Chris Wall
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  Information science
 

Contents
What is information science?
What kind of person makes a good information scientist?

Core skills for information science

Professional links
Professional associations
Useful tools and sources

Swift, graceful ...
... and ever vigilant !

What is this strange profession to which I belong? 
My job titles over the years have been many and varied (Information Project Officer, Librarian & Information Officer, Records management consultant, Information consultant, Knowledge specialist), but behind these titles lie a core set of professional skills.

What is information science?

"A man though wise, should never be afraid of learning more." Sophocles

Information scientists are at work in (probably) every industry sector and are a professionally-trained breed of "knowledge worker".

Information science, for those unfamiliar with the phrase, is the science of capturing, storing, retrieving and disseminating information. As a discipline it is a close-cousin of librarianship, and indeed information scientists do end up as "Special librarians". In recent years in business environments a closely aligned discipline of knowledge management has emerged. Many of the skills necessary to librarianship, information science and knowledge management are common to all three.

To an extent knowledge management is not a new discipline, just a new, "acceptable-to-business", name for a particular brand of information science or librarianship. Where the approaches of information science or knowledge management differ from librarianship is in the treatment of information. On the whole, librarians tend deal with information at the book or journal level, whereas information scientists and knowledge managers deal with facts and figures drawn from any available information source.

A definition I have read discriminates between information and knowledge as follows:

Information exists outside the mind in books and other media, whereas knowledge only exists in one's mind. Information is converted to and from knowledge as it is transferred from one person's mind to another's.

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What kind of person makes a good information scientist?

They tend to absorb information and sources of information with a great thirst. They network well, can pull facts together clearly, succinctly and often at amazing speed from a wide variety of sources.

They understand the truth behind "rubbish-in, rubbish-out" (or sometimes rubbish-in, nothing out) when applied to information systems and databases.

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Core skills for information science (http://www.iis.org.uk/membership/Criteria.html)

Among other things, these include / cover:

  • Thesaurus and classification design and building

  • Database design and implementation

  • Information sources and retrieval

  • Manual and online searching

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