Photo courtesy Catalyst Information Center
Catalyst is not only an organization, it’s a revolution. Founded in 1962 at the height of that decade’s social movement for equality, Catalyst has become the leading non-profit working to expand opportunities for women and business globally. Twelve years into operation, the organization made another innovative move and founded the Catalyst Information Center (IC). With its library and resources widely open to the public, the IC focused on helping individual women enter the labor force.
By the mid 1980s Catalyst saw the opportunity to have greater impact on change and turned from its mission of helping individual women make career choices to working with companies to advance women on a wider scale. The focus of the IC changed to match. This year Catalyst celebrates its 50th anniversary and continues its evolution into its next phase using virtualness and mobility to create global impact. In February 2012, when the New York office moved to an open plan, the IC closed the physical “information center” and moved toward a fully digital collection.
The IC is staffed by six trained librarians, who respond daily to requests from member organizations, many of which are Fortune 500 companies, the media, academics, and the public, as well as Catalyst's own researchers and consultants. It works especially closely with Catalyst members to find information that supports their efforts to build inclusive workplaces that help advance women. The IC team always works collaboratively, constantly in touch via various tools including Yammer, IM, Skype, email, text, and telephone, which allows them to easily communicate with each other and Catalyst’s global members across time zones. Last year, the IC team answered more than 700 reference requests, 500 of which were from member companies, the media or staff members about increasingly sophisticated topics and usually with a tight turnaround time. Their style of providing high-quality service and products to users, won them Special Libraries Association's Centers of Excellence Award from the Business & Finance Division in the Service Category in 2011.
Currently, the IC has numerous products in development; and are already well known for their Quick Takes, a wide-ranging collection of statistical-based fact sheets freely available on the website; the only current lists of women CEOs of the Fortune 1000 and Financial Post 500, including a historical list of the former (and a historical list of the FP500 CEOs is in the making); and a new line of products reflecting our increasing global focus is underway--the first, an overview of the business case for gender diversity in India. IC’s resource-filled knowledge sharing is set to thrive in the future, for inclusivity, openness to virtual work, and global reach are part of the culture at Catalyst.
Interested in having your institution highlighted in our member spotlight? Contact Member Services Manager, Tom Nielsen.