The Cutting-Edge Library at Shell Research

By Pack, Thomas; Pemberton, Jeff | Online, July-August 1999 | Go to article overview

The Cutting-Edge Library at Shell Research


Pack, Thomas, Pemberton, Jeff, Online


Thomas Pack (thomaspack@aol.com) is a freelance writer based in Peewee Valley, KY. Jeff Pemberton (jeffp@onlineinc.com) is Publisher of ONLINE magazine.

Camments? Email letters to the Editor at editar@onlineinc.com.

If you see the word "explosion" in the same sentence as the phrase "information professionals," you probably expect to read about some type of disaster-especially when you learn that the facility the professionals work in belongs to a petroleum company.

But explosions are business as usual for the information professionals at the Shell Research & Technology Centre in Thornton, England. The facility was established as a research laboratory during the Second World War, when it developed fuel for Spitfire fighter planes. Since then, Shell Research has become known for its expertise in fuels, lubricants, and combustion science.

The scientists-about 500 chemists, engineers, biologists, physicists, mathematicians, computer experts and support staff-pay special attention to "developing new fuels and lubes," said Andy Cooke, manager of the laboratory's Information Centre, "but also on this site, we have a Health, Safety & Environment group dealing with the fate and effects of oil products. The HSE group is also recognised as a world expert in risk assessments and hazards research, including the consequences and mitigation of fires and explosions."

Cooke added that the laboratory has "other groups doing all the analysis work and the measurement technologies which go into having to test lots of different fuels and lubes in cars in the laboratory and on the roads."

Meeting the information needs of the scientists would be a challenging task for any corporate library. For Cooke's staff, the challenges have become even more complex because the information center is no longer a traditional library. In fact-although there hasn't been a literal explosion-the center's organizational structure has been wiped out.

"As with other companies. over the past few years. there have been growing pressures within Shell for services to improve cost effectiveness," Cooke said, "so to survive and thrive, you need to demonstrate commercial viability. The route I've chosen for this is to set up [the center] within Shell as a standalone, self-funding business. That's been achieved. We've survived, but now we have to thrive."

His strategy for success involves marketing the information center's services to customers outside of Shell. The freedom to do so is one of the primary advantages of working as a standalone unit. One of the disadvantages is that the laboratory's researchers are no longer required to use Cooke's staff; the scientists can hire any outside information firm.

To retain old clients and attract new ones, Cooke has developed a cutting-edge approach to information services-one built on the idea of a "knowledge factory." That's how Cooke describes the research laboratory because it creates and repackages information that is sold by Shell operating units worldwide. "In effect," he said, "Shell Research is a knowledge factory where both the raw materials and end-products are information."

The appellation applies equally well to the information center because it now offers not only traditional information access and retrieval, but also data production, information management, and even marketing services.

CRADLE-TO-GRAVE INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

Cooke, who has a background as a research scientist and experience in IT, came to Thornton about four years ago. As recently as 1997, the library sat within a traditional organisational structure. "We were an entirely local, in-house information center," Cooke said, "with all costs simply recovered through overheads which bore no relation to actual use or real market prices."

During 1998, Shell began to turn the Thornton facility into a commercial science and technology park with both Shell and third-party companies paying the going rate for services. …

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.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
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.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Cutting-Edge Library at Shell Research
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

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.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

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.