Professional Associations React to the Challenge

By Quint, Barbara | Searcher, May 1996 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Professional Associations React to the Challenge


Quint, Barbara, Searcher


With a wave of outsourcing affecting information professionals across the country, many turn to their professional associations for guidance and assistance. This month's column will interview leaders of two of the most prominent associations representing multiple sides of the question -- the Special Libraries Association and the Association of Independent Information Professionals. For the sake of editorial honesty, let me confess to Searcher readers that the interviewer is a member of both associations.

David Bender Executive Director, Special Libraries Association (SLA)

BQ: Outsourcing is such a complex, multi-sided issue. But it must be especially complicated for an organization like the Special Libraries Association. Your members must come from all sides of the issue -- targets and outsourcers and professionals who use outsourcing as a tool. I know the issue confuses me as a professional searcher. Where does SLA stand on outsourcing?

Bender. Well, if you're confused, I'm not sure where I stand either. It was easier in the early days of federal government outsourcing. The Association took a position that straddled the issue. Ten percent of our members were entrepreneurs going after the "contracting out" business; the other 90 percent were against it. Today we're still kind of caught in the same situation. A number of our members do contractual work; a number contract out and are happy with it; some are frightened to death; and others haven't thought about it.

Some time ago, the Association put together a paper on the issue. It said that the Association considered outsourcing as an issue that deserved attention and needed careful examination and study. Before any company or institution went into outsourcing, they should ask four questions. How would outsourcing this function affect the corporate memory? How would it affect the integrity of our data? What is the standing and/or reliability of this contractor? What are the cost advantages and disadvantages? Those are the issues. If outsourcing could satisfy one's needs in some way, then there's no reason not to pursue it. We have never said outsourcing is a good or a bad thing, just that you had to investigate it yourself and weigh the merits.

At this point, that's still basically the position the Association has followed and continues to pursue. We have held back a little because of more recent happenings like Teltech's takeover of GE libraries and activities in Boston of the Yankee Group.

BQ: The Yankee Group? Bender. Yes. They're an overall outsourcer, much broader than Teltech, which is a member of AIIP, by the way. Their corporate services include accounting and all areas of business operations. They ran a study on outsourcing in Forbes last year as an ad section. In the article, a number of companies ran ads for outsourcing that were broader than just information services. But the article was significant because it brought out information technology and databases as one area of possibility for outsourcing. It never mentioned libraries specifically, but it implied this as an area for consideration. With all that, we have gone to a couple of small groups of members and, based in part on their reactions, decided not to get actively involved with an outsourcer yet.

Mainly we have looked at information services to see where one would place it in benchmarking. Is information a core competency? And it kept coming back that information in any company is a core competency.

We feel our members should handle outsourcing like any other issue. Outsourcers may have a role to play in a well-managed information service, especially for mechanical things like online searching, pulling together reports, arranging statistics.

BQ: Hey! What do you mean mechanical things like online searching" Hmmph.

Bender. GE kept a covey of information professionals to do some searches, like patents and product development. But some kinds of searching are very standard, three to five word matches or historical ones where the researcher just needs some help.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Professional Associations React to the Challenge
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?