I was privileged to be invited to the first Sue Hill Recruitment breakfast discussion last month. These are intended to be networking events for experienced researchers, information professionals and librarians. Having known Sue Hill (the founder and director of the 30 staff company) for more years than I care to mention, going back to the early days of my information career, it was flattering to receive an invitation.
Consequently I made an exception to my strict rule of never attending breakfast meetings (a result of 5.30am starts necessitated by my rural location). However, I’m glad I made the effort because I met several new interesting colleagues. This came as something of a surprise as after nearly 20 years of attending meetings and conferences I thought I hat met nearly all my peers.
After the initial introductions, during which many of the attendees also revealed Sue’s positive influence over their early information careers, we got down to the serious topic of the future of the information profession. Given the current economic climate, in which services such as libraries and information departments are often the first in line for cuts, plus the more general recent trend to outsource service departments, this was not a theoretical question.
The consensus around the table was that information professionals need to become much more flexible than before, and give more emphasis to continuing professional development (CPD). We need to develop a higher level of technical understanding, improve our general business skills and ensure we understand the business of the organisations we work for to ensure we align our services to these.
It was agreed that failure to look outside of the confines of our information departments, and to become more engaged within our organisations (particularly with senior management). And even more importantly in my view. to move our services up the value chain, would lead to the demise of the profession. Standing still (even if our services are already good) is no longer enough.