The simple truth is, there are serious challenges to the long-term sustainability of special libraries, most of which can be turned into opportunities if you develop a strategy for continuous improvement and are proactive.
These challenges include the need to:
- Stay relevant by leveraging and managing social tools
- Reach an increasingly mobile user base
- Integrate your library’s knowledge with an increasingly complex IT environment
- Do more in an environment of ever-shrinking budgets
- Avoid being made redundant by content providers who reach out to end users directly
In addition, competition from external search engines (i.e. Google) cannot be ignored –you know that Google is a search engine not a lie detector, but do your end users understand the critical importance of curation by librarians and knowledge experts, resulting in vetted, truthful content that is relevant and current? In the face of all these challenges you need a full range of information management tools designed to meet the requirements of special librarians, and a strategy that focuses on building (and continuously improving) the sustainable library. You want not only to survive, but to adapt, act and thrive!
Lucidea’s client service mission and our product development strategy rest on six principles which we believe are also integral to special librarianship’s ongoing value and viability. These six principles are:
- Access—knowledge that informs action should be easily accessible
- Discovery—the discovery of information should effectively accommodate user preferences
- Independence—self-sufficiency increases efficiency and productivity, and reduces costs
- Integration with your existing systems and applications is critical
- Partnership with vendors should be based on a mutual interest in success
- Security—you must manage access to your organization’s most important information assets
In our work with clients, we see many examples of the ways in which visionary information professionals are pressing the reset button and making their departments and functions more relevant—now and into the future.
Special librarians and knowledge managers can achieve sustainability and thrive by employing solutions and practices built on these six principles.
Often, a special library makes a first impression through its web presence; keep the user experience (UX) at the front of all website decisions
Nontraditional skills for special librarians include marketing and visibility building; these are critical in a virtual library environment
Special librarians can work with a user experience (UX) designer to create virtual online spaces (intranets, websites) that are intuitive for users
Offering experience-based learning is an important way for special librarians to facilitate deeper engagement with resources.