Internet Librarians – reasons to be cheerful

We've been talking to speakers at ILI about the challenges and opportunities facing library and information professionals. Several key themes emerged.

Rapid change brings new opportunities

Despite the many challenges faced by information professionals as they work to meet the ever-changing needs of users, what emerged from our conversations were a love of the profession and an appreciation of the opportunities it offers to be innovative and collaborative. 

According to Helen Clegg (speaking in session B102 Service redesign) " much change going on ...opens up new avenues for people with library, research and knowledge skills".  Ann Ostman also recognises the opportunities brought about by new tools - there are leadership opportunities in open access and open channels up for grabs. 

Trevor Dawes (of Princeton University Library) agrees: "despite the changes in the way people seek, find and use information - libraries and librarians will always be here to play a role in meeting those information needs.   It is true that changes in technology often make it easier for people to find information, but we continue to provide vetted, quality information that helps others create knowledge"

Re-invention and transformation

Helen Clegg, the Knowledge Team Director for the Procurement & Analytic Solutions' unit at international management consultancy A.T. Kearney will be explaining how her team reinvented its research and knowledge services.  "It's important to review service offerings on a regular basis because we are working in a rapidly changing landscape", she says. 

Five years ago the Knowledge Team's world comprised of collecting, storing, retrieving internal documents for users and conducting research on procurement-related topics. The arrival of the SharePoint collaboration platform, together with the exponential increase in information output and continuing growth of the unit meant that suddenly the old paradigm was no longer viable. Since this tipping point, what has emerged is a much more flexible, dynamic and scalable operating model, resulting in new and innovative ways for the team to provide their customers with high quality, cost-competitive research and with solutions for sharing knowledge and insight.  The knowledge framework and toolbox now include a successful podcast series disseminated internally and externally, a global wiki with user-generated content.

For the Knowledge Team, the evolution has meant the opportunity to learn new skills including building information architecture, user motivation, and managing third party services.

A collaborative profession

The speakers, with their variety of backgrounds and sectors, have one key thing in common - their positive attitudes to the profession.  For Trevor Dawes, the opportunity the profession gives you to help someone succeed is one of the best parts of the job.

Another great thing is the collaborative nature of those in the profession.  For Trevor, this 'collegiality' means "If there is something that I need, and am unable to find, I know I can turn to my librarian colleagues for help.  I always feel great when we are able to get together and share knowledge".  Ann Ostman agrees.  She says this sense of 'connectedness' is really exciting as it supports the sharing of ideas and inspiration. 

Hugh Murphy, who will be sharing his successful Kindle story, says, "In our profession, people are generally very happy to share knowledge and help each other out. And they generally really want to help users - which, when you consider the importance of access to information, is both heartening and necessary".

Internet Librarian International 2012 takes place at London Olympia's Conference Centre on 30-31 October.

Image courtesy of Jason Hargrove via Flickr.