Poster presentation in Copenhagen: Mapping the UK Information Workforce at #asist2016

Heering Copenhagen

Some colour under a cold grey sky in Copenhagen

I’ve been in Copenhagen since the end of last week, participating at the 79th Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science and Technology. I’ve been enjoying the presentations – from Greg Welch‘s keynote on telepresence to Debbie Rabina‘s account of research of prisoners’ information needs examined through discourse analysis – and catching up with colleagues from around the world.

There’s some really interesting work being conducted in Information Science across the globe, and I’ve learnt about some tempting job opportunities too. For example, if you’re functionally bilingual in English and French, and looking for a tenure-track position in North America, the University of Ottawa’s School of Information Studies – l’École des sciences de l’information (ÉSIS) – is hoping to recruit an Associate Professor who can make contributions to teaching and research in  library and information management. Do contact Mary Cavanagh (,@mfcavanagh) if this is of interest to you. I’ve also managed to play tourist a little with a short visit the city (in the cold and grey) on Sunday morning with my Finnish colleague Gunilla Widen.

I’m making two contributions at this event: (1) on Saturday I delivered a keynote presentation; (2) this evening I will be taking part in the conference poster session. My poster presents the findings of the Workforce Mapping Project that my group undertook with colleagues in Edinburgh Napier University’s Employment Research Institute in 2014/15.

This work was commissioned by the Archives and Records Association (ARA) and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) with the overarching aim of profiling the UK workforce in libraries, archives, records, information management, and knowledge management.

The empirical work focused on two main activities. The first was an analysis of the (limited) secondary data on this particular workforce in the Labour Force Survey. The second comprised the analysis of 9,103 usable returns from a survey distributed to workers in the five employment areas in spring 2015.

From this we calculated an estimated workforce size of 86,376 individuals, the majority of whom are based in England. The workforce is ageing and lacks diversity (e.g. in terms of gender and race). It is highly qualified, but there is evidence of low pay for the level of qualifications offered. Although women dominate these professions, the senior and better paid roles tend to be occupied by men.

This project was the first ever national workforce mapping study of its kind worldwide. It has already been used to inform the strategy of ARA and CILIP, and as an evidence base for advocacy work. For example, it has led to a call for a National Library and Information Skills Strategy, and contributed to a UK government consultation on the future of libraries. Further details of the Workforce Mapping Project can be found in the full text submission for the poster submission. This is available (with all other successful poster submissions) in the online conference proceedings for ASIST2016 as Poster 37, and as a four-page PDF file from the Edinburgh Napier repository .

ASIST2016 continues until Tuesday evening. Follow the conference on Twitter at #asist2016.

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