Tasks for Modern Info Pros: Proactively Create Solutions

Approximately one year ago, SLA published The Evolving Value of Information Management, a report summarizing the results of research commissioned by SLA and the Financial Times. The report, which was based on surveys of and interviews with information professionals and senior information users, identified five essential attributes for modern information professionals. The report also set forth a list of 12 key tasks that information professionals must perform in order to develop the five attributes.

Several SLA members have agreed to share their thoughts about the 12 tasks. In this post, Nora Martin, a librarian at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, discusses the importance and value of proactively creating solutions for the organization in which you work.

NoraMartin

Today’s information professionals are aware that a project can be anything at all, and we participate in them all the time. Yet, we may not think of project management (PM) as a skill, or realize that adopting a project management approach can create solutions for our organization.

Fagan and Keach (cited in Keach 2012) define a project manager as “the person who directs the execution of … [any] … initiative through its lifecycle, including defining the project, collaborating with stakeholders and team members, facilitating meetings, managing the timeline and deadlines, and overseeing all aspects of communication among the technical team and within the organization.”

In 2007, I began working in a newly created position as library manager for a government organization in Australia. My remit was to implement and manage a new library and research center service. Looking back, it is clear to me that I tackled this task with a project management framework in mind. Without realizing it, I understood the responsibilities of project management and was able to carry out my role under somewhat difficult circumstances.

Fast forward to 2014. As a casual academic, I am now tutoring third-year undergraduate students in a course called Managing Digital Information. Students work in groups of four to develop formal specifications for a digital repository, then develop a prototype of a digital repository, which must contain a variety of object types and formats.

I am placing a strong emphasis on communication, on which basis projects can succeed or fail. Increasingly, employers look for these skill sets when advertising for digital librarian positions. As Choi and Rasmussen (2009) conclude, often it is the interpersonal skills of team members that are key to a project’s success.

Take some time to contemplate your own lifelong learning. Consider the benefits of continuous learning, both personally (your own organizational skills) and professionally (skills to facilitate collaborative practice). Keep your eyes open for project management workshops in which you can get involved, either as a participant or facilitator. Workshops and/or training courses are often delivered by professional groups and organizations, such as the Fall Project Management Series from SLA New York and LLAGNY.

Choi, Y., and E. Rasmussen. 2009. “What Qualification and Skills are Important for Digital Librarian Positions in Academic Libraries? A Job Advertisement Analysis.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(5): 457-467.

Keach, J.A. 2012. “Project Management as a Core Competency for Librarians.” Web post, Library|Work|Success.

Martin, N. 2008. “The Challenges of a Newly Created Library Position.” Web post, LIScareer.com.

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