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A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend my third SLA conference, which this year was held in Phoenix, Arizona.

SLA 1The European Chapter of SLA generously funded me to attend the conference as its President, but I am additionally grateful to the SLA Europe Board as they nominated me for the SLA Rising Star award, which I received at the conference.

This award is given to new professionals who demonstrate potential for leadership and innovation within the profession, and I received it on the basis of my volunteer work for SLA Europe and for presenting at and organising the SLA, CLSIG and BIALL Graduate Open Day in previous years.

I realise this is no Oscar and that it may come across cheesy, but I really do mean this and want to publicly thank my mentors (and friends!) Tracy Z. Maleeff and Sam Wiggins. Tracy and Sam have both encouraged me to constantly challenge myself professionally, to volunteer in leadership positions at SLA and to present at conferences, even though I used to have a phobia of public speaking. SLA has been a wonderful part of my life for the past 5 years and I really wouldn’t have got to this point without them.

SLA 5

Receiving the award in front of 1,500 library and information professionals was a little nerve wracking to say the least, but when I did lift my eyes off the floor for one brief second to look at the audience applauding me, it really was a lovely and uplifting feeling! Receiving the award at the opening session was also great in the sense that many people who I spoke to later at the conference instantly knew who I was and congratulated me (in that easy going, not at all awkward, very American way!).

So now I have a very beautiful and shiny award sitting in my living room, but what happens next? My aim now is to try and keep progressing; to keep volunteering with SLA Europe, to keep being active in the profession, and to try and ensure that I have not peaked too early!

SLA 2

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Last week I attended an SLA event focused on the (fairly) recent publication of the SLA-FT report in to the modern information professional. It consisted of an interactive panel discussion, followed by networking with a lovely view of the River Thames, excellent company and some very delicious canapés.

The SLA and FT have collaborated on a research study to explore the evolving value of information management in today’s society, and published their results in Spring 2013. This primarily involved a survey asking the opinions of both information professionals (providers) and senior executives (users). The publication of the study can be found here and I would really, really recommend it to you as it gives a lot of food for thought!

The study suggests that there are 5 essential attributes for information professionals to strive for:

  1. Communicate your value
  2. Understand the drivers
  3. Manage the process
  4. Keep up on technical skills
  5. Provide decision-ready information

Stemming from these attributes, there are 12 actions or tasks that information professionals should complete to develop these attributes – and it is these 12 action points that the panell consisting of Sarah Farhi (Allen & Overy), Janice LaChance (SLA) and Stephen Phillips (Morgan Stanley), gave their thoughts and opinions and illustrated them with examples from their own work.

SLA 1Each panellist picked 3 of the action points to speak on, and then questions and discussion was opened to the floor. It was interesting how information professionals from different sectors viewed some of the action points so differently, particularly with decision-ready information (but I will expand on that later on).

Rather than describe the discussion as it happened, I think it makes more sense to cover the 12 action points in order, so that you can skip to the ones you’re most interested in.

1) Understand the business

This topic is largely hinted at in a number of the other actions, but here are 3 key points:

  • Understand the business and the practice of the customer, and then interpret the information for that user (to some extent!) with that context in mind.
  • Consider threats in the market and react to them before you are forced to act and it is to late
  • Fit our unique skills in to other areas of the business – for example, can our skills be used for risk mitigation?

2) Deliver decision-ready information

The debate on whether to be objective an provide all of the information available or to use your own opinion and analysis and provide decision ready information is a long and ongoing one. People value and trust the abilities of information professionals to provide their own opinions and analysis, and to render the information understandable to the user. Consider the context of the user and what their enquiry is for, and then present the information appropriately for them – don’t overload them with information which they won’t need.

This can be a tricky issue when it comes to an information service within a high risk environment – such as a law firm or financial services. Should we start interpreting information when we do not have law or finance degrees, and encroaching on the practitioners’ toes? If we did, we would have to carry the risk of our interpretation of what information our users need being incorrect, and potentially losing the firm their reputation and work. Sarah Farhi suggested that in these circumstances communications with your users is essential, and that reference interviews, although a historic tool, can be very useful for finding out what your users want and expect from you. Additionally, users are changing. Users previously wanted all possible information on the subject for them to filter themselves, but newer users used to Google and Wikipedia are happy with low level summaries.

3) Actively communication with your colleagues – Know your audience

It is important to know your audience, whether they are users, stakeholders or sponsors/advocates. Speak at their level (whether that is high or low) and use their language to send your message across at the most appropriate level.

