A Handbook for Corporate Information Professionals

Dec 2014 | 192pp

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A Handbook for Corporate Information Professionals

Edited by Katharine Schopflin

This edited collection provides a cutting edge overview of issues of key concern for information professionals providing information services in corporate environments.  
Corporate information professionals serving the workplace rather than learning communities or the general public face specific challenges and demands, from providing competitive intelligence to managing information in a global environment. International contributors working across a variety of sectors pinpoint the key topics facing the corporate information professionals today and share their experiences and expertise.
The key topics include: 
  • how information professionals/libraries fit into the contemporary workplace
  • managing the corporate intranet
  • the role of the corporate librarian in internal and external marketing
  • gaining buy-in for corporate knowledge and information management
  • the hybrid librarian/systems specialist
  • managing staff and change in a difficult climate, and demonstrating value
  • managing information in a global firm; developing corporate taxonomies at a time of change
  • working with suppliers/licensing for elibraries
  • training end-users
  • competitive intelligence searching.    
Readership: Experienced information professionals working in the corporate sector, including professional services firms, government, NGOs, commercial and industrial companies. The book should be useful to those with a high level of experience and/or seniority, wanting an overview on specific aspects of corporate information management, but will be accessible to more recent entrants to the workplace. It will also be of interest to students of librarianship and those applying for jobs within the sector, as well as the related professions of knowledge management, information architecture and intranet management.

1. The role of the information professional / librarian in the corporate workplace - Katharine Schopflin
2. Managing the corporate intranet - James Mullan  
3. Internal and external marketing by information professionals - Shaunna Mireau  
4. The hybrid librarian/systems specialist - Simon Barron and Linda-Jean Schneider
5. Developing corporate taxonomies - Helen Lippell  
6. Gaining buy-in for knowledge and information management - Danny Budzak  
7. Managing staff and demonstrating value at a time of change - Andrew Grave
8. Managing information services in a global corporation - Philip Weinberg
9. Working with suppliers and licensing for e-libraries - Tina Reynolds, Fiona Fogden and Linda-Jean Schneider
10. Training end-users in the workplace - Anneli Sarkanen and Katy Stoddard

"An invaluable guide, information professionals working in the corporate sector should gain some useful practical tips and insight. This reinforces the value of excellent practical books produced by experienced practitioners"
- Update

"...a well written and accessible introduction to the important issues facing information professionals. The work is an excellent selection for corporate libraries as well as those academic libraries that support information science programs. In addition, it has significant potential for use in courses in information science programs...The chapters are short, topical and accessible, making it easy to insert one or more into the syllabus. More importantly, all are sure to generate classroom and water-cooler conversations among future and current information professionals."
- Catherine A Lemmer, Indiana University, USA

"...a wealth of expertise is provided, obviously directly from the coalface, and shot through with the enthusiasm and generosity that are marks of the profession. In the end, this particular snapshot of themes and issues adds up to an optimistic picture of the value of information professionals and illustrates that the profession is having a very positive evolution."
- CILIP CLSIG Journal​

"...Each chapter not only offers the reader practical advice, but because this is compiled from 13 different information professionals, each one also provides an opportunity for the authors to bring their own individual recommendations and personal experiences to the table. Each chapter is well written and helps to make each of the topics that are being examined more relatable."
- Serials Review

"This handbook is a collection of practical, expert advice and multiple contributors, their perspectives and different styles of writing help to keep it fresh."
- Lee J. Pretlove, Archives and Records

Katharine Schopflin is a corporate information professional with more than 15 years’ experience. She has worked in sectors including media, government and non-profit in roles ranging from research, web content management and knowledge management to cataloguing and archive management. She has published regularly in the information press and previously produced an edited collection for Facet, A Handbook for Media Librarians.



Simon Barron, analyst programmer, SOAS Library, London

Danny Budzak, Senior Information Manager, London Legacy Development Corporation

Fiona Fogden, Head of Customer Relations, Linex Systems

Andrew Grave, Research Counts, providing training and support to corporate information teams

Helen Lippell, experienced data and information professional

Shaunna Mireau, Director of Knowledge Management and Process Improvement, Field Law firm in Edmonton, Alberta

James Mullan, Knowledge Management Systems Manager, Fieldfisher (European law firm)

Tina Reynolds, chartered librarian, Magic Circle law firm based in London

Anneli Sarkanen, senior information officer at Fieldfisher

Linda-Jean Schneider, Electronic Resources Manager, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Katy Stoddard, senior researcher, Guardian News and Media

