The WSJ announced the closing of their library and 14 newsroom position cuts in Feb. The library shut its doors officially on March 23. Leslie Norman, the assistant librarian who has been running the library since 2007, reacts to the announcement here, and her reaction is heartbreaking.
Her memo is emotional and touching, but also gets to the heart of the matter: who will do the research for the reporters? The answer the librarian received is, “No one.” One of the reasons cited for the decision is that the reporters have access to Factiva and other electronic databases and that this “migration” to self-searching has been happening for years.
In other words, the reporters will have to spend time they don’t have (and probably money, too) doing their own research. It will be interesting to see if the quality of WSJ’s reporting suffers from this decision.
In this unprecedented time of financial distress, libraries are in danger of closing everywhere, and unless we can prove our indispensable worth to the organization, it will continue to happen.
“There are so many little things about what we do…how do I possibly explain them or even write them down?”
Right on, Leslie! You are indispensable to the WSJ organization – there are things that only you and your colleagues know how to do. And it’s only a matter of time until the WSJ realizes it and feels the effects of its decision. Here’s a report from a recent survey from the Institute for Corporate Productivity, Inc. (i4cp) that states that most companies aren’t prepared for the aftershocks of layoffs. In fact, only 20% of companies think that they do a good job of retaining organizational knowledge when they lay off workers.
This article from Information Outlook states, “If there was ever a time when [information] services required serious management and cried out for benchmarking and other forms of comparison and analysis, then it is now.”