Magazine article Special Libraries

The President's Task Force on the Value of the Information Professional

Magazine article Special Libraries

The President's Task Force on the Value of the Information Professional

Article excerpt

The President's Task Force on the Value of the Information Professional

An Update

The report of the President's Task Force on the Value of the Informational professional, published in June 1987 by SLA, was so popular that it is now out-of-print and can no longer be ordered from SLA headquarters. However, SLA has made it available through ERIC. The ERIC citation is:

President's Task Force on the Value of the Information Professional. Preliminary Study. Final Report. Matarazzo, James M. and others. Special Libraries Association, Washington, D.C. 10 June 1987. 53 p.; Report presented at the Annual Conference of the Special Libraries Association (78th, Anaheim, CA, June 10, 1987). Identifying Numbers: ED287486; IR052163.

Order the report from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS) in paper for $6 or in microfiche for $0.85 (prices are for mail orders). Address is: EDRS, 3900 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria VA 22304. Telephone (800) 227-3742 or (703) 823-0500 (in VA). Or use DIALORDER or other E-Mail document services.

The complete report is also included as Appendix B in From the Top: Profiles of U.S. and Canadian Corporate Libraries and Information Centers, (Special Libraries Association, 1989. $25).

Jim Matarazzo has received word that the Task Force report has been translated into Italian. Russian and German translations are in progress. When Frank Spaulding referred to the report in a speech to the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), several people approached him, and ultimately SLA, for permission to translate and publish it. The Italian version, translated by GAbriella Magini of the Instituto Per La Recostruzione Industriale in Rome, will appear in the March 1990 issue of Il Bibliotecario, a quarterly review of library science.

Below are the highlights and concluding section of the report. We urge you to order and read the entire report.

Highlights of Findings

The information professional must be prepared to prove the value of his or her services to the corporation. The Task Force studied three possible approaches:

* Measuring time saved

* Determining actual monetary savings/gains

* Providing qualitative, anectodal evidence of value

The Task Force uncovered clear and compelling evidence of the value of the information professional to business:

* Georgia Tech's online information system saves $1.2 million in faculty time. King studies show how the use of information professionals results in time savings in government and industry.

* Texas Instruments' Houston Library is a widely-used corporate resource that frees up scientist and researcher time. Its return on investment is estimated to be 515 percent.

* Top corporate executives testify to the worth of the information professional. According to an AMOCO executive, information professionals help the company "make better decisions...and avoid costly mistakes."

* Real-life examples prove quantitative worth of the information professional--for example, an $11 database search saves a company 200 hours of lab work.

Further research, building on the Task Force's foundation, is required to design and document systems for measuring value.

Conclusion: Closing the Service Gap

Today's corporate information center is operating in an extremely competitive environment. It is competing with a wide variety of other services and production centers for a share of corporate resources in the form of operating budgets, staff, and decision making power. These resources are generally allocated by corporate management according to the contribution a particular service center or production department makes toward maintaining or increasing the level of available resources.

It is relatively easy for a sales or production department to demonstrate its contribution to the corporate "bottom line" in terms of units produced or sold. …

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