The following post is Paula Cohen's account of the August 11th Idea Exchange program. Paula Cohen is SLA Boston's Director of Strategic Planning.
Idea Exchange, a SLA Boston program held August 11th, was a collaborative exercise that allowed attendees to discuss a challenge/issue in small groups and present ideas/solutions to all attendees. The program was graciously hosted by Dee Magnoni, Library/Knowledge Lab Director of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering Library, past president of SLA Boston, and current chair of Leadership and Management Division. We also had the pleasure of SLA President-Elect Candidates, David Cappoli and Deb Hunt’s attendance as the two joined the collaborative discussion, offering excellent insights and perspectives to all groups.
We were all asked to come to the program with one question as a discussion topic. In all, the topics sorted into 4 main categories: Professional development, Value of the profession in relation to Information Overload, Retirement – transition concerns, and Vendor/Publisher fluidity and Budget concerns.
As the program announcement promised, the format was an experiential and engaging dialogue among attendees. The forum provided an opportunity for participants to converse with peers about challenges and/or issues they’re facing and to learn best practices, ideas, and solutions to overcome them.
I joined the “Professional Development” group where our discussion centered on a group member’s dilemma - her role as an Information Specialist, a role she has held for seven years, was expanding and evolving toward a new area. This brought up common threads we’ve been hearing about and many of us face around coping with change, learning new of skills and software, and new expectations. While this new direction set off a strong current of trepidation, all of us in the group concurred that she was headed in the right direction, and will be acquiring highly marketable skills. The program was a great opportunity and safe forum for her to air her concerns. We achieved the mission and more with the attendee leaving satisfied, with a positive perspective to carry to her work.
The capstone of each topic discussion involved summarizing the key points. Examples from the Retirement and Value of the Profession groups:
Retirement group takeaways:
- Have a transition plan
- Disseminate critical information to team and others
- Place key staff in leadership roles
- Mentoring and grooming staff for leadership roles is very important
Value of Profession takeaways:
- Information professionals can position themselves as experts to help contend with information overload
- Find out about your non-users; seek opportunities to outreach to this group to convert them to users.
- Understand the process of how your users use information
- Assist with information needs being conscious of individual characteristics and behavior
- Informal communications are very effective
- Meet them (end users) where they are
As always with events like these, the time seemed to evaporate too quickly. Let’s encourage Khalilah to think of the August 11th event as the first in a series.
Following the program, Dee guided us on a tour of the innovative and exciting Olin Library, offering us a glimpse into a unique academic experience at Olin.
Pictures from the event will be posted shortly.
Let’s continue the idea exchange online. Do these issues/concerns echo similarly to yours? What ideas/solutions do you have that address these issues/concerns? We look forward to your comments on LinkedIn or to the blog post.