Librarians manage a lot of information, much of it still in paper or other ‘analog’ formats (microfilm, videotape, etc.). There are many ways we can help minimize the impact of information services on the environment. It can be just what we do personnally, in our departments, in conjunction with others in our organization and also how we help to promote a culture of eco-friendly practices. I recently was an invited speaker to address this subject at the Southern California Association of Law Librarians (SCALL) Institute in Ventura, CA.
Going ‘digital’ is a good way to reduce and minimize the use of paper and the environmental impact paper has through its production, distribution, storage and disposal. At the same time, we have to understand that digital content and its access also has an environmental impact. For instance, in the article “Revealed: the environmental impact of Google Searches” in the London Times Online January 11, 2009 ” “a one-hit Google search taking less than a second … produces about 0.2g of CO2” according to Google. The article has an interesting overview of the environmental impact on searching and there are a number of others available. This is all a work in progress, but it is good that we examine the issue holistically and each do our part, however small or large, to counter-act the impact our presence and practices have on the environment.
In an article in the NY Times about I.B.M.’s continued success due to more focus on services and less on hardware and software, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a former senior technology strategist for I.B.M., is quoted saying “As the components of technology — especially hardware — become inexpensive and commoditized, you want to focus less on the components and more on how customers want to use technology.” The article is: “Huge Payoff for I.B.M. After a Shift” – http://nyti.ms/62TKeb
Substituting the words information and ‘print materials’ or other formats for content in this quote, I think you get an interesting thought: “As the components of [information] — especially [print materials?] — become inexpensive and commoditized, you want to focus less on the components and more on how customers want to use [information].”
It is very easy for information professionals to focus on managing objects, ensuring they are in their right place for retrieval, etc.. But the harder, and frankly more interesting work that is likely also much more valuable is collaborating with clients to help solve their questions — being an active services provider. Something we should all keep in mind as we see the increasing pace that information is being made available to all via e-books, Twitter and whatever else is on the horizon in our future. It is not about the format, it is about the information in whatever container it happens to reside. With this bit of a shift in focus, which a number of information professionals across all kinds of libraries and services are already doing, our value can be made that much more evident.
Lots of topics to blog about and I’ll do that soon. Just wanted to post this to show some things I’m thinking about. Heard a lot of interesting things at KMWorld in San Jose this past week and will blog shortly with more details.
Meantime, if you are a member of SLA, please be sure and vote regarding the name change from SLA to Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals. I am voting FOR the name change as it is more inclusive and sets a direction for the future. More on that topic soon too!
The annual group photo of SLA Fellows who were able to attend the Fellows business meeting on Sunday June 18, 2009 in the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC as part of the Special Libraries Association annual conference. 2009 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of SLA. I’m in the middle near the top of the photo, which was taken by Jim Tchobanoff.
As we get into conference season, it is good to try to make the most out of the time you are there. Now, more than ever, the cost of time and money to go to conferences make it imperative to maximize value. If you AREN’T going to a professional conference because of expense and you are out of work — BAD MOVE! Get out and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK to find that next position. Even if you are working and not job hunting, it is a good thing to do.
I came across a good article to help you plan. It was written by Chris Brogan posted in the ALA Direct newsletter, but it is good information for any conference goer.
For those going to SLA in DC, I look forward to seeing you all there for sure!