It is a recursive idea that people who sort knowledge and information and make it available for other people need knowledge and information themselves. Not only that, but in order to access it quickly and easily, they require someone to sort it and make it available for them saving their time.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, and sometimes people don’t, what I mean is that librarians, library staff and information professionals spend their working time ensuring that other people can access the information that they need. However, they also need support, they need some professional evidence to develop their own knowledge, skills, interests and improve the services that they give to other people.
The Charted Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) is aware of that need and they have been giving support and training opportunities since 1877 as the Library Association and 1958 as the Institute of Information Scientists. These bodies merged in 2002. CILIP believes that it should be an “authoritative source of data and evidence about information management and libraries” and “an active partner in providing a research and evidence framework for the sector as a whole”. Therefore it commissioned us at Evidence Base in partnership with Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University to look at the possibility of a portal of information about information, knowledge about knowledge: a place where information professionals can go to get find authoritative evidence to back up practises, procedures and new developments. CILIP also asked if we could make some suggestions of how such an enterprise could be sustainably funded.
Together we examined the online resources that exist for other organisations. The American Library Association’s LARK is a good example. We looked at things that could be of use to information professionals of all fields and had a sneaky peak at what other professional associations were providing. More than that, we actually asked people what they wanted, what would really be useful for them. And the answers were:
Open access search engines and repositories
A variety of entry points to evidence e.g. sector, use and topic
Sharing options e.g. Twitter
Summaries or structured abstracts of key papers and reports
Sector specific resource
Indicators of rigour
Links to other CILIP resources
They also suggested some Additional Features:
Ability to export references
Briefing documents for different stakeholders
We suggested that the best method of funding such an undertaking would be by a collaborative approach, with funding gathered from a variety of organisations.
We are delighted that CILIP and now considering what can be done to achieve this important resource for librarians, library staff and information professionals. The full report is on the CILIP website.