Being an information professional

When I first begun my journey as an information professional (IP), I too thought that it would be all about the books. I thought that any role I pursued would be about finding materials, using materials, checking in materials and not much else, apart from creating guides and having some online support available. However, from studying Library Science and working as a graduate trainee and library assistant, I have found that being an IP is not just about having access to the materials. It’s about what you can do as an IP to help your clients/patrons/students/customers, acquire the information they need, which is not limited to books and journals.

When working in a company, people may need information on how to better communicate with their peers or their clients or advice on how to run their business. In a university students need information on how to write their essays, applying for jobs or further education possibilities.There are so many roles attached to being an IP that don’t just involve showing people where to find information. We are the information. We are the materials.

I have often been told that we are a brand and that we need to promote ourselves. Thus we must actively be involved with the things that are important to our clients/patrons/students/customers. This includes being online using social media, offering services that will enable them to continue with their studies or businesses and thinking about how our own unique interests and talents can be used to showcase that information.

Becoming an IP seems fun and exciting, because I have the opportunity to get to really know the people I am there to help, in terms of what they would need from me and how they would prefer to have that information. In addition, I get to increase my knowledge base and build on my creative skills.

What kind of information professional do I want to be?

In an age where libraries are being deemed as unnecessary, as we can clearly get all the information from the web, especially Google; it is important that we as librarians and/or information professionals show how valuable we are.

The aim of someone within this profession has always been to disseminate information to everyone. This means, that those who are poorer than others may have access to information that they cannot afford by themselves. It is our aim to guide individuals in their quest for knowledge and understanding; providing adequate and reliable resources that will aid them in this endeavour.

However, due to the advances in technology and the World Wide Web, the library is no longer seen as the place that people will go to for information. There is a lot of information on the web, and anyone with access to the web has access to information. But is that true?

As trained librarians and information professionals, we know how important it is to have knowledge about how to access the information that we need. This is why we have spent so much money, time and resources on developing our user interfaces and understanding how search engines work. We want to help users find the information they need – information that is relevant, reliable and valuable.

For general information that we want a quick answer to, it can be hard to find the information that we need. Searching within a library catalogue or using a database can be quite tiresome, as they only give access and/or information to research papers or books. They don’t provide information on useful websites, blogs or people who are important within the field.

Search engine sites, such as Google, provide access to all types of information. So a person is able to find research papers, books, blogs and Twitter accounts etc. However, and as many of you will have found, there have been many occasions where I, myself have searched for something in Google and have not found what I am looking for. Or better yet, found something unexpectedly different from my initial goal that is actually relevant to my search and enlightening.

The web on it own doesn’t have a structure in which users can be sure they have found the information that they need. The web offers information, but it doesn’t filter out what is relevant and what is not. It is not regulated in such a way that a user can put in a search term and be completely sure that they are getting the information that they were actually looking for.


So how do we tackle this? How do we provide a way in which our users have knowledge of the value of all information types and create access to them?

As someone who is new to this field I am hoping to become a information professional who can develop answers to these questions. I want to be able to have the knowledge to create and build resources that will enable users to navigate the web with ease. This includes building sites that direct people to different types of information based on their search terms.

I want to be aware of current developments in technology, the different ways of organising and classifying information, and knowledge of how users engage with and look for information. I also want to continually engage with information in all its forms.

Information is everywhere and it’s important that we as librarians and information professionals engage with this information and make it accessible to our users. We must continue to be creative and masterful in our work as we don’t just work in library building anymore.