Monday, 10 October 2011

Event - LIKE 29 (Take 2) - Connecting Information with Innovation

On Thursday I spent a very enjoyable evening back at the Crown Tavern, at the second showing of John Davies’ presentation of TFPL’s report on their second survey of the information profession.

In 2006 TFPL conducted a survey of the profession and produced a report “Who is managing information - roles in the e-landscape”.  They have recently conducted another survey to follow up on this work and John described some of their key findings.  In view of the credit crunch and ongoing economic woes, they were surprised to find that there was on balance stability in the numbers of staff in ‘knowledge and information management’ or KIM functions, having expected to see a drop.  Also interesting was that the trend to these staff being dispersed across the organisation, rather than concentrated in an ‘information centre’, has increased since the last survey.

John asked us to discuss some of the survey questions around our tables.  One of these was “what is the point of a professional qualification, and a professional body?”  Amongst the reasons suggested around my table were:

  • To widen new entrants' view of the profession
  • To give a baseline of skills
  • To give a theoretical underpinning to professional practice
  • To set standards
  • To govern ethics
  • To accredit qualifications
  • You can't be a profession without a professional body
The point was also made that almost all other professions insist upon a set number of CPD hours &/or revalidation, to retain professional status, and that CILIP should do the same for the profession to have more credibility.

During the survey respondents were asked to say which attributes they felt were important in KIM workers.  Although many permutations were received, they were able to distill these down into several key areas, including:

  • Vision
  • Perseverence
  • Pragmatism
  • Collaboration
John asked us to debate which of these were the most important. On the table I was at we felt that vision and collaboration were the most vital, but also unfortunately the most often lacking.  Someone suggested that too many people still came into the profession expecting it to be ‘back room’, and another said that it tended to attract introverted people.

Another point that was made was that many people nowadays may self-identify as ‘knowledge workers’ (eg, information asset managers, or people like immigration officers who manage large databases of information), and yet not have a ‘library qualification’ or be seen as information professionals by CILIP or any of the other groups.

During the feedback discussion, John pointed out that we were naturally talking in terms of ‘us’ and ‘the business’ - and he was sure that HR or IT or other groups did the same - but that in fact we are ‘the business’ and should be talking about ‘we’.  

Dinner arrived while the debate was still in full flow, and the animated conversations continued over the food and afterwards, with Jennifer encouraging us to get up, circulate and share ideas with new people.

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