Jinfo BlogAre you a living index?

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By Janice R. Lachance

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Are you a 'living index'? John Cotton Dana, who founded the Special Libraries Association (SLA) a century ago, used that term to describe the people we now call information professionals. Dana, an information visionary, spotted the next new thing: librarians collaborating to locate and deliver specialized knowledge to a new breed of entrepreneurial leaders in business, government and the nonprofit and academic worlds. The 'practical' (his word) information these leaders required might be in the books stacked within libraries, but it might also be found in less conventional places - pamphlets, newsletters, magazines, you name it. He founded SLA so that information professionals could learn new skills and share information - so that each might become a living index to the body of knowledge most useful to his or her enterprise. A hundred years later, our skills have moved far beyond anything Dana might have imagined, but his vision remains remarkably fresh. Serving as a living index in a digital world still involves an unending search for the most effective ways to bring together the most relevant knowledge - knowledge that enables our organizations to move forward with eyes wide open to the opportunities and challenges inherent in today’s global economy. To enable their organizations to thrive in the global marketplace, today’s info pros need the skills, tools, and techniques to harness global content that expands exponentially by the second. New colours are added to the information palette constantly, from user-generated content to search mechanisms capturing the spoken word. As quickly as information grows, the lag time allowed between its creating and its application shrinks. That means the info pro must set up proactive mechanisms to gather, authenticate and analyze information with the speed of light. You need practical advice, and this issue of VIP has it. Will SharePoint help your organization? Marc Stephenson and Alan Pelz-Sharpe review different aspects of the popular information management system in this issue. Joanna Ptolomey reviews Nexis Direct, and new ways to tap into LexisNexis content. Finally, SLA member Jonathan Gordon-Till gives us a look at BBC Monitoring’s new e-mail service. Editor's note: Janice R. Lachance served as guest editor for VIP No. 64, published in March 2009. Janice is the chief executive of SLA http://www.sla.org/ and is a seasoned leader and communicator with more than 20 years experience in public service and governance. SLA is celebrating its centennial during its annual conference in Washington, D.C., 14-17 June 2009. RSVP your plans to attend: http://www.freepint.com/events/sla-2009/ Read more about this issue of VIP Magazine and purchase it here: http://web.vivavip.com/go/vip/

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