Workshop 2 ~ What is the library and information science profession

To be as clear as mud 

The Burning of the Library at Alexandria in 391 AD

The Burning of the Library at Alexandria in 391 AD

The trouble with having an open mind, of course,
is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

In the second workshop, students were able to explore, consider and reflect upon what is now deemed the library and information science profession. There were 4 guest speakers that came from various sectors of employ, discussing their current positions and what role or value their LIS skills/knowledge have ensuring professional success. It would have been very interesting to have heard the audio recording of the guest speakers as one particular, Laney Robinson, is a work colleague of mine with Logan City Council Public Libraries. Unfortunately however, the audio recording for this specific workshop was not available though a similar audio recording by Helen Partridge was accessed under the archived Workshops 2013 section.

Two of the video links available within Deb Ponting’s presentation granted a stark contrast between history of libraries and where libraries were leaping from (into the future) back in 2009. It is blatant that access to information has been heavily impacted upon since the last quarter of the 20th century, when information became easily accessible through publications and through the revolution of technological advances, such as accessibility to information through the computer and computer networks. This period of time is known as the beginnings of the Information Age and it is understood that its impact has caused a dramatic shift to the traditional role of Librarians managing information contained in books or other paper records. Nowadays Librarians, or better yet – information professionals, require solid skills in being able to physically or technologically locate, retrieve and disseminate information that is either available in electronic, visual, audio, digital materials and/or hard copy formats.

The term ‘information professional’ is actually rather versatile as it is also used to describe other similar professions, such as archivists, information managers, information systems specialists, and records managers who can be identified in a variety of private, public, and academic institutions. Since technology has made information more mobile, allowing for instant access to information across the globe, the role of a library and/or information professional now requires skills and attributes that are also varied. The library and information science profession does in fact have a number of specializations acknowledged underneath its generic term and therefore, technology-based competency attributes are needed to possessed by an information professional, let alone librarian. Additional skills such in planning and using relevant systems, in capturing and securing information, and in accessing it to deliver service whenever information is required can also be acknowledged as a requirement dependent upon the information professional role.

When reflecting on how information is accessible worldwide, there a definite digital divide between the East and the West as it can be said, the future of western libraries will be very much electronically based, whereas within ‘developing’ countries people still rely upon accessing information by way of old card catalogue systems and hard copy books. In saying that, I have found through Fieldwork Placements, even specialist libraries such as the Research Library of Art Gallery South Australia (AGSA) are in a similar position to the East when considering the very stringent budgets are allocated in maintaining specialist collections. AGSA’s library still uses the old card catalogue system!

Workshop 2 also discussed professional bodies that seek to further the library and information science profession. It was stated in lecture slides that these professional bodies are a usually consist of people in learned occupations and who are entrusted with maintaining control or oversight of the legitimate practice of the profession. Additionally, such bodies often act to protect the public by maintaining and enforcing standards of training and ethics within the profession. Furthermore, these bodies develop and monitor professional educational programs and the updating of skill-sets required by those engaged within the profession.

The oldest professional body acknowledged by the library and information science profession is the American Library Association (ALA), founded in 1876. Today, ALA provides leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services. Another notable professional body identified in this workshop was the introduction of IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations. I have been aware of IFLA since early 2012 while in the first year, second semester of my university studies. In fact earlier this year, an opportunity arose for me to attend IFLA’s Metropolitan Libraries (METLIB) sub division annual conference, METLIB2014, that was hosted by Auckland City Council Public Libraries in Auckland, New Zealand.

Australia’s national professional organisation for the library and information services sector is ALIA, the Australian Library and Information Association and was established in 1937. ALIA’s website states that the organisation seeks to empower the profession through the development, promotion and delivery of quality library and information services to the nation, through leadership, advocacy and mutual professional support while adhering to a constitution and guidance by its vision, mission, objects and values.

Understanding what the information and library science profession is over the last few years through study and while employed as a Customer Service Officer ~ MultiMedia, this workshop’s material has highlighted (glaringly to me) the importance of stepping up and making that ‘membership’ connection while enabling that network capability in making a difference.

I’m no longer just the tinker of library IT technologies, I am a Information Professional Librarian that still tinkers!

Image Source

The Burning of the Library at Alexandria in 391 AD, illustration from ‘Hutchinsons History of the Nations’, c.1910 (litho), Dudley, Ambrose (fl. 1920s) / Private Collection / The Stapleton Collection / The Bridgeman Art Library. Retrieved October, 2014 from
This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

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