Magazine article Online

The New Normal for Online Research

Magazine article Online

The New Normal for Online Research

Article excerpt

Reading and hearing people talk about the era of "new normal" that we're entering makes me wonder what it means for online research. When I first encountered the phrase, I thought it a euphemism for drastic cuts in library and information services, possibly even their elimination. Government actions, particularly in the U.K., with its suggestions that libraries be staffed by volunteers or closed completely, did nothing to dispel my assumptions.

However, upon investigation, I've concluded that the new normal isn't just about austere budgets or the old chestnut of "doing more with less"--it's also about new technologies. The new normal is having library patrons, users, customers, and clients who know as much (or more) about technology than information professionals, who may be constrained by their employers' policies regarding downloading programs, upgrading existing software, and acquiring the latest gadgets. The new normal is about partnerships and transparency, new ways to develop and disseminate knowledge, the increasing importance of communication skills, and opening up access to information, data, and knowledge.

The new normal is a time to rethink and revitalize our libraries, information departments, and organizations. Enterprises that are reliant upon government funding will need to find some type of alternative funding. Within profit-making institutions, proving the value of our services will become more critical. The very nature of data is changing--information professionals need to be on top not only of where the data is but also of how to manipulate data effectively to create new knowledge.

Information professionals are amazingly proficient at revolutionizing their work environments, at understanding and using new technologies, at bringing creative thinking to problem solving, at creating order out of chaos, and at demonstrating their value. …

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