Making Information More Accessible

Stock quotes. Fashion advice. Driving directions. The latest blog posts from thought leaders.

If you have a smartphone, you have 24/7 access to all of these, plus much more. And odds are, you have a smartphone—the Pew Research Center says three-quarters of Americans have one, as do more than 9 in 10 residents of Nordic countries and 70 percent of Australians, Spaniards, and Israelis.

Given that so many of us have constant access to more information than we can possibly use, why is information access a topic worth exploring? Partly it’s because of the sheer volume of information—by one estimate, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being created each day, making it harder to find the information we want. It’s also because people tend to turn to the same information sources over and over, preferring convenience and familiarity over variety and discovery.

Given these trends, how can librarians and information professionals make information—the right information—more accessible to their clients? The January-February issue of Information Outlook looks at two developments that are making it easier for special librarians in this area: research publishers are helping librarians promote high-quality information resources to their clients, and automated cataloging systems are bringing more “lost” information to the surface, improving not just the quantity but also the quality of collections.

The January-February issue also looks at how well academic and public libraries are accommodating their increasingly mobile-savvy clientele and how new technologies are allowing libraries to participate more proactively throughout the information life cycle. And for those whose idea of “mobile savvy” is being able to navigate safely from one city to another, there’s an interview with Stefanie Maclin-Hurd, a creative writer turned librarian who recently relocated from Boston to Pittsburgh thanks in part to assistance from her SLA network.

The interview with Stefanie may seem to be the only article in the January-February issue specifically about librarians, but in fact, librarians are central to each article. As Syed Hasan notes in his article about research publishers, “For decades, doom-mongers have predicted the death of the library and of the role of the librarian. But it is not so much the legacy concept of a physical information storage and retrieval setting (a library) that is useful to retain; rather, it is the concept of a professional partner—a librarian or information professional inside every research organization who will assess, mediate, and market online information resources—that is most crucial to the goal of furthering the mission of his or her organization.”

Read the January-February issue of Information Outlook!

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