Senior Information Manager

 10 May 2012

Senior managers are in charge of organising a particular aspect of an information service. They may work as part of the senior management team and be one of several managers working together under a head of service.

Senior managers use their experience to contribute to the running of their organisation.
Senior managers use their experience to contribute to the running of their organisation.

Job titles may include: senior archivist, senior information officer, senior records manager or senior librarian. They may work in:

  • Archives
    Managing and preserving unique collections of original historical items.
  • Information
    Developing effective systems to gather, organise and distribute information
  • Records
    Organising, retaining and storing documents
  • Libraries
    Making books and other library stock available for people to access.

What does a senior information manager do?

A senior manager is likely to have responsibility for a specific part of the organisation’s work.

Senior managers use their experience to contribute to the running of their organisation.

The details of the work will vary according to the specific responsibilities of the role, but are likely to include:

  • allocating staff and resources to ensure the work of the team is carried out effectively and efficiently
  • day-to-day management of an area of responsibility
  • managing a budget
  • ensuring quality standards and targets are met
  • strategic planning
  • implementing new procedures
  • analysing management information
  • advising and working with other organisations
  • reporting to heads of service and management boards.

A senior manager is likely to have responsibility for a specific part of the organisation’s work. This might be, for example, acquisitions and purchasing, disposals, operations, electronic services, outreach or strategy and development.

Some senior managers take responsibility for a geographical area (likely to be a subdivision of the service’s geographical area).

In larger organisations with hierarchical management structures, there may also be chief officers and/or directors. Some may have more specific titles reflecting their role such as director of operations, director of technology, chief information officer, policy director, head of business development, head of digital services, area manager, etc.

Becoming a senior information manager

Whichever area they work in, many senior managers are qualified librarians, archivists, records managers or information managers. Most have a degree, although not necessarily in a relevant subject. They will have studied at postgraduate level and hold either a diploma or a Masters in their field. They may also have a management qualification.

They are likely to be chartered librarians or the equivalent, such as having studied for the Archives and Records Association Registration Scheme. Many are members of a professional body

Many senior managers will have worked in libraries, archives, records or information for most or all of their careers. They will have worked their way up by promotion, gaining experience of different parts of the organisation. It is also common now for senior managers to have changed employer to gain experience or promotion.

For example, an archivist may have worked in different archive services throughout the UK and possibly in private or other collections as well, while a librarian may have worked in library services in different local authorities. Some senior staff may also have worked overseas to gain experience.

Other senior managers may come from different business backgrounds, particularly where other specialisms are needed, such as finance, IT (information technology), HR (human resources) or working with specific customer groups such as young people.

Building a career in information management

Senior managers can move through the management structure of their own organisation. This is particularly true of larger organisations with different grades of manager. A senior librarian, for example, could be promoted to head of service. A senior information officer could become a chief information officer, then director of information services and head of service.

Some senior managers may choose to specialise in certain areas, such as electronic services, children’s library services or digitisation.

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