook event for the seminar at

Announcement of the seminar was disseminated in various professional lists and posted on the library’s website together with the programme and registration link, after the seminar the website offers a short overview of this event and provides a link to the library’s YouTube channel for subsequent viewing: