Purpose This paper analyses job ads as relatively accessible indicators of the knowledge, skills and competencies required of librarians by employers. It then uses a framework provided by the literature on professional jurisdiction to examine what may be trends and shaping factors for the Library and Information Studies (LIS) profession with regard to jurisdiction in a changing information landscape.Design/methodology/approach Job ads were examined in two separate studies; one comparing job ads in Australia and the US over eight weeks in 2004, and the other looking at one month snapshots of Australian job ads in 1974, 1984, 1994 and 2004. The text from the job ads was analysed using a content analysis software package. The literature on professional jurisdiction provided an interpretive framework.Findings The Australian snapshots over time showed that there is an increasing lack of clarity about the skills and competencies required of librarians. The American job ads seemed to rank jurisdictional knowledge and professional qualifications more highly than their Australian counterparts. Interpersonal skills, behavioural characteristics and technical services skills are in demand in both countries.Originality/value In addition to reporting on the knowledge, skills and competencies required of librarians, by applying an interpretive framework from the literature on professional jurisdiction the paper exposes some of the challenges ahead for the LIS profession.Research limitations/implications This research used a small number of sources and a relatively small number of ads. It is acknowledged that job ads are only one source of information about knowledge, skills and competencies.