Think about how you present yourself within your organisation – if you present yourself at a high partner level, people will see that, and you may be able to help parallel others leverage their products and goals in the hope they will do the same for you.

Make an effort to go to internal events and socialise with colleagues outside of the library service – hear it on the grapevine, learn about the organisation and what is concerning or bothering users.

4) Link your work to savings and profits

Make measurements of your performance relevant and relative to other parts of the business, such as by using unit costs like cost per hours. If you can, find out how you rank compared to other departments.

Also, be transparent and accountable to your own departments with the figures and costs of things.

5) Link your work to risk mitigation

As information professionals, we can provide an objective view within the firm with no agenda other than quality and ethicacy. We should instruct our users on good and reliable sources which they should be using, and equally, we need to teach users what they do not know by demonstrating our expertise, and what could go wrong if they use unreliable sources.

6) Proactively create solutions for the business

This can link to some extent to the action point of delivering decision-ready information. Sarah used the example of providing a picture with blobs to demonstrate the size of their various offices, which apparently the lawyers much preferred to the numbers. However, the risk here of presenting something so simple, is of not making the user understand fully how much work went in to the picture!

Additionally, you need to question your users of the utility of the information you provide – does it need to be repackaged? How exactly was the information used? This can be difficult if you are afraid of criticism, but ultimately it will makeyou more confident in the work you are doing and more valuable to your users.

7) Build relationships with key stakeholders

This is touched on in some of the other actions, but is primarily about integrating yourself as deeply as possible in to the business.

8) Be a technical mastermind

Make sure that you are better than your clients at technology! Customers may want to receive information from you in new and different ways, and you don’t want to create the impression of being old fashioned, so make sure you are aware of the current trends and keep your CPD current.

9) Go to the top

This is asking a lot. However, you need to know your value and most importantly be able to articulate it. To know and articulate your value, you have to know how you fit in to your organisation and how you contribute to its success, and you need to understand and be aware of the current goals and aims of the organisation. Additionally, to go to the top, you need to understand the bureaucracy and who are the key decision makers, and who influences those decision makers and who they listen to. Have an elevator pitch ready!

10) Walk the floors

Network, stay on the pulse of the business and seek out new opportunities to make a contribution.

11) Pursue initiatives that reduce the burden of stretched resources

  • Ensure that if you have self-service platforms, that they are being used efficiently.
  • Don’t feel that you have to do everything yourself – use your colleagues in different departments, and then offer your services in return. Recognise your own skills and knowledge that you have to offer!

12) Change your mindset

Changing your mindset can make many of the other 12 action points possible. Try to change your mindset to that of a business owner – think about what departments/services within your organisation you are a customer to, and can you use that to your advantage in any way? Think about your users as customers and give them a reason to use your service repeatedly.

I think it has been very useful to evaluate my work and my service against these action points, and consider how I may further improve on them. Coincidentally, I have an appraisal coming up at work and considering these actions points has been very helpful to me in setting myself some objectives and goals. It really was a fantastic presentation from an impressive panel, and overall a very enjoyable evening.

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Speakers: Hyoshin Kim (Douglas College), Don Roll (Alacra and SLA Europe President) and Catherine Lavallée-Welch (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse)
Moderator: Geraldine Clement-Stoneham.

This, along with the Rising stars and Fellows Roundtable, was my favourite session of the whole conference, which I have to confess was rather a pleasant surprise!

This panel session was full of educational (and in many cases entertaining) stories of mistakes made when working with people from other cultures, and lots of useful information and practical advice for working in different parts of the world.

Panel

Don, Catherine, Hyoshin and Geraldine

The session was in the style of a chat show, with Geraldine Clement-Stoneham acting as the Graham Norton-like host asking the panel searching questions, and Hyoshin Kim (Douglas College), Don Roll (Alacra and SLA Europe President) and Catherine Lavallée-Welch (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) as the celebrity guests being interviewed. As with the Graham Norton show, there was a lot of audience participation in terms of both asking questions and sharing stories from their experiences of working in different cultures.The practical tips and insights I got from this session would have been near impossible for me to obtain from any book as they came from a number of different people’s real life experiences. I think this is a vital aspect of what makes the SLA, with such a varied international membership who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences, so beneficial and valuable as an association, and is something they should try and make more use of.

Culture

The first question Geraldine had for our very varied panel, was what exactly is culture?