Philip M. Weinberg, Senior Manager at Partners in Performance

1. The history and profile of the corporate information service - Katharine Schopflin
This chapter provides a brief history of special libraries and outlines a number of themes that recur in the chapters of this book that indicate trends in the modern workplace and how the corporate information professional is best placed to manage them. These themes are:
  • Disintermediation
  • Corporate alignment and marketing
  • Information overload
  • Embedded working
  • Knowledge management
  • Evidence-based practice and data management.  
2. Managing the corporate intranet - James Mullan
Information professionals, skilled as they are in organizing information, and accustomed to providing the link between the work of the organization and the knowledge it needs, often make good intranet managers. In many cases, they are the only people with a ‘helicopter’ view of their entire organization and able to see informational needs beyond immediate business priorities. However, the intranet manager faces numerous challenges, ranging from inadequate technology to corporate politics, from a legacy of poor content to staff timidity or apathy. They have to balance the needs of different departments with different agendas and levels of influence within the business at the same time as obeying Ranganathan’s fundamental law to ‘save the time of the reader’.  This chapter will give the reader a better understanding of some of the issues intranet managers face. The intranet manager role is challenging and any individual who undertakes it needs to have a number of key skills and abilities, including:
  • technical aptitude, and the ability to talk to technologists
  • written and verbal communication skills
  • the ability to understand the business and to talk to staff at all levels and in all functions
  • leadership skills and the ability to take decisions without being intimidated
  • the ability to build effective relationships with users and content editors
  • the ability to provide solutions regularly as most intranets are organic in nature and require constant development
  • the ability to be focused on delivering solutions that meet the requirements of the business even if they do not use every technological tool available to them.  
3. Internal and external marketing by information professionals - Shaunna Mireau
Before the advent of direct access to information for end-users, the library provided the only, or main, access to information resources in most organizations. Where staff had heavy research or information needs, it could be taken for granted that an information service was necessary. Today, libraries need to demonstrate the value they add above and beyond providing access to resources. The special skills that information professionals offer by connecting staff with the knowledge they need go far beyond managing a collection (although judicious acquisition and documentation is also essential). With good marketing, the library service will be heavily used and appreciated as an essential part of the organization’s success. This chapter, by an experienced law librarian, gives a number of examples of how promotion in a range of contexts has helped to enhance her service’s position within her firm, and be recognized as a source of revenue rather than as an overhead.
4. The hybrid librarian–IT expert - Linda-Jean Schneider and Simon Barron
Information technology (IT) is no longer the exclusive domain of engineers operating out of basement server rooms. It is part of every worker’s daily life and the invisible platform on which they perform. Although the role of the systems librarian emerged when librarians first moved from card catalogues to online public access catalogues (OPACs) there has traditionally been a firm division between the library or information service and the IT department. The one provides information, the other behind-the-scenes back-up and development. Yet, as the name might suggest, the information relies on the technology and, as far as the end-user is concerned, they provide the same product or service. There is every advantage in having a good relationship between an information service and an IT department to make sure that the two work together seamlessly. A more recent development is the information professional with strong IT skills who takes on a hybrid role, whether formally, as part of their job description, or simply as a practical means of delivering information services. The authors of this chapter both define themselves as information professionals, but have used their technical skills to inhabit or create hybrid IT roles combining elements of ‘info pro’ and ‘IT pro’. They draw on their experience and that of an increasing network of similar hybrids to share the advantages and possible approaches to working with technology as an information professional.
5. Building a Corporate Taxonomy - Helen Lippell
The aim of this chapter is to give readers an easy-to-digest overview of the issues, requirements, practical steps and possible pitfalls of building a taxonomy, or controlled language, for use in an organization. It is designed for those with some background knowledge and familiarity with the associated terminology. As every taxonomy project is different, the value that information professionals can offer is to help organizations implement the appropriate solution to meet their objectives. A great taxonomist is part-compulsive organizer, part-techie and part-diplomat. 
The author has been working with taxonomies and other knowledge organization systems for a number of years and draws on her practical experience to provide a loose outline of the steps taking in building and implementing taxonomies. The chapter is divided into five sections, which deal with the full lifecycle of a taxonomy project, from inception to creation and then to ongoing maintenance. It may be that not all five steps are relevant to every project. For example, if the taxonomy has already been implemented in the business but is now undergoing a review, then only the later sections of the chapter will be pertinent. However, the tips and experience in every section will be useful no matter where someone is starting from. 
