Are we Informationists?

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Are all Librarians Informationists?

Essentially the term was initially used to describe Medical Librarians who were individuals with extensive clinical expertise, acute familiarity with organizational structures and processes, as well as being information systems technical savvy.

There doesn’t seem to be one set educational pathway or formalized set of skills or knowledge for informationists. However, there does seem to be some diversity and evolution from the original definition outlined above taking place now. The evolution of the term can be found in other sectors e.g financial services, academia and research, governance and strategists. Although you may feel your expertise begets you this title, it only really refers to individuals with acute industry knowledge and the wherewithal to combine their librarianship with technical know-how.

So how does this compare to the Embedded librarian role?

~ Informationist: Librarianship + extensive research specialisation + formal education in sector e.g clinical
…it also extends to industry expertise, acute familiarity of organisational structure and processes

~ Embedded Librarian: Librarianship + extensive research specialisation + project involvement + partnerships
…embedded also means being a part of any outcomes

Based on this, my opinion is that not all librarians are Informationists, but a lot more of them are than we think! If we all plan to move forwards with librarianship as the century proceeds, it would be prudent to see where there are gaps that can be filled by such a role. Certainly I can see that being an Informationist would be a sustainable ‘librarian’ role for the future as we look to see where the skills set of the librarian can be used across different corporate and educational sectors.

battered books

Industry expertise and familiarity with organizational structures and processes would usually be the remit of management, and although the librarian or informationist can be a manager, it would be less effective to utilise their skills set in this way. That said, because the skills set does include basic librarianship knowledge i.e categorization, organisation, information retrieval, research, it does place them in the prime position to take this role, and to evolve it even further.


” thoughts from scarlettlibrarian”

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