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Getting to Know Your Quantum2 Coach...
We'd like you to welcome our new coach, Jamal Cromity. Jamal started with Dialog in January 1999 as a Product Support Specialist in the Knowledge Center. Promoted twice internally, he is now a member of the Custom Solution team within the Product Development Department located in Cary, N.C.
Jamal brings a unique combination of strengths, including a broad content knowledge, to his 7-year consulting role in applications development for corporate customers. He is a 1998 ALA Spectrum Scholar and received his Masters in Library Science degree from North Carolina Central University while working at Dialog. Jamal continues his pursuit of knowledge as he will complete his MBA from Ellis College of NYIT in 2007.
Most of Jamal's time is spent at home with his wife and two girls. He exercises quite a bit and he is a big NFL fan.
Quantum2 Topic of the Month
Let's think for a moment about the trends and challenges we face these days. Physical and organizational walls are being knocked down, which means we are expected to serve our constituency regardless of their location or the diversity of user requirements, whether based on a d epartmental or global point of view. Even as we become more virtual, we must take into consideration training needs, help with locating and validating information, intermediated searching, and, conversely, disintermediation.
And, as you are aware, budgets and staffing levels rarely rise, even though content continues to expand with a multitude of sources that must be evaluated, purchased, and deployed. We need to deal proactively with the resources available, always prioritizing and doing more with less.
Internally, we face competition from other departments, analysts, and researchers, as well as the ever-present "Web," so we must acquire analytical skills to demonstrate "added value", even though this skill set was not one we learned when getting our degree. And don't forget to add to this mix the necessity of always marketing our services and building relationships with our customers to keep ourselves top of mind as the provider of information to the organization.
Finally, it's also imperative that we make the time to align our information services with key organizational markets and initiatives. We also must make sure we understand the true information needs of the organization—the context of the information use—and leverage that knowledge to improve our image and effectiveness to the organization at large.
With theses changes, however, may also come an opportunity. We have often lamented the stereotypical views of librarians. I don't just mean the "shushing", bun-in-hair, does-it-all, available-to-everyone images. I'm speaking more of the way people perceive us as lacking a strategic point of view. Is it because, as Nigel Oxbrow of TFPL reported in an Information Outlook article ("Skills and Competencies to Succeed in a Knowledge Economy," October, 2000), traditionally, the information professional possesses a core set of skills that stresses sharing rather than strategy and this very skill set may, in fact, be a detriment for information professionals who would like to move into high-level, decision-making positions?
If that's true, now may be the time to take advantage of the changes in our industry. We can view this as a paradigm shift, a change in the rules that establish our boundaries and provide guidelines for our success. We need to make a fundamental change in how others perceive us. To do this, we need to transform our long-held traditional roles into a role that empowers others, builds key relationships, and, finally, is proactive in anticipating needs and providing the most appropriate solutions.
Judy Luther, in a presentation on "The Transparent Librarian," (www.dynix.com/institute/seminar/index.asp?sem=20041013) encourages us that librarians are needed now more than ever, but we need to develop new skills. And last week I moderated a panel for the Texas SLA chapter on dealing with change. Our panelists shared stories that ranged from a lesson on creating a best practice for product evaluation, to a library that had downsized from 1,700 square feet to 70 square feet, to one that had moved from complete paper delivery to almost total electronic delivery. Interestingly, each person had dealt with different aspects of change in the industry today, each had developed the additional skills required to address the issue, and each had emerged a better and less traditional information professional for the experience.
So, how about you? Are you ready to welcome change and look for ways to become an even better information professional?
For more on practical leadership tips, and details
of full workshops included in the Quantum2 program,
visit the Website at quantum.dialog.com.