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Librarians who have moved out of the library space. Are you willing to be interviewed?

I am doing some research into librarians who have moved out of the library space without undertaking further study – that is they have built a new career based on their library skills and knowledge. This includes those who have moved to new organisations, new positions within their organisation and those who have moved out of libraries and have also returned to working in libraries after undertaking other roles. It may be you have moved to records management, knowledge management, project management or a position which on first impression looks like it is not even related in any way to information management. It may even be that your ‘library’ no longer resembles a ‘library’ as such.

The research will be in two parts:

  • first an online survey to gather the demographics – this data will be aggregated up so I get a general profile of the group being interviewed in part 2.  I do not intend to identify individuals unless they are happy for me to do so. You can link to the survey here;
  • second will be one on one interviews to gather the narrative (or individual stories) about your key skills, knowledge and attributes which made your library training valuable outside libraries. This will include how you have made the move and what parts of your library/information management skills and knowledge have been most valuable in achieving the move. Interviews will be achieved via Skype (if possible) to keep costs down.

I intend to publish the results of this piece of research late in 2012 or early 2013.

If you are wondering why I want to to do this research my story is as follows:

From 2006 to 2009 I was engaged as the Program Manager for the Knowledge for Regional NRM Program at Land & Water Australia.  The team had a total of three professional librarians (including myself).  We also had an ecologist, a science communication professional and an environmental science practitioner in the team.  It was an excellent and diverse mix of individuals and we all learnt a huge amount from each other.  One of the things we noticed as we moved around the National Resource Management (NRM) organisations across Australia was that we experienced similar conversations and comments from our stakeholders when they discovered the library background of the three librarians.  It was basically “Thank goodness you are here”.  Every organisation we went in to had challenges with information and knowledge management and the identification as a ‘librarian’ brought about a very positive reaction.

Since leaving my position at Land & Water Australia and the Australian Public Service to set up my own consultancy I have had nothing but positive comments about my library background.  I constantly discover just how much I know about finding information in comparison to my clients and colleagues. I used to call myself a ‘recovering librarian’ but now am happy to state that you don’t recover as your librarian skills, knowledge and attitude is one of your greatest assets.

As the 2012 President of the Special Libraries Association ANZ Chapter and a former Chair of the KM Division, I decided it was time to get some hard evidence on why librarians are viewed so positively outside the traditional library sector. As such I invite you to be part of my research.

To take part please send me an email to nerida@hartknowledge.com.au with a brief background and contact details (especially your Skype ID) and I will be back in touch with more details.

A brief update on this project – I will be sending out the survey component the first week of July as other work pressures are keeping me busy at the moment.  There is still time to participate by sending me an email.

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I am thrilled that the latest project I have been working on with a number of other consultants has now been published.

True Tales of the Trout Cod has absorbed the last 9 months of my life and has been probably the most enjoyable project I have worked on in a very long time.  Will Trueman (author) has written the most amazing book.  He has spent a considerable part of his life studying the Trout Cod in the Murray-Darling Basin. He compiled the science, photographic evidence with the oral histories to match, and newspaper articles from the National Library of Australia’s Trove database to show us what native fish existed and no longer exist in the lower Murray-Darling Basin.

This is the best example of science communicated through story that I have seen.  It has been a great privilege to work with Will Trueman (the amazing author), Siwan Lovett (Director of the Australian River Restoration Centre), Richard Snashall (our brilliant film maker), Vikki Bell (our wonderful editor and indexer), Allison Mortlock (our graphic designer), Melissa Gabelle (our wonderful web designer) and Heleena Bamford (our fantastic MDBA project manager).

I have to admit to being a bit biased as my favourite part of the project was Will telling us about the importance of the National Library’s Trove database. The video link for this can be found here.  Although the story of how the Campaspe got it’s name is the most memorable – I cannot see the name Campaspe without thinking of his story. You will have to read the chapter to find out why !!

I hope you can take the time to explore the new web site and learn so much about the native fish of the Murray-Darling Basin – I feel I have learnt so much from Will and now see our river system with fresh eyes and find I am keen to see our rivers and streams restored and preserved.

