August 18, 2010

Works in Progress

Two years ago I wondered "aloud" whether this position was really an "embedded librarian" position, and that is still up for debate. However, one of the characteristics of embedded librarianship that Shumaker and Talley (huge final report here; summary here) note is "providing specialized information services." If I judge my current position exclusively on that criterion then I am unequivocally embedded, at least as evidenced by my two current projects described below.

Thing 1:
For one of the teams I am "embedded" with I am drafting a training on "information overload," which I am modeling around Clay Shirky's idea that, "It's not information overload; it's filter failure." I am having a lot of fun with it. This was requested for a set of part-time independent contractors who work on our behalf in the field and receive tons of electronic information from our staff, in addition to memoranda from the project director.

(Click images to enlarge.)

I was asked to craft this presentation with the goal of explaining all our electronic messaging and how these contractors can strategically use it to help and not hinder their work. I am focusing the presentation around the topics of "Filtering" and "Filters," explaining the general approach and then the tools. I want to build on the idea that we are all already using some filters whether we know it or not, but the filters sometimes have to be adjusted for the specific types of information in our intake, that being the information I am to be the "specialist" on.

Thing 2: For another team I am "embedded" with, I am helping them draft what I am calling an "Overall Information Strategy" as part of a website relaunch and renewed marketing plan. It's not supposed to be a communications plan so much as a prerequisite for a communications plan--first documenting all the information sources and then outlining the appropriate outreach that matches each (and by "outreach" I mean to include internal staff communication).

To do this, I am first documenting the OIS for the team in Thing 1 (my primary project), and it has been just as much fun as the Information Overload presentation. These are both going to be tools I reuse and refine again and again.To start the OIS document, I just made a matrix showing all the types of information that come in on one axis, and all the possible actions and dissemination outlets on the other axis. And yes, there is strategic overlap: creating a new web page could be either the cause or the result of one of the other actions, and a new publication, if it's ours, would probably have dots filled in across the board.

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