bird of maps

competency I

use service concepts, principles and techniques that facilitate information access, relevance, and accuracy for individuals or groups of users


Introduction

Any organization that provides information will serve a defined user group. A declaration of the specific group may have its roots in the organization's mission or may evolve from an observational assessment of which people are using the information services the most. It is the duty of the information professional to be acquainted with their group of information consumers so that services can be provided to correspond with their informational needs. Specific information services that rely heavily on the information needs of the intended users include building a collection of relevant information resources and organizing that collection for easy retrieval and access.

Evaluating the needs of different user groups can be approached in many ways, such as through the use of surveys, analysis of usage statistics, observation, and simple conversation. Once familiar with the needs of the user group, collections of relevant and accurate information resources can be maintained. Different user groups will have different information needs: children visiting the public library, for instance, will need different types of information than attorneys visiting their firm's private library, and items in the collection should be appropriately matched to the collection's audience.

The relevance of collection resources is, of course, measured largely by the informational content, but the media format in which the information is presented can also be considered when making judgements about relevance. Analog materials might not be a good investment when the collection's resources are accessed digitally. In addition to relevancy, accuracy of the informational materials must be considered. Accuracy can be measured by the reliability of the information's source or publisher, and by timeliness, since materials are susceptible to becoming inaccurate as research and technology progress in various fields.

When traditional library categorization schemes and Subject Headings are not employed, it will be important to create access points for information discovery that are logical to the users. This can be reflected in the physical layout of the resources, and also in searchable electronic catalogs and databases. When creating a searchable catalog, different metadata schemas may be more valuable to some groups of users than to others. Metadata should be created so that it caters to the perspective that its users will have when attempting to access the collection. This will ensure greater success in information discovery.

Evidence

To illustrate my competency in facilitating information access to a collection of resources relevant to a defined user group, I am submitting a representation of my professional experience while employed by Pixar Animation Studios. My role was to create a navigable physical library composed of books that had been used during film production and that had also been newly purchased for this project. I investigated the company culture and terminology to best decide how to create records for them in a searchable LibraryThing.com database. It was necessary to implement a customized scheme for these users since the purpose of the library was to directly serve the company. A record for a pictorial work on coral reefs, for instance, would be more useful to these library users if its metadata included a reference to the film Finding Nemo. The image submitted is a snapshot of some of the metadata I created.

In contrast to making information resources accessible digitally, how to make them physically accessible also depends on the needs of a given user group. To further support my competency in facilitating information access to a defined user group, I am submitting a group project completed in my Information Organizations and Management course. In this project, we examined differences in organizing biographies in children's collection, under the context of improving access to biographies in a hypothetical elementary school library that uses the Dewey Decimal System. I was responsible for interviewing two professional children's librarians who posed different opinions. My group ultimately decided that creating a separate section explicitly for biographies would be the most advantageous option for the children using the library.

To demonstrate my ability to curate accurate and relevant resources for a designated group of library users, I am submitting a collection development report that I completed in the course Resources for Children Ages 6-12. In this project, I selected nine books and one computer game in the American historical fiction genre to add to a theoretical children's collection. I identified the necessary criteria and used literature reviews, librarian recommendations, and personal examinations to select the books to be added. Included in my selection criteria was historical accuracy in terms of setting, social environment, and events. Since this collection is for children, and part of its purpose is to encourage reading, another important criteria was that the characters were relatable.

Conclusion

The services which ensure access to relevant and accurate information resources are quintessential to information professionals. Inherent to providing these services is understanding the designated users of the information resources and applying their needs to the design of the collection and its access points. I believe that this is perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of information science and I have show my competency in these skills with the evidence provided above. I expect that my understanding of this competency will guide my professional activities in a significant manner because at its base is the concept of putting people in touch with the information that they are looking for.