Information professional

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An information professional is someone who records, organises, preserves, retrieves, and disseminates printed or digital information.[1]

The term is most frequently used interchangeably with the term 'librarian',[2] or as a progression of it. Librarians traditionally managed information contained in books or other paper records. Nowadays, however, libraries make extensive use of modern media and technology, hence the role of librarians has been enhanced. The versatile term 'information professional' is also used to describe other similar professions, such as archivists, information managers, information systems specialists, and records managers.[3] Information professionals work in a variety of private, public, and academic institutions.

Skills[edit]

Since the term information professional is broad, the skills required for this profession are also varied. A Gartner report in 2011 [4] pointed out that "Professional roles focused on information management will be different to that of established IT roles. An 'information professional' will not be one type of role or skill set, but will in fact have a number of specializations". Thus, an information professional can possess a variety of different skills, depending on the sector in which the person is employed.

Some essential cross-sector skills are:[5]

  • IT skills, such as word-processing and spreadsheets, digitisation skills, and conducting internet searches, together with skills in digitisation, loan systems, databases, content management systems, and specially designed programmes and packages.
  • Customer service. An information professional should have the ability to address the information needs of customers.
  • Language proficiency. This is essential in order to manage the information at hand and deal with customer needs.
  • Soft skills. These include skills such as negotiating, conflict resolution, and time management, which are useful for all interactions at a workplace.
  • Management training. An information professional should be familiar with notions such as strategic planning and project management.

Moreover, an information professional should be skilled in planning and using relevant systems, in capturing and securing information, and in accessing it to deliver service whenever the information is required.[6]

Qualifications[edit]

Many universities around the world offer Library and Information Science (LIS) academic degrees, or degress on related subjects such as Archival Studies, Information Systems, Information Management, and Records Management. Furthermore, many library associations and unions offer Information Management training, and there are also online e-learning resources, some of which offer certification for information professionals. In many countries the courses and certificates available are accredited by the relevant professional association, as is the case for example with the American Library Association (ALA) in the USA, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) in the UK, and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) in Australia.

Africa: Information development in Africa started later than in other continents, mainly due to a lack of internet access,[7] and expertise and resources to manage digital infrastructure.[8] Nowadays however, academic degrees in Information studies are available at many universities of African countries, such as the University of Pretoria (South Africa), University of Nairobi (Kenya), Makerere University (Uganda), University of Botswana (Botswana), and University of Nigeria (Nigeria).

Asia: LIS-related studies are available in more than 30 Asian countries.[9] Some examples are: Information Science at Anhui University (China), Library and Information Science at the University of Kelaniya (Sri Lanka), Educational and Information Science at Fo Guang University (Taiwan), Library and Information Science at University of Malaya (Malaysia), Library and Information Science at International Islamic University (Malaysia), and Master Degree in Library and Information Science at Kuwait University (Kuwait).

Australia: The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) currently list 22 undergraduate and postgraduate accredited university courses for 'Librarian and Information Specialist' on their official website.[10]

Europe: The majority of European countries have universities, colleges, or schools which offer bachelor degrees in LIS studies. Over 40 universities offer master degrees in LIS-related fields, and many institutions, such as the The Swedish School of Library and Information Science (Sweden), the University of Barcelona (Spain), and Loughborough University (UK), also offer PhD degrees.

North America: Information studies and degrees are available at numerous academic institutions throughout the US and Canada. US professional associations, together with their European counterparts, have undertaken many educational initiatives and pioneered many advances in the field of Information studies, such as increased interdisciplinarity and more effective delivery of distance learning.[11]

South America: There are many schools and colleges in Latin American countries which offer courses in Library Science, Archival Studies, and Information Studies, however these subjects are taught completely separately.[12] So far only three universities offer the modern version of LIS information studies, namely the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), the Pontifical Xavierian University (Colombia) and the National University of Costa Rica (Costa Rica).

Associations[edit]

Most countries have a professional association who oversee the professional and academic standards of librarians and information professionals. Some of these educational institutions refer to themselves as an iSchool, such as the CiSAP (Consortium of iSchools Asia Pacific) in Asia and the iSchool Caucus in the USA. There are also international associations related to LIS, the most prominent of which is the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Introduction to the Library and Information Professions, by Roger C. Greer , Robert J. Grover, Susan G. Fowler, [1], pages 12-15
  2. ^ U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook (2008-2009 edition), [2], page 266
  3. ^ Introduction to the Library and Information Professions, by Roger C. Greer , Robert J. Grover, Susan G. Fowler, [3], pages 12-15
  4. ^ John F. Mancini. "Rise of the Information Professional". AIIM. p. 4. 
  5. ^ "The demand for and supply of skills in library and informations sciences...". National Archives and Records Service (NARS, South Africa). 2010-03-15. pp. 87–88. 
  6. ^ "Become a Certified Information Professional (CIP)". AIIM. 
  7. ^ [4]
  8. ^ [5]
  9. ^ [6]
  10. ^ [7]
  11. ^ Global Library and Information Science, [8], pages 549 and 552
  12. ^ Global Library and Information Science. p. 414. 

External links[edit]