Lynne Brindley, 51, was appointed chief executive of the British Library in July 2000. Having trained as a librarian, she has worked in academia and also in management consultancy. She remains a visiting professor in knowledge and information management at both Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan universities.
"Libraries, information and knowledge are central to all businesses. In the private sector, the role enables one to make a truly corporate contribution across the whole organisation. In universities, it's core to teaching, learning and research, and it means working with every subject, and with students through to professors.
"If, like me, you're interested in everything, you can take advantage of that. I've always been excited by technology, and libraries and technology are interlinked. I thought at one time about going into computing, but its application in a service industry was still more appealing. Libraries make a difference to lives.
"In my current role, the challenge lies in taking forward one of the greatest national libraries in the world. There's a need to keep the core values of the institution while modernising services and functions for the 21st century. It's an enormous management challenge.
"My advice to anyone starting out in this profession is to have the self- confidence to move outside your particular domain. Always push further into the wider business of your institution, whether it's a local authority, company or university. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable but it is important."
Chris Batt, 54, runs the Government's pounds 170m People's Network Project, providing ICT (information communication technology) learning cen- tres in the UK's 4,300 public librar- ies. He is also acting chief executive of Resource, the advisory body for libraries, museums and archives.
"My biggest buzz comes from talking to an enthusiastic audience about the future of ICT for libraries."
Patrick Conway, 51, is director of Arts, Libraries and Museums for County Durham. He was responsible for the establishment in 1986 of Gateshead's first talking newspaper, issued free of charge and designed for the blind and partially sighted.
"Local libraries are exciting and dangerous places. Therefore librarians must take risks."
Sheila Corrall, 51, spent 10 years at the British Library before moving into the academic sector in 1991. She is now director of Academic Support Services at the University of Southampton. Ms Corrall is also president of the new Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).
"Our profession is about making connections - between people and information - in a fast-changing world."
Allan Foster, 53, started his career at the British Institute of Management before moving on to higher education. He is currently director of Information Services at Keele University, where he is responsible for libraries, IT and media services.
"A crucial insight for me has been to see libraries and information services as an inherent part of the knowledge and learning environment in an organisation. …