Students in the SJSU iSchool’s graduate programs are required to demonstrate their ability to “describe and compare organizational settings in which information professionals practice“. The information profession is broadening and changing with continuing advances in technology. There are new types of information professionals that did not exist previously e.g. Open Source librarians, Digital Asset Librarian, Assessment and Analytic Librarian, and Discovery Librarian. The types of organization in which information professionals work are expanding just as the library science field is expanding. Information professionals now work in a myriad of places outside of the traditional library environment. The ALA lists types of libraries that exist in the many types of fields related to information such as art libraries, music libraries, medical libraries, and law libraries to name a few.
Previously librarians worked for Public, academic, school, Law, medical, government libraries. Now library professionals work in a variety of fields including for corporations, consulting firms, independent firms, and non-profit organizations. Many organizations and services are offered virtually now including librarians who work entirely virtually in games such as second life. The ideal and structure of the organizational setting that now house working information professionals has become vastly different from previous times in the history of librarianship. The world of librarianship has a wide range of flexibility in the types of organizations that employ librarians such as museums, libraries, Law offices, Universities, governments offices, corporations, schools, hospitals, art galleries, military bases, and nonprofit agencies. This list does not include all the work environments in which information professionals can work the American Library Association (ALA) lists many more types of non-traditional jobs for information professionals. It is important to think about information work in the settings and organizations in which it occurs. The main division between these types of organizations is information organizations that are profit versus nonprofit.
The one of the main division between these types of organizations that employ information professionals is information organizations for-profit versus nonprofit. Each of these organizational settings in which information professionals practice have different practices, purposes, and information needs. The for-profit versus nonprofit types of organizations has very different motivations, funding, organizational structures, management, and resources. These create vastly different working environments for information professionals. It is important to understand the dynamics of a variety of working environments and have flexibility in order to be a successful information professional in the 21st century. Understanding organizational makeup will be key to effectively operate as an information professional in this age.
Nonprofit organizations are organizations such as public libraries or libraries that serve the public or local residents. Local governments, federal governments, grants, or charitable donations typically fund nonprofit organizations. As stated by Evans and Alire (2013), “Financial resources are generally derived from outside funding sources (Such as taxes, grants, and private benefactors) rather than from sales of services”. Budgeting and financial management can be a major concern for these types of institutions. These organizations often depend on fundraising in order to operate or to expand services. The budgets to pay staff, purchase materials, and maintain facilities are controlled by outside sources. This type of funding leads to large disparities in resources depending on the income of the surrounding area. Areas with higher gross incomes tend to have public organizations such as libraries with considerable endowments and can leave low-income areas lacking for resources. In addition, as Evans and Alire (2013) describe, “Many nonprofit organizations are public rather than private and are therefore subject to public scrutiny in ways for-profits are not”. Nonprofit typically have to answer to boards or justify budgets to city councils or other local governments. Public institutions are often required to be very transparent with their finances, practices, policies, and these can be subject to outside influences more so than for-profit organizations. The current nonprofit organization a community college requires that its employee’s information be available to the public and its employees’ salaries are published yearly in the local newspaper. These organizations often have an executive office such as presidents, deans, or directors who have to answer to stakeholders for major decisions such as increasing staff or budgets and are typically bound to institutional policies and structures.
For-profit institutions such as corporations, law firms, database vendors, architecture firms, engineering firms my house their own collections or libraries and can employ information professionals to maintain them. These institutions collections tend to be specialized design for a specific purpose or on specific subject matter. These organizations may house their collections for internal purposes only or for in the case of vendors to market to libraries. Their funding and staffing are dependent solely on profits and budgets. They are typically the goals of these institution revolves around maximizing profits. Their management structure is usually profit driven and can come in various forms such as organizational model s or tied to the organizations’ policies and structures. Library vendors employ information professionals as for a multitude of positions such as consultants, product marketers, product trainers, and product educators. These types of for-profit institutions are not merely service driven but are also market growth. These organizations may have stockholders to answer to and profit growth as well as shareholder value to consider structuring their work environment. This can lead to a considerable different working environment than the non-profit sector.
Government libraries employ information professionals at the state and federal level. This branch of librarianships includes both libraries and institutions that are not libraries such as museums. These libraries are not-for-profit libraries, but they are different from standard non-profit institutions. The Library of Congress, for example, is a federal library that houses a national collection that was created for the purpose of being the research arm of Congress. This library does not loan out materials in its collection, but it is available to read on the premises. The library is open to the public, but it multifaceted and operates differently than traditional non-profit libraries or organizations. Government libraries or institution’s services parameters often deter from the standard practices or purposes of nonprofit organizations. Military libraries, for example, may serve only military personnel and their families without allowing access to the general public. Military libraries that exist on a military base also must follow the procedures and policies of that military installation. These types of institutions typically serve a purpose to the state or federal governments that fund their organization. These types of organizations can be very specialized and may be governed by multiple regulatory standards. Libraries on military installations have to contend with broader privacy considerations such as OPSEC which is a set of protocols designed to protect unclassified information that could be used to damage national security or endanger the lives of service members, government employees, and their families. These considerations go beyond the standard privacy issues that other types of libraries or institutions have to consider. Even the Library of Congress has to be mindful of military regulations and federal regulation regarding veterans when considering its collections and when working in cooperation with military academies (for example see Library of Congress and five military service academies sign a cooperative agreement ).