Hyoshin Kim, who to give you a bit of background was born in Korea, has lived in Russia, Kazakhstan, England and currently lives in Canada, stated that the term ‘culture’ is a confusing one in the English language. It can be appropriated to mean or apply to anything; whether it is about more food, music and national customs, or even about work or librarians! As such, it is more of an attitude or a way of mind, rather than a thing in itself.

Don Roll highlighted that there are traditionally 8 aspects of culture, but they can include aspects such as age, corporate, country, education, gender, religion and arts.

Don then used his experience as an American who has lived in London for over 20 years (he thinks of himself as English with an American accent), to talk about how the culture of the City (the financial district of London) has changed. Previously in London, the social aspect of business was extremely important, and so lunch breaks used to be incredibly long and often extend in to not returning to the office at all for the rest of the day (from my own personal experience this does still occasionally happen although not very often!), and the culture was generally quite slow paced and very social. However, over the past 10-20 years, Don has seen the eating clubs close, long lunch breaks down the pub changing to eating lunch at your desk, and the culture has become much more focused on work, and less on socialising – like it always has been in New York.

Meetings across cultures

Don then gave some extremely useful insights in to meeting protocols which vary depending on culture.

In the UK, it is customary to spend the first 10-15 minutes of a meeting on social niceties and catching up with your colleagues. In Southern Europe this becomes even more magnified, having several meetings which are mainly social, before getting to the work at hand. In Japan, developing relationships and trusts is an extremely important part of their culture, and as such it can take years to develop a sufficient level of trust before being granted a meeting at all! By extreme contrast, New Yorkers apparently launch straight in to work in a meeting, without much warming up as it were. Hearing this objectively from Don, who was originally an outsider to the UK culture, really made me consider how much of our culture we take for granted as ‘normal’, and how this may make us insensitive to those we work with from other cultures, who may not be aware of our UK version of ‘normal’ customs and practices.

Meetings across cultures

Photo credit: Office Now

This led on to a question from the audience regarding how can we respect other’s culture through virtual means, such as when you are having a virtual meeting or webinar?

It was mentioned that when we meet in person we can adjust our body language, such as our posture and eye contact, to amend our communication accordingly. In Korea, it is important not to make much direct eye contact as it is disrespectful, as it indicates you are questioning their authority.

The panel suggested possibly setting some ground rules or guidelines that all of the meeting attendees have to follow; such as confidentiality and respectful communication, and establishing some common ground. You can also make an effort to ask someone’s opinion as soon as possible in the meeting, so that they feel that opinion is valued and that they have a voice in the meeting.

Language and accents

Apparently only 60% of human communication is successful between native speakers of the same language – so in the best possible circumstances where you both speak the same language, only 60% of your communication is getting through! It is therefore very important to be aware of the difficulty of communication for non-native speakers in your work place.

Even in English speaking countries there are lots of differences and variations in the vocabulary. Hyoshin told a story of how she once attended a meeting where an English person said he could “kill two birds with one stone”, and all of the Spanish meeting attendees cringed and thought he came across as a violent person! So pay particular attention to sayings and proverbs when you are with non-native speakers.

World Cup themed IT Division party

World Cup themed IT Division party

The discussion then moved on to the difficulty of understanding accents. Of course, some people say they don’t have an accent; when of course absolutely everyone has an accent – it’s just whether you are used to it and think it is ‘normal’ for your area or not. It was interesting this came up, as while I was in Canada and speaking to Americans and Canadians alike, I found that many people asked me to repeat myself – and I think this was simply because they were not used to my accent, and it took them a little extra time to process what I was saying. And I thought English accents were easy to understand! But that is obviously me being incredibly biased, and it is this kind of thinking that hinders working across cultures.

Geraldine referred to accent as the music of language. Growing up in a bi-lingual country such as Switzerland, Geraldine commented that as a child you have the ability hear many different languages and accents clearly and properly, but as you grow older and grow used to just speaking one language, then you become inhibited in listening to other languages clearly. Geraldine also provided a top tip of watching regional TV programmes to become more accustomed with accents, and referred o watching Taggart to become familiar with regional accents in the UK.

