State of the Information Industry — In Summation

According to those we spoke with at the Online Information show in London earlier this month, the year ahead  promises to be another challenging one for both libraries and information vendors.

The word, “challenging,” of course is a relative term often euphemistically connoting the worst of difficulties, but most people we saw in London had a sigh of relief in their voices.

You can hear the inflection for yourself, as well as see the look on people’s faces, by watching the video interviews further down in this blog.  There are a dozen, or so, in all.

How has the industry weathered the difficult year just passing, and how is it preparing for 2010?

  • Independent information professionals reported that they have been the beneficiaries of an upswell in out-sourced business in 2009, the ironic result of reduced internal resources within the commercial sector.  On the upside, the info pros observe that companies are appreciating more and more how much they need information, the value of information services, and the important role that information professionals play. So, the desperate year just ending may yet reveal a silver lining for both independent information professionals and those looking for newly opening positions in the commercial sector.
  • Vendors, for the most part, were “cautiously optimistic” about the year ahead.  Many are waiting to see how the 2009 economic difficulties have impacted library budgets for 2010.  According to the analysts and industry observers we met with in London, things are brightest for those who provide medical/healthcare information or government data, but even those in the troubled news industry are projected to see an end to the revenue death spiral they experienced in 2009.
  • Most of the people we interviewed were quick to point out that conditions vary both by market sector and by geographic region.  While US information budgets may remain contracted this year, some vendors see hope in emerging markets.  So, in 2010 many vendors will be continuing to focus on growth opportunities abroad, which will help them maintain viability while US markets recover.
  • Other vendors stressed the importance of delivering services that help their customers reduce costs, increase revenues, or improve efficiency.  And a good number advocated that vendors be sensitive to conditions in libraries and offer libraries and librarians good value for money in order to help them serve more patrons with fewer resources.  Many also stressed the importance of focusing on services that will help libraries evolve and develop into the knowledge centers of tomorrow.

In looking for the industry’s story, we talked with users, vendors, and analysts.

You’ll find expanded and related coverage in the forthcoming January edition of  Information Today.

Thanks for joining us this year for our annual Live from London blog.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year

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