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5 reasons the corporate workplace needs librarians

5 reasons the corporate workplace needs librarians

“Today’s corporate information professionals are experts in finding and procuring information sources, developing intranets and websites, creating taxonomies and indexing, managing internal information, training and carrying out both proactive and reactive research and analysis at a high level. This doesn’t mean they don’t have to constantly prove their worth.

But there are reasons why their organizations should value them. Here are just five:

1. Our special talent is finding authoritative information

End-users can be frighteningly easy to satisfy when they carry out their own searches. Issues such as authority, impartiality, accuracy and currency are forgotten when speed and ease of searching is a priority.

If all they are looking for is somebody’s website, this is not a big problem. But if it means they offer services or advice to clients based on out-of-date legislation or biased sources, this could be embarrassing and expensive. Information professionals who specialize in research start consulting the huge databank of sources in their heads almost as soon as they receive a request (or rather, as soon as they have worked out what the requestor is really looking for).

Using the right source and search technique and understanding what they need to bring back isn’t simple, and it saves end-users hours of fruitless work.

2. Our other special talent is organising and summarising it

Knowing what pieces of information belong together, because they are about the same thing, and describing them in a way that they can be found, may not sound difficult. But it is a skill lacking in many people who are otherwise brilliant at writing insightful content.

We don’t tend to talk about classification or cataloguing to our users, but our ability to assign information to categories using language they understand helps them find information all the same. And our pithy summaries mean they don’t have to open an item to know whether or not it is useful.

3. We understand information vendors

Procurement departments are often excellent at negotiating large corporate contracts covering years at a time. But they are usually terrible at sifting through different suppliers’ information products, evaluating their usefulness, currency and authority, and assessing how many site licences would be worth the prices charged.

Where end-users are responsible, contracts proliferate for similar or identical products, usually assigned to the most prestigious in the organization, regardless of how much they need them.

Information professionals have the skills to bring good-value products into the organization and make sure that end-user access is seamless, regardless of the technology they are using.

4. We don’t have a departmental agenda

Content producers know perfectly well their documents, policies and communications are the most important information in an organization. It takes an information professional to assess the content in the light of the questions people in the organization are likely to ask, in particular ‘why do I need to read this?’

Information professionals can take a ‘helicopter’ view of corporate information and make sure everyone in the organization finds the information they need, and understands what it is for.

5. We are dedicated, cheap and don’t require constant glory

Nobody goes into the information profession for the money. Instead we choose it because it allows us to practice our skills to help people find what they need. To do this well, we stay up-to-date with developments and are in touch with a network of peers.

We don’t require high status, fat bonuses or even thanks (much of the time) to stay motivated, which is just as well. Many corporate information professionals earn a fraction of the salaries earned by colleagues of similar experience. Frankly, we’re a bargain.”

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Posted on: November 25, 2014, 6:29 am Category: Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Mirjana martic said

    Well, I would agree with 4 first points but the fifth does bug me. Marketing oneself by pointing the cheap side is rather clumsy Dedicated yes, not requiring constant glory, yes, but saying that we are cheap its counterproductive.IMHO.