Pursuing Research

Research is one of the things I love doing as an Information Professional, as it allows me to find out about so many different and interesting things. In particular, within my role, I can go from performing research on a particular market or industry to finding information on the sociological aspects that affect working within a business.

However, performing research for others can leave me feeling a little wishful about completing a project of my own. I get to utilise my skills and my resources for someone else, which is fine, but I don’t get to participate in the creation of something and seeing it through to the end result. Thus, I do wonder whether being an Information Professional is right for me.

I love information and I love the fact that it comes in so many different forms. But finding a role that allows me to fully develop and grow in the areas I want to, has been difficult. So, I have been thinking about reinventing the role to suit who I am, my skills and what I’m passion about, if the role doesn’t exist already.

I am grateful that my current position has allowed me to develop my research skills. But I believe that there is more I can do without the constraints of being in a business.

 

 

 

Advertisements

How to realise and help with the information needs of your clients

My primary role as an Information Professional is to identify the needs of my clients, in order to facilitate their activities. There are several ways of doing this, without badgering clients about what they need and want from our service.

One way is to meet the new starters. New employees are usually more gun-ho and enthusiastic and so are willing to meet and discuss what they do and how we could help. In addition, they are in a better position to pass on information about our services to their colleagues and managers.

Another way is when speaking to account managers, you can ask questions about who would use and benefit from their service, without feeling embarrassed about not knowing about certain functions of a business or what certain acronyms mean :S.

Furthermore, keeping track of the kinds of requests certain departments/areas of business have made, can help. I have categorised the different kinds of queries we get and who we get them from. This enables me to see what kind of information is needed by different groups and how often they come to us for help. Similarly, I can see which areas of business don’t come to us as often or at all.

In addition, reaching out on an internal social platform, by sharing news, research and events etc. will enable those who don’t know about out service to reach out to us.

By keeping track of the kinds of requests we get and the areas of business that use us and by posting information on the internal social platform, I can reach out with informed material.

Managing Subscriptions

As part of my role, I am required to help with managing the subscriptions of the users within our institution. This includes setting up and renewing the subscriptions, as well as keeping track of who our users and contacts are.

This can get quite complex as we manage a lot of subscriptions from different suppliers, with different account managers and any number of users. In addition, there is the added issue of people leaving and having to deactivate their logins.

So, in order to effectively manage them, having an organisation system helps. Using Excel to keep a record of the subscriptions, with information on costs, users and renewal dates, is incredibly helpful when needing to regularly update the list. In addition, the suppliers can help by providing a list of users. Also having a way to keep track of who has left will also help with knowing for definite who has what, how many users there are and if anyone can be added or swapped.

Keeping the contracts and invoices in a place where they can easily be retrieved also helps. As well as having information on costs, they can have information on the name of the subscription, supplier details, description, number of licenses, t&cs, renewal date etc. Thus, when subscriptions are renewed, this information can be put consolidated into the Excel spreadsheet, where the information can be easily seen and sought.

I mentioned in a previous post that I have created two separate spreadsheets to keep track of the subscriptions. In addition, in the document that has the information on users costs and renewal dates, I have created other sheets that have information on users that need to be deactivated and subscriptions ordered by renewal date, so that we can renew in a timely manner.

Using a subscription management service can also help with those subscriptions where only 1 or 2 licenses are needed for each subscription. It can help with renewal deadlines, creating a new subscription (finding out costs, negotiating, etc.) and keeping track of costs.

There may be other ways that are useful for managing subscriptions, but these are the ways I have found that help. Although, I would like to find a formula I can use that will automatically update the renewal dates and possibly costs in the ‘renewal date’ Excel sheet.

Library Portal: Part 2

puzzle tree

Creating a library portal was something I really wanted to do and expressed as much in my interview. It was something I thought would benefit the business as well as make things easier for us to share information.

 

hmm

Although, I expressed concern about how relevant it would be and whether anyone would be interested (which was mentioned in a previous post), I decided to persevere, with the encouragement of my manager.

Initially, I wanted to create an actual site that would be added onto the business site. But this would have included quite a lot of work from the IT department, in terms of coding and design. So we were forced to use the intranet site we were already using. This meant having to get a bit creative by fleshing it out a bit, making it more appealing and accessible.

 

I created an Excel workbook where each sheet represented a page that would be on our intranet site. This meant that I had a place where all the information was held and could be modified at any point. It also made organising the information a lot easier.

I did have a bit of trouble with IT, when asking for help on how to change/modify certain things, but they were eventually helpful in making the site look a little better. They helped create a tile layout, where each tile became a link to each page of the site. This meant that we could have nice images that represented the contents of each page.

 

proud

I feel really proud of the fact that I was able to fulfill something I had intended to do from the very beginning. In addition to this, a little bit of me will forever be there, as I was the one who started this whole process.

In the future, I hope to make it a bit more aesthetically appealing and to have content that others will find interesting and useful, that will then encourage them to regularly check the site for any new information.

Ways to progress in your career

Ever since I started my current job, I had been thinking about ways to progress in my career. Through searching I have found that there are a few ways that I could develop as an information professional.

1. Develop in your role

It’s important to have a grasp of what your role includes in order to find out how you can develop the service you provide.

For example, when I first started, I wrote down what kind of searches I would be performing; making detailed notes of which research tools I would need to find each piece of information.

