Share and conquer: Pooling our programming know-how

20150105-ericaleeBy Erica Lee

A while back, CATIE wanted to find out what’s been done across the country to assess the frontline needs of HIV and hepatitis C service providers and service users. As the information specialist (or librarian) here at CATIE, I was duly tasked with locating whatever reports I could find.

Scouring organization websites I was able to gather over 50 reports, reflecting the amazing work we do to understand and better serve our communities. Many were available online, and when I contacted organizations to get copies of reports that weren’t, people were very willing to share their work. The list of reports might have been longer still if the organizations that were unfortunately unable to locate the reports written so many years ago had been able to find them.

I’m sure we’ve all been in similar situations before, trying to find models and tools in the work of our fellow service providers to inform our own work. You probably thought at some point in your search how much easier it would be if you could conveniently tap into this knowledge and experience in a central place.

Well, look no further. Sage has been developed in partnership by the Canadian AIDS Society, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and CATIE for just that purpose.

Sage is a new online tool for Canadian HIV and hepatitis C service providers to share the resources they’ve created with their peers in the field. Are you trying to find a resource for a client? Do you need sample questions for a survey? Would consulting another organization’s human resources manual help you handle an issue you’re facing? The Sage collection is growing to respond to all these needs.

How exactly does Sage work? Organizations and individuals join Sage and add their resources to the collection. Other service providers across the country can search the collection and download resources they can use in their own work.

You don’t need to join Sage to search the vast majority of the collection – anyone is welcome to do that – but a contributor can choose to make some resources available only to fellow members. (Membership, by the way, is free.)

Sharing your resources to access the full collection is a great exchange. And the resources in Sage go beyond the up-to-date client resources and reports spread out among other great sources like our public websites. Sage members are encouraged to share a wide variety of documents, including resources that may not be accessible elsewhere, like internal policies and procedures and older, archived resources.

Sage is a tool to help us do collectively what we each can’t do on our own: pool together our work and knowledge on a broad range of topics in a single, online source with each member responsible for their own contributions. While your own website may be trying to reach a range of different audiences, Sage’s goal is to help you connect with your peers. Sharing resources through Sage helps you increase the reach and extend the usefulness of your work.

You can also use Sage to archive and ensure ongoing access to your work. You might want to remove the posters from an old campaign from your website, but continue to access them from an archive. You and other service providers can still benefit from the messaging and visuals as models for future campaign development. The little extra step of ensuring something is permanently and centrally stored will save you time in the future when someone within or outside your organization looks for it again.

Visit Sage at www.sagecollection.ca to learn more about our contributors and search the collection. You can also submit an application and start sharing your resources or contact us with your questions. We look forward to welcoming you to Sage!

Erica Lee is the Information Specialist at CATIE, where she helps with the CATIE website, conducts information searches and looks after Sage.

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