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Change as opportunity
Thursday, 10th May 2012
Carolyn J. Sosnowski
Information managers and other information professionals may not have fully realised that our talents apply outside the walls of the traditional research or library setting, but by now we are, or should be, on our way to reinventing and expanding our sphere of influence.
If we in the information industry have learned anything in the past few years, it’s that change is the only constant. From my vantage point as Director of Education and Information Services at the Special Libraries Association, I have seen information professionals challenged by the economy and the subsequent changes in their organisations. These changes often lead to role transition, career redirection, creative solutions and a focus on the core competencies that we as info pros possess. We may not have fully realised that our talents apply outside the walls of the traditional research or library setting, but by now we are, or should be, on our way to reinventing and expanding our sphere of influence.
Each of the articles in the May issue of FUMSI Magazine touches on the theme of shifting to accommodate external forces and adapting to changes in our and our clients’ environments. How can we, as knowledge and information managers, continue to add value and show our worth? How do we stay relevant? By keeping pace with change, being creative, and exhibiting a willingness to seize opportunities where and when they arise.
Deb Hunt’s article on digital asset management (DAM) is a perfect example of how information professionals can use their expertise to move beyond the borders of “the library” and use their skills to manage major projects that might fall outside the usual terrain, organise information across departmental areas, and create better formats and access tools. She has created a roadmap for readers thinking about stretching in the digital direction, and lists some key strengths that info pros bring to any project. Deb’s description of the processes involved in DAM will hopefully make you think, “I can do that”.
We are experiencing the rise and rise of mobile technology. How familiar are you with the apps your clients are using to gather information? Are your clients aware that apps go beyond Angry Birds and MLB? After reviewing several apps offered by government agencies in the United States, with a brief exploration of apps that originate in other countries, Africa Hands has a few suggestions that can put you in between your stakeholders and their apps, providing an opportunity for you to recommend apps pertinent to their areas of interest and demonstrate that your reach, and knowledge, extend to the devices they carry with them.
Camille Reynolds faced a challenge when her law firm reduced the physical size of the firm’s libraries. The staff’s creative solution to this change in space was the development of a specialised eLibrary in which the idea of shelf browsing by colour and size was rethought and transformed into an online format. The attorneys’ penchant for a graphical representation of resources was recognised by the librarians, who were able to bring a visual bookshelf to the desktop. The project was accomplished with the enthusiastic cooperation and assistance of two product vendors. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading about how Camille used branding, continuous communication, and good timing to ensure the success of the solution to the space issue and the opportunity to bring better service to the libraries’ clients.
In order to demonstrate their value, many researchers are now providing analysis of research results, complete with graphs and recommendations, instead of doing the simple “rip and ship” routine of running a search and sending the file to the requestor. In her description of how to conduct a win/loss analysis, presented here as a method of improving sales, Ellen Naylor shows us how we can use our interview and detective skills as an opportunity to contribute to the bottom line. You might propose to your sales and marketing departments that there’s more to your list of talents than meets the eye.
Change can be difficult. In fact, it may make you want to run in the other direction. Although it can be hard to see at first, change is also an opportunity to be innovative and to reinvent what you do and how you do it. Take a few ideas from the stories described here, and think about how you can apply them in your own situation. You might be surprised at what you come up with.
By Carolyn J. Sosnowski
Carolyn J. Sosnowski is the Director of Education and Information Services at the Special Libraries Association. She began at SLA as an information specialist, conducting research for staff and assisting members with requests for information on topics such as the value proposition, salary benchmarks, and strategic planning. Currently, her primary role is planning and executing professional development programming for information professionals through SLA's Click University. Carolyn develops and produces several webinars each year, administers the increasingly popular copyright and knowledge management certificate programmes, and is the content manager for SLA's annual conference. She is a member of SLA's Information Ethics Advisory Council, which in 2010 produced professional ethics guidelines for SLA members, and is also part of the task force that is updating SLA's competencies for information professionals. Prior to her joining SLA in 2003, Carolyn worked in both for-profit and non-profit organisations, including Medco, Mercer, the Corporate Executive Board, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in a variety of information management roles. Follow her on Twitter.
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