April 3, 2008

There and Back Again: From Microscope to Telescope

The librarian's been busy!

The scope of my responsibilities here is very well-defined. I am a content (read CON-tent, although I am most definitely con-TENT, as well) generalist and since I have virtually no background in the subject matter we deal with, I can remain neutral, and focus on the process of information management. This is telescopic in nature as often as it is microscopic: I have to take a broad view of where we are going with our information products based on the minutiae of individual reference calls, research requests, and email complaints.

An ophthalmologist will tell you that the health of your eyes relies to some extent on the frequency and duration of your eyes' transition from far sight to close-up focus. When driving long distances, check your mirrors and speedometer at regular intervals, not just because this is a good idea, but it also gives your eyes a break from the sometimes monotonous and all-too-regular view of a low-traffic highway (I'm imagining driving West on interstate 80 from Chicago to Iowa City).

In my job I have to take these breaks when they come and recognize the importance of that transition. Some days I sit on my floor stuffing packets of materials for our representatives in the field. Sometimes I think a particular brochure should really be reworked to cater to a different audience. Other days I sit in meetings where we talk about our "web presence" and where we are going with information architecture.

My ocular health, as well as my integrity as an Information Specialist, relies on this back and forth rhythm from microscope to telescope. Myriad views provide myriad perspectives. I know all jobs probably have aspects of this, but as a librarian in the digital age I cannot imagine a more important job qualification than being able to oscillate between the close-up and far-away views and weaving it all together while riding the tide of the information flow. Keep your eye on the horizon and you won't get seasick! And smile.

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