ASIS&T 2006 START Conference Manager    

New role realities: avenues for extending the reach of information specialists

Angela Abell & Hazel Hall

ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006


This submission is made in response to the call for presentations on the nature of the information profession in the digital future.

As organisations have developed enterprise-wide electronic information environments, a diverse range of job roles has emerged at a variety of levels. These include work that is strategic and developmental, as well as lower-level activities that might be labelled simply as “operational”. Some of these roles are earmarked for “traditional” information specialists, but many are not - and although some information specialists have moved into this kind of work, others from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds occupy many of the newly-created information-related positions.

This paper will report on a project undertaken jointly by a team of researchers from the corporate and academic sectors in the UK. The project aims to consolidate and strengthen understanding of the emerging information job market, with a view to indicating how those in the “traditional” information profession may extend their occupational reach. The research approach includes: (1) content analysis of job advertisements and descriptions, from 2004 onwards, of roles of relevance to the management of enterprise-wide electronic information environments; (2) consultation with stakeholders in the UK information job market, such as information management recruiters and employers, and (3) in-depth interviews with representatives from organisations that employ people in roles that could be occupied by traditional information specialists, but currently are not. A strength of the work to be presented is that it takes discussion beyond the natural constituency of earlier studies that have attempted to predict the nature of information profession in the digital future. It is argued that previous work in this area, which typically uses in its title the phrase “the role of the information professional”, has failed to deliver adequate insight. This is due to introspective research approaches that have focused on data collection exercises within the boundaries of the domain of the “traditional” information profession.

The focus on enterprise-wide electronic information roles is expected to lead to the development of a framework of current and emerging roles that will be relevant to knowledge and information management capabilities, and to the associated job market. It will map out roles, and highlight associated key challenges of relevance to the ASIS&T membership. It is anticipated that this framework will be core to the presentation to be made at the ASIS&T meeting in November 2006, should this presentation proposal be accepted. It will be of particular interest to delegates keen to explore the existing scope of work opportunities for information professionals in electronic environments, and to those whose ambitions lie in preparing for, responding to, and leading the future information world.

START Conference Manager (V2.52.6)