Tuesday, 26 October 2010

All Facts Considered

In an age when fact-checking often goes little further than a quick glance at Wikipedia (good resource that it is though), it's heartening to hear about a book that is not only full of facts, but is written by a professional whose job it is to ensure they are all correct. All Facts Considered: The Essential Library of Inessential Knowledge is a compendium of information about history, science and the arts written by Kee Malesky, librarian at NPR (National Public Radio).

See here for an article about the book. This includes excerpts plus a few of Kee's favourite questions such as:
- The first e-book was the Declaration of Independence, typed into a computer in 1971 by the founder of Project Gutenberg.
- Red hair, the rarest human color (less than 2 percent of the population), is caused by a variation in what is called the "Celtic" gene.

All sounds fascinating and I'm about to order a copy for the Guardian library (where we double check everything). Wonder if it's going to be made available online...

Friday, 1 October 2010

Information hygiene

Twenty-first century Info Pros: Changing roles and skills in knowledge and information, was the rather ominous title for LIKE 18 (London Information and Knowledge Exchange). Over 40 people packed into an upstairs room at the Crown Tavern, Clerkenwell, to hear Luisa Jefford, TFPL's Director of Public Sector Recruitment, pass on her some of her inside knowledge.

After talking about the current jobs market, including the fact that many vacancies attract applicants from all around the world, Luisa divided the room into smaller groups to discuss the skills that are essential for the modern information professional.

Not surprisingly, everything from being able to budget, organise and present, as well as core information skills made it onto the list. One attribute though that made a (very) brief appearance in my group was the art of blagging.

Now, obviously, blagging is not something that's going to appear on the average information professional's CV - the Collins dictionary definition of 'obtain by wheedling or cadging' is enough to put paid to that. However, a wider definition of presenting a confident front even when uncertain about something is surely a skill worth having. Random examples of this can be seen here and, with the line 'a blagger persuades. They do not coerce,' here.

Luisa concluded her talk by stressing that you should be fully aware of all of your transferable skills. These are are as valid as formal qualifiactions on a CV, especially when backed up with evidence and examples.

Once the formal part of the evening had finished, the conversation began. Exchanging ideas and knowledge over dinner is one of LIKE's strengths. In the 'fish and chips corner', discussion ranged over everything from issues raised in Luisa's talk, Wikipedia (again) to Ed Miliband's marital status. At one point the phrase 'information hygiene' was introduced into the conversation, the context being something to do with making sure users don't download unsuitable or 'toxic' material.

Naturally I wanted to know more. A quick search on the Cilip website directed me to 'Top tips on sensitive issues - personal hygiene'. Very important, but not quite what I was looking for. The definition of 'managing your personal information' from this site seems more like it. Perhaps a future meeting idea for LIKE?

Thanks again to Virginia, Jennifer, Marja, et al for organising such a great evening. More information about changes in the information management jobs market can found on the TFPL reports section.