One of the blogs I read with great pleasure is David Ferriero’s AOTUS: Collector in Chief. A recent posting on how to prepare the next generation (or what I would argue is the “now” generation) of information professionals caught my attention. The blog posting summarizes a keynote presentation David gave at a recent Association of Library and Information School Education (ALISE) meeting. He also includes a link to the full text of his talk.
I was struck by David’s list of desired qualities: tolerance for ambiguity, technical savvy, customer driven attitude all make the short list. Below the fold, in the text of his address are more skills for the nextGen/nowGen information professional: the ability to deliver results, to communicate with impact, to influence others, project management. Here’s my favorite:
The ability to demonstrate business savvy. Applying business principles, methods, and processes (e.g., ROI, cost-benefit analysis) to solve problems. Driving business results by planning and prioritizing activities consistent with organizational goals, using data and evaluating the costs, benefits, and impact on others when making business decisions.
I think David is (as usual) onto something, and I particularly appreciate him calling out the need to take a business-like approach. In the not so distant past people went out of their way to avoid using the “b” word, and I’m glad to see this shifting. I’m also struck by how different David’s list looks from ACRL’s Competencies for Special Collections Professionals which were written 5 years ago.
I do not read David’s list as a call out to the young to save us, because I believe many of us already have these skills, or are in a position to refocus. This is not rocket science, after all. I believe we can all become nowGen information professionals.
Merrilee Proffitt is Senior Manager. She provides community development skills and expert support to institutions within the OCLC Research Library Partnership.