IT shapes the librarians to come

November 20, 1998

The Library Association and the Institute of Information Scientists are proposing to merge to reflect the rapid developments taking place in information and communications technologies.

The merger would result in what is tentatively called the Information and Library Association, boasting a combined membership of over 28,000.

A consultation document is going out to members of both bodies in the next few weeks. It says that advances in digital technologies mean "the traditional distinctions between the librarian and the information scientist have become irrelevant".

To perpetuate that distinction is "a disservice to their members, to the profession as a whole and indeed, society", it says.

Private and public organisations are starting to realise that the information and knowledge they possess are a vital asset that requires the skills of high-calibre information professionals to create, manage and exploit. Combining the LA and IIS would place the members at the "centre of the information revolution".

Ross Shimon, chief executive of the Library Association, said: "The great thing about a merged body would be that it would present a strong and united voice on behalf of the profession."

There is also a clear overlapping of the interests of the two bodies, says the paper. Both bodies now accredit programmes at universities, often on a joint basis. They award professional qualifications, maintain active publishing programmes and run courses and conferences.

The LA and IIS estimate the net financial result of unification would be a loss of Pounds 37,000 in subscriptions on a combined turnover of Pounds 4.6 million.

The closing date for the consultation is March 15, 1999.

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