As always, your suggestions for workshop topics are welcomed. Also, if you know a friend or colleague who would benefit from Quantum2, please encourage them to sign up today.
Dear Quantum2 Member...
Also, we are delivering a Quantum2 session as a continuing education course on Saturday, June 10 (see details below). And we have yet another new Quantum2 coach to introduce. Finally, I thought we might also talk a bit this month about best practices.
Quantum2 AT SLA
At the forthcoming SLA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Quantum2 coaches will be offering a half-day Continuing Education (CE) course on Saturday, June 10. To register for this event, please visit the SLA Conference Web site.
Getting to Know Your Quantum2 Coach:
Ron Rodrigues, a California native, worked for Dialog from 1990-1998 as an engineering and defense file specialist, and he rejoined the organization in 2005 as a Senior Content Specialist. Ron has 33 years experience in online research and has worked for 30 years as a reference librarian in public, Department of Defense, academic and corporate libraries. He specializes in all aspects of engineering and physical science library research, particularly in the field of Geopolitics and Geosciences, i.e., Remote Sensing, Aerial Photogrammetry and Cartography.
To read more about Ron, visit our website.
Quantum2 Topic of the Month:
In 2003, Caroline Oades, in her article "Benchmarking Workplace Libraries", wrote:
In a business environment characterized by new ways of doing business and fiercely competitive marketplaces, workplace libraries are facing major challenges. Key to meeting these is the ability to demonstrate value for money and return on investment through the provision of highest quality service aligned with organisational[sic] goals. In this turbulent setting, the ability to share best practice and pool experience is invaluable and provides the workplace information manager with the opportunity not only to learn from others, but also to help establish and strengthen perceptions of the in-house information unit as being among the most effective. *
Definition: The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines best practice as a working method, or set of working methods, which is officially accepted as being the best to use in a particular business or industry, usually described formally and in detail. **
Basically, despite various nuances in definition, a best practice falls into one of two categories, either internal to the business or external within the industry.
Pitfalls: Although using best practices is ideal for optimum performance, you may encounter some obstacles. Internally, there are potential pitfalls in several areas. First, it is sometimes difficult to make tacit knowledge explicit or to explain exactly what is done in a "step by step" fashion to create a best practice. Additionally, the time it takes to research and create a best practice in a resource-shy environment may often seem overwhelming. Another stumbling block can be the identification of critical business knowledge that pinpoints gaps in the current process. Finally, it also takes some effort to implement and gain acceptance of a best practice within the organization as, frequently, it's much easier to continue with the current "accepted" workflow.
As for external obstacles, the cost of purchasing benchmarking reports or outsourced surveys can strain budgets. And, although there is discussion in the literature about working with colleagues in other organizations to share best practices, you may find that a best practice is considered a competitive advantage and so precludes this type of cooperation.
Why adopt best practices? As information professionals are expected to do more with less these days, ever maximizing their current resources, adopting a best practice can help improve the work processes for delivery of products and services to better meet the needs of clients. That translates into achieving effectiveness, efficiencies and economies that are extremely important to senior management. It also aids in building stronger relationships across the organization. Perhaps most importantly, however, this type of effort, if communicated properly, will help prove the value of the information center to customers, raising the level of its importance to the organization and, further, helping to gain improved support from upper management.
In other words, to achieve excellence today for your information services, you need to create best practices in your organization to keep up with the trends and combat the challenges you face when trying to prove the value of the services you provide.
*Oades, C. "Benchmarking workplace libraries", Library and Information Research News, v27,n87,p47(8), Winter, 2003.
**Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 2003.
For more information on this topic, you may attend our Quantum2 workshop, "Achieving Operational Excellence: Best Practices for Information Services."