Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Career Agility: Transforming Knowledge and Expertise into Strategic Value

In early December I attended the Military Libraries Workshop, sponsored by the SLA Military Libraries Division.  The Workshop sessions were held at the Von Braun Center, in Huntsville, Alabama.

The next several blog posts will be my notes from the talks.
Deb Hunt, SLA President and Chief Librarian at the Mechanics' Institute, San Francisco
December 10, 2013

Deb opened up by talking about a joint report from SLA and Financial Times – Evolving Value of the Information Professional and the five essential attributes of the modern information professional - http://ftcorporate.ft.com/sla/ (registration required to download a copy.)

From the Executive Summary:

Some key themes emerged from the survey data and in-depth interviews which underpin this report:

1. What worries knowledge providers most is that an increasing number of their colleagues are bypassing them and accessing the information they need directly (e.g. using Google). Apart from undermining information professionals, this creates significant organisational risk. The second major, but related, challenge for information professionals is demonstrating their value to the business. Many are also struggling to meet organisational expectations in an environment of declines in budget, IT investment and headcount.

2. Information users (e.g. executives) suffer from information overload. Their challenge is a perceived lack of up-to-date, relevant, decision-ready information, delivered quickly enough for them to make use of it.

3. The majority of knowledge providers currently overestimate the level of value they provide. Overall, 55% of knowledge providers say they add “a lot of value”, yet only 34% of executives are willing to say the same of them.

4. But executives appear more ready than ever to engage with information professionals. Some 49% of information users expect the level of interaction and engagement between knowledge providers and senior management to increase in the next three years.

5. One key way in which this engagement is set to increase is through the use of “embedded” information professionals. This will see information departments shrink or disappear, but will also dismantle many organisational barriers. Rather than being siloed in libraries, information professionals will become team members within departments that were once internal customers.

6. Communication, understanding and decision-ready information are rated (by all respondents) as the most important attributes for modern information professionals. They are also among the areas with the largest shortfalls in performance ratings between users and providers, so information professionals should focus on improving these attributes above all others.

Deb's key points: 

  • Librarians and information professionals need to be defined in terms of the value and benefit they bring to an organization.
  • What value do we bring to our organization?  What do we do that no one else does?
  • Align your library with the mission and strategic goals of your organization.
  • Engage your users on their terms.
  • Make yourself indispensable to your clients!

Invest in yourself!
  • Step up to the plate and plan your own professional development.
  • AIIM - Association for Information and Image Management – has a lot of free webinars and other training on Enterprise Content Management, Big Data and other topics.  A lot of the training is provided by vendors – but it is still helpful.
  • Take a look at Career Sustainability on Linked-In – http://linkd.in/pqkjzp for Librarian Career development podcasts, books and discussions.
  • SLA offers certification in Knowledge Management, Competitive Intelligence and Copyright Management.  They also have suggested competencies for Librarians and information professionals in the 21st Century.

  • What skills do I currently have that can expand my career potential?
  • What skills can I learn or improve in order to move ahead?
  • How and when will I take those steps to improve?

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