Why Information Matters

National Archives, UK

Natalie Ceeney joined our class in London yesterday to talk about how she sees the role of the modern information professional, from the perspective of the work undertaken by the National Archives at Kew, where she is currently CEO. If you are interested in facts and figures, or curious about what the archives do, their website is excellent and I won’t attempt to give my version here. Instead, I will offer a brief listing of some of the themes which arose from our session, which are relevant to all of us working as information professionals, or those hoping to in the near future.

  • professional silos such as ‘librarian’, ‘archivist’, ‘information scientist’, should be dissolved/merged so information professionals see themselves as members a cohesive body – perhaps under the umbrella of ‘knowledge and information management (KIM)’
  • technology has reduced the need for face-to-face consultation in many professions (e.g. most people book their own travel now) – this has implications for how information professionals work
  • physical ‘library’ spaces will continue to exist, but in a different way to that which we are used to – more people centered
  • choosing/selection is about content not media
  • there is (still) a need for good content management – file structuring and database design – it is better if information professionals are involved in this and are technologically competent (IT literacy is important)
  • the best way to keep up to date is to read a lot (yes)
  • information is a political issue now – see Information Matters
  • public spending is constantly under scrutiny – can information professionals offer cost savings and solve problems?
  • how can we use information to change society?
  • how do we define a record? (theory is important)
  • we now serve everybody, not just those used to or interested in research

Not for the faint hearted who cannot appreciate change – but certainly an indication of the opportunities for those interested in a career in information – whilst printed works will continue to inspire love and devotion in many of us, the virtual world provides us with many more challenges and employment prospects.

Thanks to Natalie for her time and expertise.