Competency B

compare the environments and organizational settings in which library and information professionals practice;

Information professionals work in many capacities from traditional librarians to user interface developers. The diverse job opportunities make for extensive differences in the working environment. For this competency, I would like to submit several different pieces of evidence. One is a review of my previous company’s web development team. Another is a paper on choosing between traditional and digital libraries and a third is presentation on CNET’s taxonomy project. Each of these projects focuses on a sector of industry where information professionals could end up working.

I worked on Virgin Mobile USA’s web team several years ago and discussed with the team my opinions of our group’s organization and management. Web developers work in an environment where knowledge of information organization is crucial. Developers need to know how to make websites with a usable underlying structure. Generally, an information architect or designer wire-frames and sets the design layout of the website. The web developer will set up the folder structure and put the files into meaningful locations. While only other web developers on the particular site will ever see this organization, the structure can be helpful or a complete hindrance when coding for the site. This position has some information professional aspects because she manipulates data by displaying for the user.

Traditionally web developers were the persons who created the functionality requested by the designers and user interface designers. As the Internet has evolved, cases have been made for those responsible for the site, such as developers, designers, user interface and copywriters working more closely together. This kind of project design would keep the key players on the same page with decisions and reasons for building in a particular way. Several recent articles have commented on designs not working properly because the actual copy and final images were placed after the wire frame design was compete. I feel that more communication and collaboration would result in better quality websites, which will better serve the information.

For an article review paper on digital libraries, I compared the different benefits patrons found in a traditional brick and mortar to a digital library. Even with the main focus of my ePortfolio being on the digital aspect of libraries, I realize a brick and mortar library continues to hold appeal and draw for patrons. Librarians and information workers will obviously be working for a traditional library. Digital libraries are likely to have librarians and a large percentage of technical employees. This particular paper discusses how different patrons at different times in their lives will use different offerings at libraries. The patrons were retirees, business students and undergraduates. These patrons clearly had different needs from their libraries; however, all of them wanted easy access to digital information and computers. At the traditional university library, some undergraduates were all for getting rid of all the books and replacing them with computers while the graduate students wanted access to both printed and digital materials. Retirees in Australia wanted space for computer classes, book clubs and other classes. The students expressed a desire for more areas to meet for collaborative work.

In the articles, it was clear neither digital nor traditional libraries were going to disappear. The different kinds of libraries add more employment opportunities for librarians. The librarian who prefers a brick and mortar academic library can still find them and a librarian programmer can work at making information digitally accessible. Each of these librarians need to have general librarianship skills as well as specialized ones. I believe diverse environments allow for more opportunities for a librarian’s professional growth. With the many opportunities for new librarians, we are only limited by our perceptions of what information organization is.

My third piece of evidence is an interview with a former colleague involved in CNET’s taxonomy project. I presented my findings to the class through an Elluminate session. My former colleague was working as UX designer for CNET and the project spanned several different knowledge domains. There were product managers, engineers, content analysts and UX designers. The website houses terabytes of information in the form of articles, images, videos, audio and advertisements. The main goal was to improve the search functionality, serve content relevant advertising and allow users to create folksonomies. While creating a taxonomy for a website of this size is not a typical librarian task in a brick and mortar library, the skills used are equivalent to cataloging and creating thesauri. There is a clear connection between taxonomies and thesauri. The main difference is the type of institution wherein a librarian will create or utilize them. The working environment of CNET or any other technology company is certainly different than an academic library but again, the librarian can choose the place best suited to her.

For the nascent librarian and information professional, there are many opportunities and careers where one can apply the skills learned in this program. Not only are there the many forms of libraries but also technology companies, software companies and movie studios. Pixar is located in Emeryville and they employ a librarian to catalog their collections. Another former coworker of mine and graduate of this program is a project manager for a large website. Her plan is to become a traditional librarian as a second career later in life. My classmate last semester recently emailed me and mentioned he felt many of us would not end up in traditional libraries but rather in companies who understand the importance of organized information. These companies will have many different working cultures and tasks, in turn giving librarians more options to choose the right fit.


Taxonomies at C|Net

Organizational Analysis of Virgin Mobile USA's Web Team

Choosing Between Digital and Traditional Libraries