6. Practical knowledge management: stories from the front line - Danny Budzak
Knowledge management as a practice has the distinction of being ubiquitous but barely understood. At its best, it is the means by which an organization becomes able to fulfill its capabilities by realizing not just what information it creates and where to find it, itself an achievement, but also how to make the best of the skills of the people who work there, through communication and sharing. But it can simply be a new name given to existing activities in IT, internal communications or information departments, without any real ambition to improve the way these departments interact with the rest of the business. Worse, it can sometimes be brought in as a new initiative without any real appetite to challenge existing ways of working, leaving the newest recruit in the business to try and encourage the company’s major income-generators to work differently. The author has worked in a range of knowledge and information management roles over the past 20 years, in-house and as a consultant. He brings his experience to offer, first, an interpretation of the term ‘knowledge management’ and some of the concepts associated with it, and then some key areas of advice for anyone working in the area.
7. Successfully managing your team through change and transition - Andrew Grave
This chapter examines the possible changes that corporate information departments may encounter and the drivers behind them. It provides practical techniques on leading your team through such changes and successfully transitioning them to a new way of working. It examines the warning signs that tell you such changes may be coming, and seeks to answer the question: how can a corporate information department prevent unnecessary change occurring? The author, in addition to being a veteran of several organizational changes himself, interviewed several senior managers with experience of change in the workplace. Their joint experience and perspectives should provide the reader with the means to recognize the signs that a restructure may be coming, how to be ready for it and what to do if it happens.
8. Successful management of insight, intelligence and information functions in a global organization - Philip M. Weinberg
While some organizations have shrunk over the years, others have grown through merger, acquisition or the absorption of formerly public sector operations into global entities occupying hubs and centres across different countries and continents. Large multi-site global organizations, whether service-led or professional, face a unique set of challenges in managing their information and knowledge. They have significant knowledge requirements: they need to know about all the sectors in which they work, in all the territories in which they are based, and about all those which might offer opportunities for the business in the future, not to mention legal, regulatory, technological and political changes which might affect current or future activities. They need to know what everyone else in the organization is doing, what knowledge is being created and how they can re-use and exploit it. In today’s information-hungry world, such organizations employ teams of knowledge and information experts: research analysts, intelligence specialists and knowledge managers to ensure that front-line staff can do their jobs effectively. Although the trend is now to employ only at the higher level of analytical work, with more basic searching and ‘transactional’ activity automated, outsourced or carried out by end-users, some organizations also manage offshore teams who remain part of the enterprise while operating in cheaper labour markets.
The author of this chapter has managed knowledge workers for a global consultancy for a number of years. In this chapter, he shares his advice on how to manage the challenges of providing information to a global organization. He covers both those concerned with keeping the information products relevant and well used, and the cultural, practical and human problems associated with teams dispersed around the world.
9. Working with Suppliers and Licensing for e-libraries - Tina Reynolds, Linda-Jean Schneider and Fiona Fogden
This chapter examines the issues facing corporate information professionals when purchasing and rolling out subscription resources to end-users. The authors have extensive experience in the area, working for law firms based in the UK and US. The variations in experience depend hugely on the type of licence models offered by the supplier, the size of the organization, the corporate culture and the position of the information service within it, but many of the problems faced are common to all. As a coda to the chapter, a supplier offers her perspective on the relationship between vendor and subscriber, and some advice on how to make it beneficial for all parties.
10. Training end-users in the workplace - Anneli Sarkanen and Katy Stoddard
This chapter considers the role of the information professional in training end-users in the use of library resources. Although not traditionally considered one of the core elements of an information professional’s role, in the same way that answering research queries or cataloguing might be, it is an increasingly important aspect of the services offered by corporate libraries. Although the nature of the clientele and resources used may vary from organization to organization, not to mention the logistics used, it is clear that information professionals across the corporate sector are carrying out some form of training. A 2012/13 survey by the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL, 2013) recorded that 68% of full­time respondents said user education on electronic resources was a duty forming a significant part of their role. In a recent informal survey of media librarians conducted by one of the authors as part of her chartership portfolio, 66% of respondents said they conducted at­desk training, 59% attended inductions for new employees and 41% organized group training sessions for their users. The authors bring their experience of running training and user-education sessions for very different types of organization to show why information professionals are carrying out this work, and how it can be done most effectively.