TFPL’s Question Time

The Monday night before the Online Information Conference has long been, in my book, dedicated to the InfoPro party thrown by CIG, London’s  now defunct City Information Group. This year TFPL really filled a gap by hosting a TFPL Connect International meeting at the Crown Plaza Hotel near Blackfriars.

TFPL chose a “Question Time” format, which left non-U.K. attendees rather struggling initially to understand what they meant. It didn’t take long, however, to figure out that this was “user driven content” at an extreme level.

Hosted by TFPL’s John Davies, the panelists were Natalie Ceeney, The National Archives (UK); Morten Nichoaisen (ProQuest Dialog, US, originally from Denmark),  and Doris Springer (Baiin & Company, Germany).

The Question Time format is exactly that: The panel responded to questions rather than presenting pre-done slides.  The level of discourse, I think. was signifnctly heightened by the absence of  slides.

What follows is some of the high points:

Get the information out there and let people decide for themselves about its veracity

Why is the UK averse to sharing information?

Information should be treated as an asset.

When you hide information, people will find it anyway.

There’s no Freedom of Information Act in Germany.

Revealing personal data is sensitive, whether it’s Sweden’s tax records or archival data that’s over 30 years old.

Technology transforms policy.

What about trust? Younger generations are not so quick to trust website information.

Where lies the future for information professionals?

It’s been a tough year, training budgets are down, but Morten sees bright spots in 2010, while Natalie thinks that in the pubic sector, it’s not getting better.

What attributes should information professionals have to break out of the traditional mode? Morten suggested more activity in explaining how to gt cretical information to people in the organization, Natalie said we should get the best out of our money (finance department), people (HR), and information (us).  General agreement that more marketing is necessary, tied to the actual needs of the organization.

The evening ended with a passionate discussion about social media. None of the three panel members admitted to Twittering. Several members of the audience took them rather to task on that, pointing out the value of social media.

All in all, TFPL is to commended for adding a very important component to the run-up to Online Information. Lots of food for thought. Lots of intelligent comments on all sides of the issues. Lots of info pro networking  and collegiality.

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