Tips for moving to a new culture

A member of the audience mentioned that she was moving to Kazakhstan and wondered what advice the panel could provide on moving countries, and below is their key advice:

  • Learn a little of the language – as this will show you are making an effort and indicates that you are being considerate
  • Be flexible
  • Embrace and be comfortable with anxiety – you will experience it at the beginning!
  • Plunge yourself in to their culture, but also be aware that there may be stereotypes within the pop culture that may not ring true in reality

I was really sad that at this point we ran out of time. I didn’t realise this session would be as interesting and as useful as it would be to me. I have recently moved from a primarily UK law firm with some Middle East offices, to a global law firm with over 50 offices across Europe, Asia, Canada, North and South America, Africa and the Middle East. One of the reasons I moved to this role is the unique opportunity to work and collaborate with the librarians from our various global offices, and not only am I certain that some of the practical advice above will come in handy, but this session has made me more aware of the importance to not unwittingly cause offence, or to appear inconsiderate or insensitive when communicating with those from different cultures. Quite importantly, I must remind myself that just because I am used to British customs, that does not necessarily mean they are better than the customs of any other country!

It was a fantastic conference session, and I hope the SLA will continue to organise these cross-culture theme events; as this is where its strength really lies in being a truly global association of librarians.

SLA Europe members

SLA Europe members

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My snapshot of SLA Europe’s Working Across Cultures #sla2014 conference session for SLA First Five Years – a full review of the session to come on my blog soon!

SLA First Five Years Blog

This is a write-up by Marie Grace Cannon of a session at SLA Annual 2014, on Tuesday June 10 11:00AM, presented by the Europe Chapter. For more session write-ups, click here.

The speakers for this session were Hyoshin Kim (Douglas College), Don Roll (Alacra), and Catherine Lavallee-Welch (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse). It was moderated by Geraldine Clement-Stoneham.

This panel session was full of educational (and in many cases entertaining) stories of mistakes made when working with people from other cultures, and lots of useful information and practical advice for working in different parts of the world. For example, in the UK it is expected that the first 10 minutes of a meeting will be dedicated to social niceties, while in the U.S. you immediately get straight to business, and in Japan it can take years to develop a relationship and a level of trust to get a meeting in the…

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I have been a little remiss with my blog lately and there are a number of what I think are very reasonable excuses as to why, which primarily are :

  1. Spending much of my lunch breaks compiling my chartership portfolio, which I hope to submit in July *fingers crossed*
  2. Grappling with becoming the Secretary of SLA Europe, and trying not to fail miserably and buckle under the pressure of such a huge responsibility
  3. Preparing for the SLA Conference in Vancouver (I can’t believe it’s nearly here!)
  4. Rather unexpectedly getting a new job

Although these are valid excuses for being very busy and neglecting the blog, I am also well aware that each of these excuses are fuel for potential mountains of blog posts for me to write in the future – which I am going to do my very best to churn out, despite beginning a new job at the end of June!

So just a quick update really.

Having been Blog Editor (and consequently sitting on the Board) for SLA Europe over the past year, I was asked whether I would be interested in filling the position of Secretary which had become vacant. Despite knowing that I would be learning this role alongside studying for chartership, and that a substantial amount of work would be involved, I decided the opportunity was too good to pass up. In the past 3 months as Secretary the European Chapter hasn’t (yet) fallen apart due to my inexperience (primarily due to a very experienced Board), so I think I’m doing OK so far – although I have a way to go before feeling confident with the role! Needless to say, a post on what I’ve gained from volunteering for SLA Europe will be coming along shortly.

The second piece of news to share is that I will be starting a new job at the end of June, as an Information Officer at Norton Rose Fulbright. On completing my MA, I almost immediately found my current position at Trowers & Hamlins where I have been working for just under 2 years. I wasn’t actively job hunting as I really liked Trowers as a firm and loved the library team. However, I became aware of a vacancy at Norton Rose Fulbright (where I completed my graduate traineeship), which is a much larger and more international firm, and I thought I would give it a shot as it offered a wider variety of learning opportunities and more varied experience.  It was to my utter surprise that I was offered it, and although I am sad to leave the team at Trowers, I am very excited to return to Norton Rose Fulbright and hopefully develop much more as a professional.

As a very wise friend recently said to me – I need wings and not roots right now. I am feeling very optimistic about the future that lies ahead.

We Have Lift Off by Chad Horwedel

We Have Lift Off by Chad Horwedel

 

 

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On Wednesday 4th December I attended my first ever Knowledge Cafe, organised by SLA Europe and hosted at my previous place of work, at the beautiful offices of Norton Rose looking out on to Tower Bridge.