In addition, I saved all the research tools I would be using in my bookmarks menu and an Excel spreadsheet. I also, did this when I came across useful sites, where I had found interesting reports and articles that related to the interests of my ‘clients’.

By doing doing this, I was able to be more proactive when providing information. Information would either come straight to my inbox or I could scour these sites for useful reports and articles. Thus, I was able to pass this information on to those who would find it useful.

2. Read

Another way to progress in your Information Professional career, is to continue to read. It allows you to find out what new developments are happening in the field or the different ways you can disseminate information.

When I finished my course, I did find it difficult to stay in touch with the field, as I was no longer able to access the articles, journals and books I could when I was completing my course. In addition, I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go with my career as none of the traditional roles seemed to fit what I wanted to do.

However, my current role has allowed me to explore new possibilities and new avenues. Although, I am still figuring things out, the internet has a wealth of information; and social media sites, such as Twitter, are really useful for keeping up to date.

So, just continuing to read and explore, enables you to figure out what you want to do and where you want to go.

3. Pursue further education

Pursuing further education can allow you to further understand what it is you want to do, by surrounding yourself in the literature, in research and people within the field. In addition, I believe that supplementing your education with skills in other areas can broaden your understanding of a particular subject in a particular are of study.

In order to truly develop as a person, I have decided to  learn a language, develop my coding skills and truly consider whether I want to do a PhD. I like my profession and I like that I feel that there is more to learn, more to find out and more to develop. I have a hunger for something more, so pursuing more study seems to be a good choice for me.

Work and play

Lonely-Woman
https://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-we-might-feel-lonely-and-what-to-do-about-it/

Just when I was feeling frustrated by the fact that I’m in a team with only two people (me being one of the two) and having no one else to talk to at work, I began meeting someone who works in a different area, who gave me something to engage in whilst being able to meet other people from work.

I’m a cyclist, which means that I get see certain people regularly when I get into work – which is mostly in the changing rooms. One of these individuals was weirdly enough part of a work climbing group. I say ‘weirdly’, because climbing was one of the sports I have wanted to try out, for a long time. I had done a climbing session when I was younger and I had been scared sh*tless. But for some reason over the years, I had begun to think of it as something I could try doing properly. So it was really random when she had asked if I had wanted to go, but it was a a definite yes, on my part.

Together
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/buddies/

So after months of frustration, I found an activity that I could do and it was with my work colleagues. I no longer felt like a weird loner who didn’t know anyone. Sadly, they work on a completely different floor, so it’s not like I can just go and have a chat with them at work whenever I want. But the fact that I have a presence at work, that I am engaging with my work colleagues, makes me feel like I am beginning to belong. 

I have to say that, I was surprised that I went. I’m the type that is incredibly shy and stumbles over my words and is incredibly awkward with people I don’t know. But these last few months have taught me that I like people. I like having different people to talk to and do things with . Also, my interests have increased, which means that it’s nice to have people in my life that share those interests. So, I wasn’t going to let my awkward self sabotage what could be a great experience.

Finding the best place for you

When I first started applying for jobs when I had completed my undergrad, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and was thus applying for anything that sounded ok. And so, when applying, it was just about getting the interview and trying my best to sound right for the job so that they would like me.

But as I have found the career I want to pursue, I started putting more thought into where I was applying to, who I would be working with and particularly, the role I would be taking on and what it would entail.

There are many jobs that have the same job title, but the roles themselves can have slight differences. This will be because of the size of the team and the kind of organisation it is (e.g. a university, law firm or business), which thus changes what tasks and duties you’d have.

I’ve had 4 different library assistant roles in 4 different places and each one has been different. In one, I solely dealt with enquiries and in another I just shelved. In one I dealt with enquiries on different floors but the range was quite broad (from finding a book to helping format documents). In the last, I dealt with enquiries so broad, some really had nothing to do with what normal libraries deal with. However, in only one of these was I allowed to be truly creative in developing ideas and resources for library users.

Having been in these positions, I realised how much I value certain things in a role. I love variety, I love dealing with quirky people and I love small teams. Also, my ideal job would allow me to be creative in developing ideas and allow me to have a say in any changes or developments that would be happening in the service.

My lastest role has proved to me that I can no longer be just a library assistant because I have so much to give. There’s so many things I want to do and so many many things I want to try. Within a library assistant role, there is no room for me to thrive and showcase my abilities.

That is why after looking at the job description and deciding ‘ok, this looks interesting’ and applying,  the interview is very important.

Interviews are a great and interesting way for you as an individual to get to know the organisation and for the interviewer to get to know you. The real you. You don’t want to be faking it from the get go, because if you get the job and you’re someone different, I’m sure you will encounter a lot of difficulties in the future that could definitely have been avoided. 

The interviewer(s) can give away so much about the role and the organisation if you’re really interested in paying attention. I found this out recently, which made me realise how much I was actually interested in the role and the people who I would be helping. 

Thus, the interview itself wasn’t boring and I found myself taking a way a lot more than I thought I would. In addition, I thought that even if I didn’t get that job, there was so much I learned from the engagement I had with the people of that organisation that I could take away with me. 

The best advice I ever received about attending interviews was don’t spend an excessive amount of time researching the company/organisation because the interviewer won’t be quizzing you on every aspect of the organisation. But do some research on yourself – who you are, what you can bring to the organisation and what you want to gain out of being there. In this way, you can find the perfect role and place for you specifically. Somewhere where you can really enjoy your work and the people you work with. Better now when you’re young but also so important when you’re not so young.