The Human Nature of Information Work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ABSTRACT: Column Editor’s Note Though special libraries share concerns with their more general academic, public, and school counterparts, they also have unique characteristics which merit separate consideration. Libraries of all types are evolving, and just as special libraries can learn from the general literature on libraries, practitioners in general libraries can learn from the experiences and methods of special libraries. “The Specialist,” appearing in even-numbered issues of this journal, addresses the administrative concerns of special libraries. The column's scope includes corporate, non-profit, government, and independent libraries as well as the specialized departments and branches of academic and public libraries. Contributions from practitioners and scholars on any aspect of special libraries are welcome. Interested authors are invited to contact the editor at for submission guidelines. In library and information science, there is a strong emphasis on technical skills like indexing, database design, and information retrieval. This column shows the importance of interpersonal skills, which reference librarians have traditionally employed, to the current special library environment. Librarians increasingly recognize that people seek information and knowledge from each other just as much if not more so than from databases and documents. Given appropriate mechanisms, experts readily share their knowledge. Decision makers seek information selected and curated by a knowledgeable human being, not just raw data. At the same time, successful organizations recognize that the most important part of information management is not the library but the librarian, who can employ information strategically. The special library community should worry less about library closures and more about ensuring that librarians understand the work of their clients and deliver relevant information at the appropriate time with context and interpretation, making them an integral part of organizational decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-328
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Library Administration
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 19 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Administration
  • Library and Information Sciences


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