09 June 2009

What I've Read Lately...and So Should You

Here are a few articles that I think you should be reading. Most are from a great issue of Information Outlook (Special Libraries Association’s magazine) on the future of the profession.

Oder, Norman, MLS: Hire Ground? Library Journal 134(10):44-46, 1 June 2009. Discusses how economics and new technology may lead to fewer degreed librarians being hired and used by libraries. “Consultant Joan Frye Williams tells libraries not to put their most skilled people at the desk requiring the most interaction with the public. ‘We need to separate intake, which does not require a master’s, from execution, which does,’ she says.” But can non-professionals do an adequate reference interview?

Frey, Thomas, Rethinking the Post-Recession Specialty Library, Information Outlook 13(4):15-19, June 2009.
“…libraries will begin to experiment with a version of the digital library I’ve termed ‘the electronic outpost.’ Electronic outposts will evolve over time around the core services most relevant to a particular user group. Here are some examples of new library functions: search command centers, podcast studios, vidcast studios, virtual world stations, gamer stations, mini-theaters, cyber cafes.” Only one of these—the first—is a typical library function of today.

Huffman, Karen, Deborah Hunt, Nerida Hart, and Daniel Lee, Adding Value, Going Global, and Serving Smaller Clients, Information Outlook 134(10):27-31, June 2009.
Four SLA members were asked “to share their views on (a) the most significant developments that will affect the industry and profession and (b) how SLA can best help them and their colleagues prepare for the future.” Hart (Land and Water Australia).“I believe libraries, as we now know them, will not exist; the need for information professionals, however, will grow. They will be co-located with their clients and work side by side with them on projects to obtain better outcomes for their parent organization.” (This is how she works—her organization has no library.) “We need to educate information professionals not to expect to be located in a physical library but to think outside what has been done in the past.”

Abram, Stephen, Blogging as a Special Librarian, Information Outlook 134(10):47-48, June 2009.
Advice for newbies to blogging. “We should all be communicating regularly with our users, colleagues, patrons, markets and just plain folks. Invest part of yourself and your personality in your blog. If you’re real and authentic, people will be attracted to your advice.”

Schacter, Debbie, Adjusting to Changes in User and Client Expectations, Information Outlook 134(10):55-57, June 2009.
“Will the world be without information professionals in the future? I doubt it. Will the nature of the work or our interactions with our customers be different? Undoubtedly.”

Latham, John, Reaching Those Who Search (and Fail) on Their Own, Information Outlook 134(10):59, June 2009.
“Even if you provide excellent service, it will only be apparent to those within your organization who have benefited from it. You have to get the word out to those within your organization who have not used your services—and especially to senior management.” An Outsell survey shows that the search failure of most information workers is nearly 40 percent.

Note: Is it my imagination or are there a lot more articles in Information Outlook from people outside the library world?—regular columns excepted. While it’s good to hear from others, why aren’t there more articles by SLA members? Aren’t we submitting them?

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