Competences

As an information professional with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in Washington, D.C. I provide analysis and make recommendations for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the FTA. The competences I developed in the University of Tennessee’s Information Sciences Program have enhanced my ability to retrieve, analyze, and disseminate information crucial for decision-making on many important and complex national issues. Combined with my background in public policy, the artifacts presented in this ePortfolio demonstrate my understanding of the following information science competences: Information ManagementSWOT AnalysisUser InstructionUsage Analysis, and User Testing.

Information Management – Information management competence covers a broad spectrum for the information professional: records management, collections management, and library management. In other library contexts, the information management competence is defined more narrowly. It may or may not include the ordinary operations of libraries and special information environments: budgeting, human resources, strategic planning, etc. Moreover, “…it may be considered from a variety of perspectives, emphasizing information resources, technologies, organizational structures, and others” (Bawden & Robinson, 2012, p. 251). For example, information management within the FTA includes managing the policy and procedures of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Under FOIA federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement. Information management also entails “…the concepts behind, and methods for, developing partnerships, collaborations, networks, and other structures with all stakeholders and within communities served” (www.ala.org/corecompetences). The knowledge management whitepaper modern history of urban mass transportation project, and the website redesign project demonstrate my experience applying this competence in a high stakes, real world information environment: the United States Government.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) – The SWOT analysis is included in the initial stage in the km/strategic planning process that evaluates the internal and external issues surrounding the organization. “The SWOT analysis and environmental scan are important steps in [km]/strategic planning, as they help the organization to take stock of the internal and external situation and make informed decisions about how to move forward” (Saunders, 2015, p. 286). Regarding SWOT analysis, (Fogg, 1994) lists the following:

1) External Assessment (opportunities and threats): (a) Markets/customers; (b) Sociodemographics; (c) Competition; (d) Technology; (e) Economy; (f) Government/political; and (g) Factors of production.

2) Internal Assessment (strengths and weaknesses) Organizational Dimensions: (a) Culture; (b) Organization structure; (c) Systems; (d) Human Capital; (e) Management practices. Other Key Organizational Dimensions: (a) Cost-efficiency; (b) Financial structure performance; (c) Quality; (d) Service; (e) Technology; (f) Market segments/performance; (g) Innovation/new products; and (h) Asset condition/productivity (p. 6).

SWOT analysis is an important competence for the information professional involved in km/strategic planning in libraries or special information environments. I reveal in the km whitepaper my understanding of the importance of km and strategic planning taking place in tandem. Moreover, I display my competences in SWOT analysis and strategic planning/km implementation.

User Instruction – Often referred to as information literacy, user instruction is focused upon ensuring the user accesses references most appropriate for their research topic or inquiry. “The basic component of [user instruction] includes demonstrating how, when, and why to use various reference sources in an integrated way that will capture the user’s attention at the teachable moment” (Cassell and Hiremath, 2013, p. 8). The artifact social sciences question set exemplifies my competences to provide excellent information retrieval services to users seeking information in the humanities and social sciences. Within the context of government organizations, the users are more complex and the information needs may take on political ramifications. “The primary function of government libraries is to serve government at different levels by making available all kinds of information published by government and non-government bodies and individuals. Their clientele are elected representatives, ministers, administrators, scientists, other specialists, researchers; and in some cases, the general public” (Bihana, 2008, p. 7). Moreover, because of the sensitive nature of the information managed by government agencies, and the varied and complex players they serve, the information in these organizations can be classified as “dynamic.”

Usage AnalysisInformation professionals conduct usage analysis by collecting data and conducting research to ensure usability of website design. For instance, the researcher can “trace the users path as they move through a website (known as clickstream) or where people come from (the originating site), or where they go next (destination site)” (Rosenfeld, Morville, and Arango, 2015, p. 335).  Moreover, subsequent to the research process, the researcher must consider the website’s audience. In the website redesign project, I display this competence by determining which website visitors to include in the analysis. The visitors are: young readers and their parents/guardians, other writers of young adult literature, and adult readers. Our usage analysis of the existing Suzanne Collins’ website exemplifies my competence to identify multiple types of data collection techniques to determine where the project team needed to alter, add, eliminate, or redesign the site.

User TestingUser testing is employed to determine the extent to which users can easily navigate a website and how well they interact with the site. “User testing goes by many names, including usability engineering, and information needs analysis. “In basic user testing, a user is asked to sit in front of a device and find information or complete a task using the product [the researcher is studying]”(Rosenfeld, Morville, and Arango, 2015, p. 348). During the website redesign project there were several problems the project team encountered in assessing the current website of author Suzanne Collins: there was limited content and biographical information, users were unable to interact with the site, and the site didn’t allow users the ability to purchase items. Through user testing, I prove my competence by assisting with establishing testing objectives, developing usability tests, and evaluating usability testing data.

References

Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2012). Introduction to information science. Chicago, IL: Neal-Schuman.

Bihana, S. K. (2008). International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). IFLA Professional Reports, 106.

Cassell, K. A., & Hiremath, U. (2013). References and Information Services: An Introduction, third edition. Chicago, IL: Neal-Schuman.

Fogg, C.D. (1994). Team-Based Strategic Planning: A Complete Guide to Structuring and Implementing the Process. New York, NY: American Management Association.

Rosenfeld, L., Morville, P., & Arango, J. (2015). Information Architecture: For the Web and Beyond, fourth edition. (A. Rufino, Ed.) Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Saunders, L. “Academic Libraries’ Strategic Plans: Top Trends and Under-Recognized Areas.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 41.3 (2015): 285-91. Print.