In order to provide evidence of my competency in comparing information organizations and their practices I have gathered the following pieces of pieces of evidence to illustrate my understanding of organizational settings and various practices related to these organizational settings:
My first piece of evidence is the Collection Policy Analysis from my collection development course. The assignment required students to choose an organization that employs information professionals and analysis its collection policy and then add into a Google doc to read over and compares the various policies that government multiple types of libraries and organizations that employ information professionals then present your analysis to a group. We discussed whether various institutions had a mission statement, vision statement, selection criteria, textbook policies, weeding policies, and challenged material policies. It also discussed the type of organization, the name of the organization, the date it was revised, and who adopted the policy. I included this project as evidence of my understanding of the nature of information organizations and my ability to describe information settings as well as compare multiple types of information settings. This work includes identifying types of information organizations including school, academic, public, government, and special libraries. It also includes describing policies, who adopts policies within a particular setting, who is responsible for building and maintaining collections in a particular information setting. This assignment gave us the ability to compare our chosen setting against other information settings to gain a better understanding of how various information settings handle collections and policies. It gave me the knowledge required to describe and compare information settings effectively in relation to collection development. The assignment required us to describe policies related to collection development in an information setting. I contributed the policies related to a community college academic library. These collection policies added to Google doc and compared by the class. The practices of public, academic, elementary school, middle school, and high school libraries for students to compare and to gain a better understanding of the organizational settings in which information professional practice:
I included my presentation 1 from INFO 266 as part of my evidence of my ability to describe an organization setting in which information professionals practices. In presentation 1 we need to describe an organizational setting and the collection housed in that organizations setting. We also need to include information describing the community in which the organization operated. This presentation demonstrates my ability and understanding of how to describe a given organization setting.
Click here for my presentation: INFO 266 Presentation 1
My final piece of evidence is the organization Analysis of an information organization that was completed by my group for INFO 201 as part one of a two-part project which included creating a strategic plan for a library. I included both parts of this assignment as evidence. This assignment was to do an organizational analysis of the information organization chosen by the group. We described the mission, vision, performed an environmental scan, described funding, economic trends, employment trends, political trends, socioeconomic factors, legal factors, competition, and technology related to an organization that employs information professionals. We performed a SWOT analysis of an organizational setting and literature review related to organization analysis. This demonstrates an understanding of how to describe, assess, and compare organizational environments in which information professionals operate. We then created a strategic plan for that library. I was the group’s editor, assistant researcher, an assistant writer. When our writer when unable to complete large portions of the writing. I step in and completed the sections in the environmental scan. I collaborated with the group via Google docs to write the mission, vision, and goals. Each group member contributed to writing a goal, the mission, and the vision. The editor is responsible for compiling the final project, editing for style and formatting. The editor may take on additional writing responsibilities and will work closely with the managing writer and researcher.
Click here for my assignment: Info 204 Part 1 of Organizational Analysis
The information profession is flexible and provides a variety of opportunities to explore under the library and information science umbrella.The information profession is flexible and provides a variety of opportunities to explore the library and information science umbrella. As advances in technology continue to challenge libraries it also has expanded the field of library science. The field is increasing more technical as databases evolve, digital humanities expand, and collections become increasingly digital. This has provided many new types of librarianship and continues to expand our field with positions such as digital humanities librarians, STEM librarians, and discovery librarians. The types of librarianship that exist within the field are extremely diverse and the organizations that employment information professionals are equally diverse. Organizations from universities to elementary schools and all education levels in between offer positions for information professionals. There are opportunities in public and private sectors these institutions share a core set of skills that make up the foundation of the information profession. The skills I utilize in my current position in a community college library are also transferable to four-year institutions and public libraries alike. I have been acquainted with several librarians in my current position that worked in throughout the spectrum of librarianship during the career from, to the school librarian, to the public, and then finally as an academic librarian. The faculty that has taught me during my time at San Jose State University have been equally diverse in their library experience. I have had professors that work in school libraries, as trainers for ProQuest, public librarians, academic librarians, and government librarians each instructor have imparted skills to me that will be valuable to any work environment. The ability to work in diverse environments is an extremely appealing aspect of the information field. I look forward to where the windy path of librarianship might lead me in the future.
Evans, G.E., & Alire, C.A. (2013). Management basics for information professionals (3rd ed.) [Kindle Fire version]. Available from Amazon.com