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Professional Standards

The selected information below was taken from the Special Libraries Association's (SLA) Competencies for Information Professionals (URL: http://www.sla.org/content/learn/comp2003/).

What is an Information Professional?

An Information Professional ("IP") strategically uses information in his/her job to advance the mission of the organization. The IP accomplishes this through the development, deployment, and management of information resources and services. The IP harnesses technology as a critical tool to accomplish goals. IPs include, but are not limited to librarians, knowledge managers, chief information officers, web developers, information brokers, and consultants. 

Core Competencies

Core competencies anchor the professional and personal competencies. These two core competencies are absolutely essential for every information professional. As educated professionals, IPs understand the value of developing and sharing their knowledge; this is accomplished through association networks and by conducting and sharing research at conferences, in publications and in collaborative arrangements of all kinds. IPs also acknowledge and adhere to the ethics of the profession. The importance of these two cardinal core competencies cannot be emphasized enough; these are paramount to the value and viability of the profession.

I. Information professionals contribute to the knowledge base of the profession by sharing best practices and experiences, and continue to learn about information products, services, and management practices throughout the life of his/her career.

II. Information professionals commit to professional excellence and ethics, and to the values and principles of the profession.

Professional Competencies

Professional competencies relate to the practitioner's knowledge of information resources, access, technology and management, and the ability to use this knowledge as a basis for providing the highest quality information services. There are four major competencies, each augmented with specific skills:

A. Managing Information Organizations

A.1 Aligns the information organization with, and is supportive of, the strategic directions of the parent organization or of key client groups through partnerships with key stakeholders and suppliers.

A.4 Contributes effectively to senior management strategies and decisions regarding information applications, tools and technologies, and policies for the organization.

A.7 Gathers the best available evidence to support decisions about the development of new service and products, the modification of current services or the elimination of services to continually improve the array of information services offered.

B. Managing Information Resources

B.2 Builds a dynamic collection of information resources based on a deep understanding of clients' information needs and their learning, work and/or business processes.

B.3 Demonstrates expert knowledge of the content and format of information resources, including the ability to critically evaluate, select and filter them.

C. Managing Information Services

C.3 Researches, analyzes and synthesizes information into accurate answers or actionable information for clients, and ensures that clients have the tools or capabilities to immediately apply these.

C.4 Develops and applies appropriate metrics to continually measure the quality and value of information offerings, and to take appropriate action to ensure each offering's relevancy within the portfolio.

D. Applying Information Tools and Technologies

D.1 Assesses, selects and applies current and emerging information tools and creates information access and delivery solutions.

D.4 Maintains current awareness of emerging technologies that may not be currently relevant but may become relevant tools of future information resources, services or applications.

Personal Competencies

Personal competencies represent a set of attitudes, skills and values that enable practitioners to work effectively and contribute positively to their organizations, clients and profession. These competencies range from being strong communicators, to demonstrating the value-add of their contributions, to remaining flexible and positive in an ever-changing environment.

  • Seeks out challenges and capitalizes on new opportunities
  • Sees the big picture
  • Communicates effectively
  • Presents ideas clearly; negotiates confidently and persuasively
  • Creates partnerships and alliances
  • Builds an environment of mutual respect and trust; respects and values diversity
  • Employs a team approach; recognizes the balance of collaborating, leading and following
  • Takes calculated risks; shows courage and tenacity when faced with opposition
  • Plans, prioritises and focuses on what is critical
  • Demonstrates personal career planning
  • Thinks creatively and innovatively; seeks new or "reinventing" opportunities
  • Recognizes the value of professional networking and personal career planning
  • Balances work, family and community obligations
  • Remains flexible and positive in a time of continuing change
  • Celebrates achievements for self and others