The reason I attended this event was largely due to the fact that I knew Allan Foster would be leading the session, and it would be loosely based on his Business Information Survey and consequently on trends within the information profession and how we can ensure the survival of our profession. But I was also keen to attend as I knew that a knowledge café is very interactive, and this in combination with the variation of professionals that SLA events tend to attract, would result in an enlightening evening.

As before any event, there was an opportunity to network before we all settled down. I had a really interesting conversation with someone who had worked in the financial sector as an information professional for all of his working career, and only the week before had moved to work for Macmillan Cancer Support. I was astonished at how brave such a move was, and was also delighted to find real evidence that moves between sectors can be done, even when you have been in one particular sector for 20 years or more! Although on speaking to someone later on in the evening from the British Library, there seems to be a view that it is easier to move from a corporate to a public or charity sector role, rather than the other way around, for whatever reason.

Knowledge CafeThe room was laid out with circles of 4 chairs, and David Gurteen proceeded to tell us knowledge café novices how the evening was to proceed. Allan Foster would speak for 5 minutes on a topic of his choice, and pose a question to us, which we would then discuss in our groups of 4. After 5 5 minutes of discussion, you changed groups, and then 5 minutes later changed again. This resulted in everyone having a chance to say what they thought, and in an informal group of 4 it was easy to chip in and develop on someone else’s point, and it was a very relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. You often brought with you what someone else had said in your previous group discussion as well as your own views, so it was a really effective way of sharing information very quickly.

So the topic Allan spoke on was the key pressures on the information industry, including:

  • Organisational turbulence
  • Changed user demands
  • Disruptive technologies
  • Role competition
  • Ever increasing pressure on costs & central overheads
  • Managerial skepticism

The question he then posed to us to discuss was:

Reporting to a highly sceptical senior manager, how do you convince her that the Information & Research Service is worth its continuing investment and has a future?

I thought this was a very pertinent question to ask, as we are in a time where the branding and image of a librarian to the general public generally doesn’t convey our professionalism (I am constantly presented with shocked faces when I tell people I had to obtain a Master to get my current role), and where users (in many cases misguidedly) feel they can retrieve the information they need for themselves using Google. It is also important in the particularly difficult economic time, where local authorities and large corporate organisations alike are under pressure to make save money, and the value of library and information services are under more scrutiny than ever.

I think what really came across in our group discussions on this topic was that in order to demonstrate your value successfully to your firm, you had to think of the objectives and strategy of your particular firm and how the work you do aligns and helps achieve those objectives. For example, as a legal librarian, I started off by saying that minimizing risk is of huge importance to a law firm. Legal information by its nature is constantly evolving, and it is my job is to ensure that users are directed to our paid for services such as Westlaw and LexisLibrary to retrieve current, validated and authoritative information – rather than simply Googling and using sources such as Wikipedia! One single error by a trainee finding a source on the Internet which contains out of date information could ruin a multi-million pound deal; and ultimately the reputation of the firm. So one of the reasons I would argue to a sceptical manager why the Information and Research service is worth investment is to minimize risk, which is a key objective of any law firm, as it is my job to organise services such as Westlaw and LexisLibrary so that we have appropriate sources of information to use in work for clients, and my job to provide training so that users know the potential dangers of simply Googling for information.Knowledge Cafe

Following our 3 group discussions, we then all came together in one (very large) circle, and various people volunteered to report back on what they had learned from the discussions and how they would tackle Allan’s question. Here are some of the key points:

  • Contextualise your argument in the terms of your particular business and use the kind of language your management will understand – if you work for a financial firm focus on cost and how you contribute to profitability, if you work for a law firm use legal terminology, etc.
  • A point I have previously mentioned – tailor your argument to the strategy and senior objectives of your organisation – what is important to senior management, and how do you help them achieve their goals? For example, if you work for the Medical Research Council, show how your open access policy and information service provides innovation and benefits society.
  • You can take another approach and explore the alternatives – how would it affect your organisation if they didn’t have an information service?
  • Discuss how you impinge on the other departments around you – have you embedded your service around the organisation? For example, do you help the Marketing or IT departments, and have you made yourself invaluable to them? If not, then maybe this is something you should explore.
  • Always be prepared with an elevator pitch (or 5 minute sales pitch) to anyone at any level of seniority – if you have a story of a specific example of how you service has helped, or equally a horror story of how someone used an inappropriate information source because they didn’t come to you, then this can be more powerful and memorable than rolling off a list of statistics.
  • There was some talk that if you got to the situation of being asked by senior management to demonstrate the value of your service, then you have already failed. I think this is a really harsh point of view, and there is no reason why senior management shouldn’t ask this question, as we should be confident in our worth! But ways of preventing getting to this situation was to prove your value pro-actively. At Norton Rose Fulbright (law firm) the library circulate usage statistics and highlight key examples of they have helped users to key individuals within the firm every month – without waiting to be asked for them.

