How information professionals match up to information policy development.
The information and knowledge society calls for skills in information policy analysis, design, implementation and evaluation. Librarians, Records Managers and Archivists as well as often information professionals need to be well versed in information policy analysis, design, implementation and evaluation to enable them to contribute effectively in information policy processes. In this paper the author is going to discuss how information professionals match up to information policy development.
Definition of terms
According to Mutongi K. (2012:4) Policy is a set of principles guiding decision making. It provides a framework against which proposals or activities can be tested and progress measured. Stueart and Moran (1994:42) asserts that, ideally, a policy contains a definition of the problem being addressed, a statement of goals (the desired state of affairs), and at least the broad outline of the instruments (approaches and activities) by which the goals are to be achieved. In actual practice, policy making is part of decision making. Policies, while they are usually expressed in positive terms, are essentially limiting in nature since they dictate courses of action and are aimed at preventing deviation from that norm. The School of Information and Library Science, University of Carolina defines policy as “The set of rules, formal and informal, that directly restrict, encourage, or otherwise shape flows of information. Information policy includes, literacy, privatization and distribution of government information, freedom of information access, protection of personal privacy, intellectual property rights and the like”.
Information professional had a major role to play when it comes to information policy development. Reding (2005) says library, managed by information professionals, is a district institution that plays prominent role in shaping the society closely driven and guided by information policy. The architecture of information provision stems out from this institution as it has the expertise in acquiring, disseminating, organizing and administering information. Thus information professionals are not only collectors but also stewards safeguarding the nation’s heritage which in turn assure quality of access for citizens.
It is only information professionals who are capable to deliver their expertise in monitoring, regulating, shaping and implementing activities such as trans-border data flow, national information system, information expert and profession, information system, information expert and profession, information skill, consent dissemination, laws related to books, data usage and distribution, reading campaign, information retention, public access, knowledge sharing, national bibliography, repository library, acquisition of foreign publications, availability of information and book access. With all this host of expertise the information professional is in a good position in formulating information policy.
Orna (2008) suggests the development of information policy be coordinated by an advisory committee representative of private sector, local government, academics and professionals related to library and information science. Nwosu and Ogboma (2010) says the role of library and information professionals is even pivotal in the development of information policy. The library and archives acts as gateways to the information resources on the global superhigh ways.
Kargbo (2007) argues that matters relating to information policies should be the responsibility of the library and the information professionals. The library had a policy to select, organize and disseminate information, in addition to handling issues related to it. According to Gill (2001) and Kargo (2007), as well as information providers, libraries need to be a developer. They play an instrumental role in the information policy making, especially national information policies.
Scholars in the field of information policy commonly use two approaches in the development of policies. Both general and specific approaches focus on economic, social and cultural activities (Gray 1988). An approach based on library and information policies can be seen clearly in the classification of information policy as advocated by Bustamante (2007). According to him, the information policy can be classified into eight groups. These are public access policies, the promotion of reading habits and control of book policy, science and technology policy, a policy regarding mapping and statiscal information, a policy pertaining to the general public accessing to government information, a traditional information policy; communication technology related policies, and societal information policy.
There are two functions in this context that library and information professionals could usefully perform. First, with the current economic climate, policy emphasis is on efficiency savings and information staff can show how good use of information can save money. Again, information professionals could articulate to government the value and benefits of information, both for itself and the public.
One of the functions of the library is the dissemination of information. The library is assumed to play a crucial role in policy implementation. Other than the library, there is no agency of government that has a wide knowledge of the social significance of the accumulated resources, of knowledge in the public domain. With this vast knowledge at the hands of information professionals, they are positioned to play an important role in the information policy development.
The library or information professionals had a duty to create awareness on the said policy, ensuring feedback on policies, educating the public on the new policy since information professionals are trained to relate to members of the public. The libraries can create consortia; it is only through co-operative endeavors and consolidated effort that government policies can be effectively implemented. No single committee, commission, agency or institution can single handedly ensure an effective implementation of any government policy. The library or information professionals can aid in the development of new policies by providing the necessary information on government policies which is turn aids the development of such policies as well as improving on the existing ones.
The author had discussed how information professionals match up to information policy development by having expertise to acquire, disseminate, organize and administer information, monitoring, regulating, shaping and implementing activities to do with information sharing. Information professional promote efficiency in savings and show how good use of information can save money for the government.
Barbara Buckley, Owen L. Matthews G, 2012 Journal of Information Policy, Information Policymaking in the UK; The Role of The Information Professionals, United Kingdom.
Paul T., Olaifa, Oluwakeni O, 2011, The Role of Libraries and Information Centres in Government Policy Implementation in Nigeria, LIP Journal, Nigeria.
Gray J. (1979), National Policies for Scientific and Technical Information: The United Kingdom” Journal of Information Science, USA.
Rowlands I. 1999, The Role of The Library in Modern Society”, Paper presented at CENL Conference.
Luxemburg 29 September 1999 (SPEECH/05/566)
Gill, 2001, The Public Library Service: IFLA/ UNESCO guidelines for development, the Hague IFLA and institutions.
Etiwel Mutero holds a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Records and Archives Management through the Zimbabwe Open University and a National Certificate in Records and Archives Management from Kwekwe Polytechnic.You can contact him on 00264817871070 or firstname.lastname@example.org