How do you facilitate a really successful round-table conversation that flows seamlessly for 90 minutes and generates ideas and stories from everyone present? Easy – you seat 11 information professionals around a table and limit them to two words each!
If that sounds rather non-sensical, let me explain. At the latest Sue Hill Recruitment breakfast networking meeting, after the serious business of introductions and breakfast ordering had been taken care of, Sue Hill asked all those present to summarise in just two words, what is making the biggest impact on their work. The responses demonstrate the astonishing breadth and depth of our profession – taking in politics (with and without a capital P), digitisation, bureaucracy, budget restrictions, change programmes, paywalls, firewalls and personal information management.
This week the marketing guru Seth Godin has blogged about what can best be described as legacy models of [public] libraries. Over breakfast we too discussed a ‘legacy model’ – the one in which a universe of infinite knowledge was available to all for free. We are still waiting for the B2B information market to settle down in terms of paywalls, paypoints, quality vs quantity, universal access or closed communities, professional and formal vs informal and community created. New, disruptive models are emerging all the time.
And if the external information provider market isn’t challenging enough there are the conflicting demands of our own organisations to contend with. They need our advice to stay compliant and legal but we can also help them be creative and navigate change programmes. While our organisations may want to manage information, data and knowledge effectively, some individuals or teams may actually scupper all our efforts through protectionism, inertia and policies that stifle information use and flow. Information is a great servant, but is only as good as the master it serves!
Seth Godin may have challenged existing library models but he concluded his blog by saying “we need librarians more than we ever did”). Our role is to bring insight, to support decision making and add real value to our organisations.
You can read more about Sue’s breakfast events, and more, on her blog. Now in their fourth year, Sue’s breakfast networking meetings have raised more than £6000 for a number of charities.