Hello from the nation’s capital! DC/SLA is excited to be contributing all of this week’s FutureReady365 posts (thanks to our future-thinking Communications Secretary, Chris Vestal). We are a diverse community of 800+ information professionals, with members from D.C., Maryland, Virginia, as well as 30 other U.S. states and 12 countries. You’ll see this diversity reflected in the range of future ready ideas presented in posts throughout the week. We hope our posts will spark some thought and conversation and, of course, your comments. Most of all, we want to help keep the spark of the FutureReady blog alive – a spark that’s become a fire, gathering us around it to brainstorm our way into the future. — Mary Talley, DC/SLA President (2011)
by Kristin Whitman
I am solo librarian at a company that performs scientific and technical literature searching for customers with intellectual property research needs. The most important aspect of staying future ready in my role is to anticipate how digitally accessible content, and product platform offerings from vendors, will improve in upcoming product releases – not just next month, but next year and beyond.
Unlike many librarians tasked with electronic collection development, my goal is not only provide access to the *best* sources of information on a certain topic, but also to the most *comprehensive* coverage of that topic. In addition, my users need product interfaces and content indexing that can support deep dives into this material. Because of these many requirements, I can never be satisfied with a subscription product that simply offers baseline coverage. I must constantly investigate the field of available products, and keep my eyes on the horizon for news of exciting new offerings that vendors may be plotting for next year’s release.
Accomplishing my collection development goals means developing positive relationships with vendor representatives, and speaking to them often. Maintaining an active role in relevant professional societies provides many opportunities to develop these relationships, which I value (personally as well as professionally – many of them are wonderful people!). I am always open to new vendor contacts: active participation at conferences increases my visibility helps make me a target for cold calls and check-in e-mails alike, which I welcome. And I almost always accept the opportunity to view a product demonstration. For me, conference exhibit halls aren’t just a place to drop my raffle tickets – basically, if you’re demoing a product, I’ll stand in line to see it regardless of the free swag incentive (but I’ll be happy to take your branded stress balls and sticky notes as well, thank you!).
In addition, monitoring industry news publications, both print and digital is an absolute must. I regularly check my RSS feeds for news across the field, and if I don’t take a peek at the frequent e-mail news blasts I receive from vendors, I’m doing my patrons a disservice. I never know when someone will come to me with a request for an unusual source or an unusual search function. I strive to be one step ahead of these requests, and am always pleased to hear news that vendors are keeping one step ahead as well!
Kristin Whitman is a reference librarian at Landon IP, a leading intellectual property research company. She was one of the founding members of Intellogist (www.Intellogist.com), a publication which reviews search products, and is a contributor to the Intellogist Blog at http://intellogist.wordpress.com.