Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jamaican Libraries need to implement business information services

Jamaica Library Service and the National Library of Jamaica to my knowledge do not provide any special library service to business persons. They offer a general library service to adult users, but none specifically aimed at providing the business persons with information. This is surprising considering that the more established library traditions of United States of America (see for example http://www.nypl.org/locations/sibl) and Britain (http://www.bl.uk/bipc/aboutus/index.html) do offer this service.

 In fact, one core public library mission according to the IFLA/UNESCO Public Library 1994 Manifesto is that of 'providing adequate information services to local enterprises, associations and interest groups'. http://archive.ifla.org/VII/s8/unesco/eng.htm

Manley establishes that providing library services to businesses should be done by every public library. When public libraries participate in the provision of business information services , they have the opportunity to directly impact economic needs and provide ‘a service of paramount importance to the community’ (Manley 'Preface'). Library service in providing business information can have the most impact on society, as this service touches every individual, including ‘those interested in earning a living’ among others (Manley 'Preface'). Business further impact on employment and a nation’s standards of living, both in terms of wealth and job creation. In this regard, Manley concludes that a library’s business information service is an extension of general library service which is to provide information to meet the needs of one's community.

What is a business information service?

According to Manley a business information service provides answers to business questions and in particular those questions  that cannot be answered personal experience (4). Library business information  service is a service offered by the library where users turn to the library to answer business question and the library helps the user to get his answer (Manley 6). Answers could be gotten through either the  library’s 1) providing selected materials and/or 2) serving as a ‘point of contact through which other information sources can be tapped’ (Manely 7)

Business information services are not the only contribution that libraries have made to the development of businesses. Yates indicate how libraries have shaped businesses from the founding of the first professional library school. She points out how in the 1890s and early in the twentieth century, that librarians helped businesses better organize and make accessible their own internal information through the vertical file ( 56). She points out that the vertical filing of papers ‘a new form of flat filing which evolved from the vertical card files used by librarians, was presented to the business world in 1893’ and became adopted by many businesses (Yates 56). Hence libraries have had a tradition of serving businesses information management needs. 

Works Cited:

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). "IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto." 1994. (November 3, 2004): International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). 2011. <http://archive.ifla.org/VII/s8/unesco/eng.htm>.

Manley, Marian C. Library Service to Business: Its Place in the Small City. Chicago: American Library Association (ALA), 1946. Print.

Yates, JoAnne. Control through Communication: The Rise of System in American Management. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1993. Print.

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