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Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to attend the Perfect Information Conference 2013, hosted at the Aviator Hotel, 22-25 May 2013. I was also very lucky in that one of my fellow SLA ECCA winners, Ruth Jenkins, was also attending the conference for the first time, so that I had a friend to navigate the conference with and to share the odd sneaky cocktail with! You may be interested in reading my own and Ruth’s SLA Europe blog posts with our general impressions of the conference which were published earlier in the year.

Aviation themed lift

Aviation themed lift

Compared to previous conferences I have attended such as the SLA and BIALL annual conferences, the Perfect Information Conference is a lot more intimate, with approximately 90 delegates from primarily the legal and financial sectors. The majority of the delegates (possibly all) stayed at the Aviator Hotel, where the conference was hosted, and this meant there were numerous and constant networking opportunities. I found myself meeting people in the formal networking sessions, then constantly bumping in to the same people at breakfast and lunch and throughout the day. This meant that you had the opportunity to really get to know fellow delegates and develop meaningful relationships.

The first day was very much an affair of checking in at the very glamorous hotel (with lots of ooing and aahing at the posh aviation themed décor), settling in to our rooms, and attending the evening drinks reception and dinner, with an opening talk by Allan Foster on his Business Information Survey 2013.

 Add value or die – the fate of corporate information services by Allan Foster

Allan has been conducting his annual Business Information Survey for the past 20 years, and the results of the survey are based on detailed interviews with 20 senior information managers, UK and European managers who work for global organisations, with average budgets of £250,000 – £500,000, and who manage teams of 8-10 members of staff on average. Below is a summary of the key points I took from the results of Allan’s survey.

Key pressures of the past year:

  • Redundancies – staff morale is low and cost control is taking too much importance
  • Changed user demands – for example, users have more direct access to data, and don’t believe that they need professionals to mediate this access
  • Disruptive technologies (social media and data mining)
  • Managerial scepticism regarding the value of information services
  • Pressure on costs and central overheads – the effects of mergers and re-orientating library and information services accordingly

Changes over the past year:

  • Budgets not affected too much since last year, but after 2008 there is a more mature relationship with vendors
  • Problem of externalisation and working or collaborating with third party partners, and getting them licenses to be able to access and use your services
  • Outsourcing and offshoring of staff and services – the survey reported mixed experiences, whether staff are embedded within teams or isolated
  • The fracturing of the staff development pipeline – the work has disappeared, so staff have also disappeared

Routes to success:

  • Good old fashioned good management – making sure your service is efficient, effective and that you have good cost control
  • Moving service up the value chain (add value or die) – take risks getting involved in projects and initiatives outside of the avenues of traditional library services – diversification in to other areas of the company
  • Adoption and leadership of new technologies – this is being taken over by other departments but we need to ensure that we make a visible contribution
  • Using stories of success to disseminate knowledge about our abilities
  • Develop political awareness – get close to senior management and align yourself and your work with their business priorities.

Allan has himself written 2 blog posts for SLA Europe on the results of the survey, and I would highly recommend reading part one and part two, as they are much more informative than my summary above! Also see the Business Information Survey 2013 podcast and original article.

After Allan’s thought provoking session, we continued to network at the drinks reception, which was closely followed by dinner. During the networking there were 2 things that particularly struck me that I didn’t necessarily expect; the first was the high number of vendors that were present, and the second, the seniority of library and information professionals attending this conference.

CocktailsMany of the delegates were very experienced professionals in senior roles, such as information managers, directors or heads of service; and so I found the networking to be particularly beneficial to me as a new professional. All of the delegates I met were very knowledgeable experts at what they do, and so I learnt about their roles and how their library services differed from my own, but importantly I was often able to find out about their extensive and varied career paths and gain advice for my own career.

I think this is why the Perfect Information Conference is possibly the best, and certainly the most unique conference I have attended so far. Not only is the networking with such highly experienced professionals so interesting and educational, but the conference sessions are necessarily aimed at a higher managerial level. Although the sessions are not of direct relevance to me right now, they were extremely interesting and very thought provoking. I hope this serves as a cliff hanger for next week’s summary of day 2 of my PIC experience!

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