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New (Old) Skills – Listening, Analysis and Planning

January 12th, 2010 · No Comments


I spent the last week writing and editing a book chapter on process management for digitization. My head has been trying to process all that I contemplated while doing such an intensive session.

I think that a lot of process management comes down to skills that we often no longer practice. These oldies but goodies are classics that we need some reminding about. The most important is…LISTENING.

We Twitter, we Facebook and we Blog but we are not necessarily listening to each other. Engaging colleagues in the process of digitization or any other information management process makes a huge difference in creating efficiency. More brains are always better than one!

The next skill is one that many of us are skilled at but do not have time for: analysis.

There was a great quote that I read ages ago “If you want to live forever, write something worth reading.” That has stuck in my head and inspired me to continue to write personally. The reason that quote is so powerful is because of its qualification “worth reading.”

How much of the information explosion is worth reading?

One aspect of self-publishing that is great is that anyone can post any wonderful idea for all to see, but it is also the great disadvantage. Who has time to qualify all that is out there? Librarians would love to direct patrons to well-researched blogs, but who has the time to research their accuracy? We fall back to well-known publishers, many of whom have had their own authenticity problems.

We have sites where Librarians assess other sites and compile them so that we can be assured that we have access to high quality tools. In my latest nights, I wonder…how much checking can we really do to ascertain quality? In this world of self-promotion and personal status sites, are we really examining the information? Are we slowing down enough to get this?

Lastly, is the skill of planning.

Many times librarians and archivists (particularly of the solo version) spend so much time feeling overwhelmed that we only react instead of proactively changing our state. After reading hundreds of interviews that my students have done with leaders in the field I see one common thread between success and failure…planning. So that goes back to being proactive, taking a breath and listening to what it is your users and your collection needs.

Listening to the content and the users means that you have a better plan. Maybe it is a stolen hour a week to consider this and shut out the information noise, disseminate the good research and plan how to get where you need to be. Ignoring for just an hour the budget pressures, lack of staff skills, and bureaucratic realities allows you to envision where you can be and as many great business leaders espouse, visualizing your success plays a big part in getting to it.

So in the words of the great Frasier Crane, “I’m listening.”

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Category: Skills with a Capital I and T