Mary Ellen Bates Looks at the Information Horizon

What a seasoned pro she is. At the start of her session, there was no microphone in the room and her computer’s video was incompatible with the display setup. She grabbed a volunteered PC, added her memory stick, booted up, and talked without a mic until the audio folks got one working. She didn’t even seem fazed by it.

Mary Ellen’s look at where our profession is heading was entertaining, insightful, and challenging. She talked about the impact of Web 2.0 in our libraries and offered a number of practical suggestions. “We’ve been 2.0 for a long time,” she said, “but maybe we haven’t packaged [our services] in a sexy way.” One suggestion for increasing the value and visibility of the library within an organization is to create an internal version of something like LinkedIn, which would surface hidden experts and create networks. She discussed the many challenges we face, including attracting and motivating younger workers, getting library schools to teach the needed skills, and providing virtual services. “Will librarians become highly paid “knowledge officers” or merely filing clerks?”

Looking ahead, she urged folks to make the library as pervasive as possible and look to provide availability at the point of need, whether mobile, 24/7 access, or embedded in users’ applications. “Can we become the new Amazon.com?” Those who adapt best will survive and change is constant. In fact, she went so far as to declare that “everything you know is wrong!” We should be ready to “pivot.” Other great soundbites of commentary:
“We are providing a service, not maintaining a warehouse.”
“We have more electronic tools, but they are just tools, not solutions.”
“Assume that what worked last year isn’t appropriate now—evaluate for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis).”

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.
www.infotoday.com

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