Facing the Future: Challenges & Choices


  • Michael Upshall


The UKeiG Members’ Day for 2016 was a great success, with an eclectic and enthusiastic membership taking time out to look to the future, addressing the trends and challenges impacting on the information profession.

CILIP Chief Executive Nick Poole led on an optimistic note by encouraging the profession to embrace change. ‘I believe the future for the information, library and knowledge profession is exciting and vibrant with endless possibilities shaped by changing technology and the changing needs of our users. The challenge is to continue to grow and develop, learn, adapt and innovate.’ UKeiG is in a prime position to shape and lead change.

Lin Lin, Senior User Experience Researcher at EBSCO presented us with a dilemma by unravelling the student psyche and highlighting the processes that an average young scholar goes through to research for an essay. Any information literacy training is quickly forgotten, jettisoned in the last minute midnight rush to hit a deadline; pursuing Google and Wikipedia with a vengeance, and largely oblivious to information professional speak like ‘Boolean’, ‘database, even ‘catalogue.’ Where have we gone wrong?

David Milward, CTO of Linguamatics, presented a fascinating insight into text mining, highlighting its huge potential to inform evidence-based decision-making. The auto-analysis and manipulation of free text on a large scale will enable us to extract and summarise key information, categorise documents more effectively, discover emerging terminology, generate metadata and define relationships between documents. However, there are significant challenges in this area, largely around making sense of masses of unstructured information and data, but also disambiguating natural language and all of the pitfalls that it presents in terms of synonymous terminology, different meanings and expressions, grammar and context.