Written By: Tony Saadat, President & CEO of Soutron Global
The transformation in knowledge services (KS) over the past several years has been fast and the future is not gearing down. The terms used to describe today’s information professionals, their areas of responsibility and their positions are as varied as the organizations for which they work. The one constant in these expanding roles and duties is that the supporting organization’s own mission and business goals govern every corporate information center.
Role of Information Professionals
Let’s examine the changing role of the librarian or knowledge services manager. The new generation information professional must serve as an agent of change. Information managers must be marketers, educators, collaborators, and politicians. Library managers are no longer only managing physical and staff resources. The leaders of our information centers are now required to evolve their areas of responsibility to ensure their future. They must be negotiators and business analysts, able to define the value of information services in a manner their organization can understand.
The roles of information professionals will continue to transform due to the electronic shift and other influencing factors such as delivery methods and services provided. The future of the library requires a continual evolution by information professionals. This evolution influences the necessary skills for librarians, services offered and the method by which they deliver those services. As content creation continues in the electronic medium the physical space will be less important than virtual access to information. The increase in electronically-created content means that information users rely on the skills of information professionals to manage the influx of data from all inbound streams: e-mail, social media and traditional sources in new media. Content management requires expertise in not only physical items but also the many electronic media that abound, both internal and external to an organization.
Skills of Information Professionals
The skills required for information professionals are less traditional today. Desired qualifications have more to do with communication and behavioral skills than organizing and retrieving information. Those core skills are still necessary but organizations are seeking the able individual who can communicate with and relate to his or her clients. In-depth information technology ability is another area of great importance for the new generation librarian. Expanded roles result in new or extended services such as embedded librarians, who are co-located with their internal clients.
Technology evolution is the general influencing factor in every information professional’s life. Information professionals will continue to develop their technical skills and rely on their knowledge and understanding of information structure to help organizations choose the right online tools to meet the information needs of their customers. It most will include cloud applications and ever-expanding Web technologies. Traditional information vendors use new technology to improve the offerings for information consumers and the librarian will be the one taking charge of knowing what’s available and how to use it.
The future of knowledge services depends upon the ability to quantify the existence, evolve staff roles and project the continued and growing need for professionals who collect, organize, analyze and disseminate information. Understanding the organization’s mission and business goals and aligning knowledge services to meet those goals in the future. The information professionals must lead their services into the future.