Nerida

What skills, competencies and experiences do you think you need to be successful?

In June 2010 at the Annual SLA conference in New Orleans, Karen Huffman put together this wonderful set of interviews with the KM Division members – and included the wonderful Patrick Lambe who was at SLA as one of the KM Division spotlight speakers.  It is interesting to note the variety of skills we all thought were needed to be effective in the KM world.

I appear very briefly in this one :

As an information professional, do you find you are constantly trying to prove your worth to your organisation? Many of us have learned to collect and aggregate statistics about our products and services, but what is the quality of service and value add we offer to our customers and our organisations?  As librarians we need to be able to effectively demonstrate the impact we have on our clients.  Not just how busy we are but where and how we make a difference.

Come along on the 4th of February 2011 when I will be conducting a 1 day course on How to evaluate your library and information service using narrative techniques.  The course will be run in Sydney after the Information Online Conference which is being held at the Sydney Conference & Exhibition Centre.

I have been conducting this course in the USA at the Special Libraries Association Conference for the last 2 years with fantastic feedback.  If you are interested you can download an Evaluating information services using narrative techniques flyer and a Registration form.

I have also co-authored a paper on this technique which was published in in Information Outlook in February 2010.  There is a version of the paper freely available (without diagrams) here.

I would love to see you there

Nerida

I have spent the past week in New Orleans at the annual Special Libraries Association (SLA) conference. This year, although the number were down a little, the program was fantastic. This is especially true of the Knowledge Management (KM) Division and the International Caucus sessions which I try very hard not to miss.


The KM Division was lucky to engage Patrick Lambe of Straits Knowledge as our keynote speaker. Patrick’s presentation on Knowledge Continuity and Opportunities was a great hit with the audience. Unfortunately I was chairing the International Caucus session and had to miss this one. However, the International Caucus session speakers were Dr Geoff Walton from the UK and Dr Harish Chandra from India – both of whom presented excellent papers on the theme Information Services in Transition : a global debate.

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For a long time now I have been advocating the role of the ‘knowledge broker’. When I worked at Land & Water Australia (LWA) they had a whole team of what they called ‘knowledge brokers’ but I am still uncomfortable with the role these team members took on as it did not really reflect my understanding of a knowledge broker.

The LWA definition states “Knowledge Brokering – Focuses on connecting people interested in an issue, it helps build relationships and networks for sharing existing research and ideas for stimulating new work. Knowledge brokers provide links between different entities or individuals that otherwise would not have any relationship. It is a dynamic activity and is not simply focused on moving information from a source to a recipient.” It is the last sentence that hits home. As a ‘recovering librarian’ all too often we see the role of the librarian as distributing information to a recipient. It is such a passive role and requires the information seeker to ask for information and then have it delivered. Librarians really need to think outside this role and into a proactive role – and not just running alerting services to their clientele.  The information professional needs to get outside the walls of their centre and go out and be part of their organisation and build trusted and strong relationships with their cleints.  As we hear so often it is all about building trusted relationships (my old team used to call it ‘not just a one night stand’).

I am very much of the view that all staff in organisations have a brokering role to play.  The power in the brokering position becomes obvious when you undertake a Social Network Analysis in an organisation and realise how important relationships are to successful outcomes.

I have developed a model around this and this is the first time I am actually making it public. A select few have seen this but I guess I have been refining it over time (even though it is relatively simple)



The whole idea is that each broker is empowered to create a new broker and that no one actually owns the information or knowledge that is being shared.  The idea is to encourage collaboration and sharing.

As my first post this makes me a bit nervous.  If you want to hear more about my opinions on the role of librarians as knowledge brokers listen to the podcast interview I did with InMagic about 12 months ago.

Would love some comments on this…..

Well I have finally done it – after years of my friends encouraging me (or was that pushing me) I have started blogging.
If you want to know more about me – my name is Nerida Hart and I am a recovering librarian. I work in the government sector and I am located in Australia.

I am rather obsessive about knowledge management and building capacity in organisations to use that knowledge for better outcomes.
Now I need to go away and think of something really clever to blog about – here comes a writer’s block for certain

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