by Anne Caputo, 2010 President, SLA
People of every generation think they live in a time of dramatic change–change far more revolutionary than any that came before. I try very hard not to be one of those who lament the loss of former times and say the past was better than the present. What I do say, however, is that we are living in a “new normal” state of affairs. Old assumptions and practices are passing away, and what we are left with has become a kind of replacement for what had been normal.
If we want to be Future Ready and thrive in the new normal we need to be mindful of four things:
First, a roadmap is required. Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland and many other books of whimsy said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” We don’t want to travel by just any road, but by the best-informed, best-prepared route. I would suggest we look to the Alignment Project and the emerging Future Ready Toolkit, which will offer elements to create our roadmap. The toolkit will provide resume templates and sample cover letters, brand-building suggestions and examples, communication tools, descriptions of best practices, and information about skills we can use to transition to other jobs.
Second, fundamental values matter. Our core competencies of selecting and acquiring the best and most appropriate content, organizing and describing content in ways that make it useful and findable, assisting in choosing the best sources, and teaching others to use our tools have never been more needed and more valued. We need to describe these skills in ways our clients can understand and continually adapt them to meet the needs at hand.
Third, follow the money. By this I mean we must believe in the value we provide, measure and articulate that value in meaningful ways, and create sustainable programs, organizations and services that fit the new normal. We are not, as a profession, skilled at measuring and articulating our return on investment, but the Alignment Toolkit will provide us with suggestions and examples for measuring and demonstrating value within our organizations.
Finally, action trumps inaction. Will Rogers, the American humorist, once said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Holding back and waiting for someone else to take the initiative is not a good strategy at a time when the new normal is being invented. Take action to ensure you, your function, your skills, and your fundamental competencies become part of the new normal.
We must move away from old models that do not work while adopting new models that take advantage of our skills. Changes in information delivery, storage, organization, and acquisition beg for a new normal. We must become the centerpiece in making the new normal a success.
Anne Caputo is the Executive Director of Dow Jones Learning & Information Professional Programs. Additionally she is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, College of Library and Information Services. She was the 2010 President of SLA and is a history graduate of Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Ms Caputo holds advanced degrees in architectural history from the University of Oregon and in library and information science from San Jose State University.