'The library is everywhere'

Some key themes emerged at Internet Librarian International 2011.

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Expanded roles, constant skill development

We need to expand the definition of what it is we do, Ulla de Stricker told delegates at the final panel session at ILI 2011.  We need to expand the definition of what it is we do and not be defined by the librarian word but look for the many opportunities calling out for our skills sets.  Collaboration skills, the ability to talk to technical experts and to create informal teams were mentioned.  We need to be persuasive and be comfortable to learn as we go along. We must keep up with our technical skills too - to be able to manipulate and present data sets for example.  We should keep an eye on technical innovations that are 2-3 years out and watch out for trends that will impact our audiences and ourselves, said Brian Kelly. Tony Hirst believes we can do much more with IT, metrics and text and data analysis.   We should be developing our technical skills and sharing lessons with our users.  We can show them how we can help them navigate complex information landscapes. We should, he said, "use appropriate technology - and appropriate [take] IT from others".

Life in an attention economy

The self service information culture poses a dilemma for information professionals.  We need to understand how people interact with information.  We also need to be ready and able to develop media and information literate populations (issues raised by Kayo Chang, Maria Cotera and others - see blog post). Brian Kelly reminded us that we should also be talking about information law and the implications of collective intelligence processes.

Crowds and individuals

We need to ensure our users get to the content and people they need - even if they can't verbalise what it is they want.  This depends on finding new ways to develop our understanding of customers.  We need to engage with the hearts of our users and understand exactly how and why they are using our services (or not).  Case studies included 'count the traffic' methodologies (Cathrine Fjelstad of Gjovik University College) which can provide valuable data that can also help you benchmark with other libraries.   Website analysis, as described by Jennifer Phillips-Bacher (Wellcome Library) can help you identify under-served (or over served) audiences.  Observation of and discussion with customers, truly understanding the environment in which they are working can help you deliver the services that can make a difference to them - whether they are school students (Donna Saxby at the Internaional School of Amsterdam), consultants working in a global organisation (KPMG) or lawyers (Andrew Woolfson).  Context is all.  Ensure your services and products reflect the brand of the organisation (Woolfson) and simulate and support the real way that people work. 

'Be bold'

One sentiment came up several times at the conference.  Many speakers urged the audience to 'just try something'.  We should not be afraid to experiment or frightened of failure.  Andrew Woolfson told us to 'be bold'.

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