The Division of Government Information is delighted to be posting on the Future Ready 365 blog this week. DGI is a diverse community of knowledgeable information professionals who share an interest in government information and government librarianship. Our posts this week come from librarians in a variety of government library environments including federal, military, and academic. These DGI blog contributors share their insights on navigating the complicated landscape that today’s information professional must travel — from getting that library job to staying on top in a rapidly changing field once you’re there. Maybe you’d like to join us on the journey! Come check out the Division of Government Information at: http://govinfo.sla.org/.
by Richard Huffine, Washington, DC Chapter, Environment & Resource Management, Government Information, Knowledge Management, Leadership & Management, and Taxonomy Divisions
I’ve always looked at my career as an information professional as being one of happily working to help people solve puzzles. I’ve worked for research organizations most of my career and the goal of a researcher is often either to summarize everything that has ever been said on a topic or to explore that one tiny area that scientists before have never fully explored and explained. Both of these challenges for information professionals put us into “puzzlemaster” mode. We delve into arcane resources, explore different phrases, synonyms, pseudonyms, misspellings, and vague references to try and find relevant information that assists our colleagues in making a real and permanent mark in their fields.
These days we are supporting a whole new breed of researcher – one that has access to most if not all that we ourselves use to help solve their puzzles. The trick these days is to identify and obtain some of the arcane literature that will fully complete their quest. Our job continues to be one of filling in the holes and making the connections that our colleagues in the field either can’t or simply don’t have time to do themselves. Even today with major research institutions digitizing the contents of their libraries and collecting the research materials of their faculty in institutional repositories, I still find it deeply satisfying when I find something that they didn’t know existed.
The state of the Internet and its massive collection of research literature is one of prairies and potholes today. There are lots of systems where information is buried and there are a lot of false hits where a resource is described but not linked. We also have all kinds of fee-based services that offer access to literature that isn’t free and available on the Web. This reality is what leads me to seeing our skills continue to be in high demand for years to come. Information Professionals are also at the forefront of changing that landscape and making sure that you can discover a resource whether or not it costs something to use.
I love my job because of the challenges I face every day and because of the good I know that I’m doing by working with researchers who have a mission to change the world.
Richard Huffine is the founding Chair of the Special Library Association’s Government Information Division. He is also currently a member of the SLA Board of Directors, serving as the 2012 Division Cabinet Chair. Richard has been a librarian in the U.S. Federal Government for more than 15 years.