Magazine article Information Outlook

Making Sense of It All: Special Librarians Are at the Intersection of the Exchange between (Growing Amounts of) Information and People, and Only by Continuing to Learn Can We Effectively Mediate That Transfer

Magazine article Information Outlook

Making Sense of It All: Special Librarians Are at the Intersection of the Exchange between (Growing Amounts of) Information and People, and Only by Continuing to Learn Can We Effectively Mediate That Transfer

Article excerpt

Lifelong learning is a concept that echoes in the hearts of all that find harbor in the tapestry of SLA membership. We excel at it (as individuals and as an organization) and we create value by enabling others to practice it. In fact, speaking of lifelong learning and of the Special Libraries Association in the same sentence is an overload of concepts.

Let's try to count the ways that SLA and information professionals encourage lifelong learning:

* SLA members practice, and have always practiced, lifelong learning. Many of us became librarians through a continuous learning effort.

The plethora of positions in which we find ourselves today--many of which have nothing to do with libraries--are, in fact, conclusive evidence that we, as SLA members, practice lifelong learning.

* Many times, SLA members hold positions where we are required to keep a close eye on the evolving needs and interests of our patrons in order to better serve them. This contributes to our continued learning and gives us a window into the learning activities of the communities we are monitoring.

* SLA as an organization has an active role as a facilitator of the lifelong learning of its members. SLA continually assesses the information ecosystem in which its members operate by conducting periodic environmental scans (the Alignment Project is just the most recent one). It uses the information it collects to help develop the learning opportunities (both formal and informal) it presents at every conference and through Click University.

* SLA members are at the forefront of the exchange between information and people, which leads to knowledge and which constitutes the basic premise of learning.

* SLA members are increasingly involved with the efforts of organizations to manage their knowledge base by actively pursuing and capturing past experiences and incorporating the knowledge gathered into actions and decisions. This activity, which harvests the knowledge of each individual and recycles it throughout the organization and its members, is integral to the development of what we call "learning organizations. …

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