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FreePint BlogAll Things To All People?

Tuesday, 13th November 2012 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Scott Brown


It continues to be clear that information professionals bring valuable skills and services to our users in a variety of ways. But should we try to be all things to all people - or do a few things really well? The question continues to plague us, and also continues to offer us flexibility and opportunity.


Back in September I (half-jokingly) suggested we don our superhero capes – because it was, and continues to be, clear to me that we bring valuable skills and services to our users in a variety of ways. We’re more than just gatekeepers to information, and these articles bring forth some applications for our skills.  

First, James Mullan looks at SharePoint, this time from the perspective of law librarians. Referring to an AALL/ILTA white paper, James looks at the part law librarians play within an organisation – namely that law librarians should be "agents for change and challenge themselves to think beyond their current skill sets". (I can almost hear the rustle of capes.) Considering the amount of additional staff that the author of the white paper feels is necessary to oversee the effective deployment of SharePoint – including a KM developer, a junior web developer, an application developer, a systems administrator and a data steward – there is no shortage of ways that information professionals can help SharePoint be more valuable in the organisation.

Outside of SharePoint, law librarians and information professionals within law firms have a variety of roles - understanding how to create, record and store information effectively; capturing knowledge that is being generated within the organisation; distributing and making information accessible and promoting information sharing, among others.

On the mobile front, James also looks at Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) policies – an emerging aspect of BYOD where the organisation provides the smart device and the employee is allowed to install their own programs and apps for access. Both COPE and BYOD are emerging areas of play for information professionals.

So many areas where we could get involved. Yet as Lee Rainie, speaking at the Internet Librarian Conference in Monterey (USA), put forth, the “meta-question” that many information professionals and organisations are struggling with is: should we try to be all things to all people - or do a few things really well? If the latter – what are those few things?

I think the question continues to plague us, and also continues to offer us flexibility and opportunity. If we have to choose – and at some point, we do have to choose – where is it that we would put our focus and our skills?

As always, I welcome your comments.


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Scott Brown is the owner of Social Information Group (, an independent information practice that focuses on the effective use of social networking tools for sharing and finding information. His forthcoming book, "Social Information: Gaining Competitive and Business Information Using Social Media Tools" will be published in late 2012. He has worked with libraries, Fortune 500 companies, startups, government organisations and individuals to help them understand and effectively use these tools for their clients, and to drive increased visibility and return on information resources. He has over 20 years of experience in library and information organisations, in public, academic and corporate settings. Scott is a regular speaker nationally on many areas of information work. He is also a professional coach.

You can follow him on Twitter at @socialinfo.

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