Information Outlook Goes Digital, Pushes Boundaries

Like so many info pros, Kim Silk, the subject of the "SLA Member Interview" in the January/February 2013 issue of Information Outlook, has a Website. On her site, she states that she is "keenly interested in pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a librarian" in today's global knowledge environment.

"I'm interested in redefining librarianship–specifically, what the average person has in mind when they think of what a librarian looks like," she says. "The stereotype that exists is a tough one to shatter."

Kim may just as well have been speaking of Information Outlook, SLA's magazine, which until this year was published in print (as was its predecessor, Special Libraries). The popular perception of magazines is of a printed publication on glossy paper that arrives in your mailbox or in-box and becomes dog-eared and wrinkled over time from being read, filed and re-read.

Thanks to a group of SLA members, Information Outlook is challenging that perception. The Information Outlook Advisory Council, formed in 2009, recommended that the printed magazine be replaced with a digital version. The January/February 2013 issue is the first digital edition, and it's available online for you to read and share.

Does it push boundaries and shatter stereotypes? In one sense, no–it looks just like the printed version it replaced. But it opens the door to an entirely new learning experience, one based on community interaction rather than personal reflection. An online platform will allow Information Outlook to become a focal point for discussion, engagement and value, opportunities that were unavailable in a print-based publishing environment.

Of course, as with any change, the termination of the printed version of Information Outlook and its replacement by a digital version has prompted some complaints. Chief among these are that the digital version is difficult or even impossible to read without using the "Zoom" feature, and that no alternative formats (such as a PDF) are available. Evidence thus far suggests that the small text size is a function of the Internet browser–Internet Explorer 7 and 8 are prime suspects–while the format restriction is under review and may be lifted.

The format change is part of a larger effort by SLA to transform itself and provide new opportunities for its members to learn, evolve and adapt–to "push the boundaries" of the information profession and develop new ways to serve it. The digital version of Information Outlook is just one step in that process, but an important one.

To read the interview with Kim Silk or any of the other articles in the January/February issue, go to SLA's home page, click on the link under the words "Read the digital Information Outlook," then click on the magazine cover on the landing page. It's accessible on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone, and for a limited time, it's available to non-members as well as members. So feel free to invite a colleague to help shatter a stereotype and push a boundary or two. In a digital environment, you can read, share and learn together.

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