Informationist Web Discussion
MLA hosted a real-time Web discussion about the informationist
concept on Thursday, May 9, 2002, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Central
Time. Informationist Task Force Chair Jean Shipman moderated the discussion.
Informationist Conference keynote speakers Frank Davidoff, M.D., and Valerie
Florance, Ph.D., guided the session and answered questions.
The following background information may be useful prior
to reading the transcript of the session:
- Keynote slides, Frank Davidoff, M.D. (download
- Keynote slides, Valerie Florance, M.A., M.L.S.,
- Conference summary, (download
Other materials are also available: a bibliography
of informationist materials, and a full list of speaker
presentations from the invitational conference.
Topics for the Session
Drs. Davidoff and Florance proposed the following topics
for the online discussion:
|The MIT management guru Peter Senge
makes the distinction between an "invention" (an important
new idea or discovery) and a true "innovation." Senge suggests
that "An invention becomes an innovation only when it can be
replicated reliably on a meaningful scale at practical costs."
As an example, he points out that it took 5 major additional technical
advances, and 30 years, before the Wright brothers' invention became
the innovation of commercial aviation.
From this point of view, clinical librarianship is an invention, while
the informationist profession would be an innovation.
D1) What refinements or further developments of the informationist
concept do you think would be needed before it would become a true
innovation, in Senge's sense?
D2) From your general experience or, more
specifically, experience in a clinical librarian role, what would
be the most important contributions an informationist could make in
clinical services? In biomedical research?
D3) What areas other than clinical care and research would
benefit from informationist participation?
D4) What have been (or do you think would be) the greatest
barriers to the development of informationist careers and services?
What have been (or are
likely to be) the factors most likely to contribute to successful
development of an informationist profession?
|An informationist is a cross-trained
(information sciences + relevant disciplinary background) information
specialist who works in context, as a member of a team in health care,
research and education settings. The informationist's role in the
team is to select, organize, integrate and present information drawn
from diverse resources. The informationist also uses her/his experience
to identify new research areas and to improve systems and services.
My questions are:
F1) WHO: are there people in your organization now who perform
this role? If so, who are they and what do they do?
F2) WHAT: if you perform this role, what are the skills &
knowledge you find most important to doing it well?
F3) WHERE: in what kinds of setting is an informationist most
likely to flourish? Are there settings where it would not be feasible
Visit the (slightly) edited transcript
of the session (participant notes were edited for spelling).