I have met many librarians from all walks of life in my career. Aside from a fascination (obsession?) with information, another similarity is many of them have also walked a crooked path to get where they are today. My story is no different.
Being a millennial, I have been fortunate enough to grow up with technology. What was the radio and TV for many of my peers in the library world, I had the computer and the internet. My first foray into the library world started with an interview for a technical specialist position at Pomona Public Library. I was interviewing to be the library’s “computer guy” and as a result of a lengthy interview process, I was offered a position at the reference desk. My background in life sciences coupled with my research skills would serve the library better answering patrons’ reference questions on immigration, history, genealogy and science instead of troubleshooting computer problems.
I moved down to San Diego to finish my Bachelor’s at UC San Diego (go Tritons!) and looked into part-time positions at the schools’ library. I found an opening for a part-time library assistant position at Amylin Pharmaceuticals. It was my first foray into the corporate world and 3 weeks into my tenure, I got my first taste of the (sometimes) harsh reality of the pharma world.
Amylin was downsizing its workforce by 25%.
Our entire department was on the list, but my boss (and since mentor) successfully built a business case to keep a library. We were reorganized from IT to R&D Operations, but her department was no longer staffed by trained MLIS librarians – just her and a part-time student.
The workload was not reduced with the workforce so my part-time role quickly morphed into an odd hours full-time role. A few hours of work in the morning, followed by a round of classes, then back to the office in the afternoon to kill time until night class, class, and back to the office again – rinse and repeat. With the understanding that our library was a service organization, I looked at automating our processes to free up our resources to focus on more strategic work. The quick gains in efficiency were realized with technologies like link resolvers, a completely redesigned SharePoint portal and an in-house developed budgeting tool to track resource portfolio KPIs.
Again, all of this allowed us to be more strategic in our thinking, and afforded us the time necessary to work with our user base regularly to stay ahead of the curve. I talk about the need for libraries to be seen as proactive and trusted partners in their organizations in my webinars. Utilizing technology as a primary method to simplify processes and automate them in many instances enables librarians to focus on their user base and engage with them far more. I would go on to learn Lean/Six Sigma and apply the tools I learned back to Knowledge Management.
I use the Lean/Six Sigma framework to build robust business cases for process improvement to the information services world. Delivering information – whether it’s document delivery, a 3rd party database, an internal EDMS, or a piece of tacit knowledge – is a process, not an art. It’s only when we step back and understand information as an input to a process with an actionable insight or product as outputs, that we can understand the steps to get there and explore opportunities to improve it.
So what’s next?
In addition to pursuing my Master’s in Information & Knowledge Strategy at Columbia, I am constantly exploring innovative solutions to drive innovation in organizations. As I have outlined in previous blogs, mobile is growing at an incredible rate and it is paramount that we find tools (e.g. platforms, integrations, etc.) that support the shift in how we work. The use cases in enterprise are bound only by your imagination. Each use case is dependent on the needs of the organization, like enabling better prospecting for field-based salesforces, mobilizing an existing application or providing a vehicle for collaboration.
With a seemingly endless list of possible use cases to pursue, finding a platform that is flexible not only in functionality, but also flexible to integrate with the slew of systems that will need to be integrated with the mobile platform over time. We’ll take a deeper look at mobile-as-a-platform (MAAP) or mobile-enterprise-application-management (MEAP) in an upcoming blog.
Have a thought, question or comment? Let’s get to know each other better. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or e-mail me directly to share your story. I’d love to have the opportunity to hear about your library and the challenges you face in delivering information to the right people at the right time.