This week, SLA Europe take over the Future Ready blog. SLAE has around 250 members in half a dozen different countries. We are a thriving network of information professionals: individuals and organisations within the UK and across Europe come together to benefit from each others’ knowledge and experience. All areas of the information profession are represented by our members - specialist librarians, researchers, knowledge managers, business insight consultants, information scientists, editors, content specialists, graduates and academics and we’ve got representation in many different divisions.
by Bethan Ruddock, Europe Chapter, Business & Finance, Leadership & Management Divisions
What’s the one sentence I remember most clearly from library school? (Apart from ‘you passed!’) The revelation, the moment things fell into place? The phrase that summed up everything I’d been learning? Interoperability is a mindset. I don’t know where it originally came from. All I know is that it’s become one of those phrases that I feel encapsulate librarianship, along with ‘the user is not broken,’ ‘content not container’ and ‘more cake please.’
Future ready is also a mindset. It’s about more than being open to change. It’s about always having one mental eye and ear open for the stirrings of change – and then adapting the way you think and work to accommodate this. In games of mental strategy, such as chess and go, the ability to ‘read’ a number of moves ahead is considered vital for those aiming to become masters of the game. This comes from a combination of knowledge of the game – recognising known shapes, expected situations – and being able to think on your feet; to see a move and realise that it signifies, somewhere down the road, something for which you’d better prepare now.
This is the same in the information professions. The information landscape is our game. We need to be in the habit of scanning developments, no matter how routine the opening moves seem to be. By recognising how what we do now will impact later in the game, we automatically put ourselves a few moves ahead.
I was delighted to hear a story at the UK Archives Discovery Forum earlier this year, which demonstrated this perfectly. One of the presenters was speaking about her experiences working in archives in the early 90s, and gave us a quote from her manager at the time (who is my new LIS hero). They said: ‘We may not have a database now, but if we have structured data then one day we will have a database to put it in!’ Being able to think about your database structure before you have a database? Now, that’s Future Ready.
Bethan Ruddock is an early-career professional, working as Content Development Officer for Library and Archival Services at Mimas, University of Manchester. She is Awards Chair and Early Career Co-Chair for SLA Europe, and Co-Chair of the LMD Marketing Section. Bethan blogs at http://bethaninfoprof.wordpress.com, tweets as @bethanar, and is currently editing a New Professional’s Toolkit (http://lisnewprofs.wordpress.com/), due for publication in 2012.