Biggest change I’ve seen in my job

Because everyone has access to the Internet, the questions are more specific.

PrintScott needs to know:

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in your job?

My job, which I started on October 19, 1992, has changed radically.

In case you did not know, I am a business librarian for the New York Small Business Development Center, “library information specialist,” by title. The SBDC program, which exists in every state in the US, offers free and confidential business advisement.

People come to the NY SBDC and have questions for the counselors. There’s quite a bit those professionals already have at their fingertips, but when they get a query that they cannot answer, they contact the Research Network library. We answer questions, using a number of paid databases and other resources – personally, I use the Census page quite often – send the answers to the counselors, who share the information with the client.

When we started, we had no Internet. We got our information from something called… it’ll come to me… oh, yeah, books. We would copy pages from books. This was supplemented by info from database information – some were paid services such as Nexis/Lexis, plus some on CD-ROMs. These were a pain because we had to wait our turn to use them at a dedicated machine.

The first big “breakthrough” was when the half dozen CD-ROMs were put on a Local Area Network (LAN) so that we all could access the info on the CDs AT THE SAME TIME. This sounds mundane now, but it was a real time-saver.

What did we do with this information? We printed it out and mailed it, which killed many trees and was expensive in terms of postage. And when a packet got lost in the mail, which happened, we had to start the process almost all over again. We may have saved the electronic searches, but not always the paper information.

There were programs at the State University of New York that had Internet before we did, and it was frustrating. I know that one of our library directors gave a talk to our advisors about being able to get information about the Kobe earthquake of January 1995 almost immediately. But at that moment, in the spring of 1995, only she and another librarian, out of seven of us at the time, had Internet access.

Eventually, we all got Internet connections, and this thing called email. One of my colleagues remembers sending me a message from ten feet away, and we delighted about how silly that was when I could just hand him a piece of paper, or tell him. Of course, now I email everything.

We went through a period of trying to email our information to the counselors, attaching PDFs and other electronic files. The trouble was that the recipient’s email capacity could be easily overwhelmed in those early days. As of five or six years ago, we have an electronic delivery system hosted on one of our websites where the counselors can pick up the information we’ve created for them.

One other significant change: for the first six years of the program, we were provided reference service for the whole country, through a contract with the US Small Business Administration, and had as many as seven librarians. Now we provide services just for the New York State offices and presently have four librarians.

The constant is that we provide reference service. The difference, in addition to the resources used and the delivery method, is that, because everyone has access to the Internet, the questions are more specific. Whereas we might have gotten a question for a restaurant, now it’s for a Thai-Mexican fusion restaurant.

Oh, most of the librarians make fewer calls to agencies, associations, and the like, but I find that people are still great resources.

Ten things I’ve done that I’m still proud of

It’s not that I’m averse to changing the blog layout. I’m just not particularly adept at it.

10thingsFor this iteration of Ask Roger Anything, Eunai gets right to the point:

Ten things you’ve done that you’re still proud of.

OK. I found this challenging. In no particular order:

1. Getting arrested at an antiwar demonstration in the town of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY. The trial was very interesting.

2. Editing the Spider-Man Chronicles for FantaCo in 1982. I was learning how to do this by trial and error.

3. Going to grad school to get my Masters in Library Science when I was 37 to 39 years old.

4. Trying out for and appearing on JEOPARDY! in 1998.

5. My very good grasp of mass transit systems in fairly short order. That’s true in Albany, of course, but I’ve gotten comfortable in Atlanta, Boston, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Toronto, and possibly others.

6. Keeping very good friends for a long time, even staying civil with ex-girlfriends.

7. Getting Black History Month at First Presbyterian to be less about the perceived needs of the black members and more focused on the whole community.

8. When I ride my bike, I generally follow the rules, even when no one is looking, or I don’t think anyone is looking. What I’ve noticed is that, sometimes, accurately used hand signals by a bicyclist has a calming effect on a driver. Of course, when I get passed by a guy riding on the wrong side, through the red light, my work is undercut, but so be it.

9. Helping to raise our daughter without totally wrecking her. Of course, she still has her teen years, so I still have my chance.

10. Doing this here blog, every day, for 11 years and about five months.
And speaking of the blog, the fabulous Scott F wrote:

I’ve been reading your blog again and found I’ve missed it. How do you think you’ve changed as a blogger over the time you’ve been doing this? One thing that hasn’t changed is the layout of the page. Ever think of changing it? (By the way, that’s not me saying it needs a change.)

Welcome back.

Well, I sort of know what I’m doing about 90% of the time. I write ahead so that I don’t stress out if I get sick/too tired/too busy/a bad Internet connection.

I write about enough different things that you can say, “Well, that doesn’t particularly interest me,” but the next day might be more to your liking. The variety is more to MY liking; I can’t write the same category of post back to back.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I found a list of celebrities who will turn 70 in 2017 that I will write about. Knowing what the topics will be – and this also includes family birthdays, major holidays, and significant anniversaries – helps the brain to think about it casually so that when I actually DO write about it, it is not a tabula rasa. I may have even come across an article or two, which I’ll throw in the draft file until I get closer to the date.

I find that it is MUCH better to write about ANYTHING, so if that piece on Trump isn’t writing itself – it seldom does – then I’ll look for an ABC Wednesday post for three or four weeks from now, or a piece about a musician’s birthday, or a Music Throwback Saturday. As I’ve noted, some days, I have NO idea what is posting that particular day until it goes live, at which point I almost always see the damned typo.

As for the layout, it did change in May 2010 from my Blogger blog to this WordPress iteration. It’s not that I’m averse to changing it. I’m just not particularly adept at doing techie things or visual things, or especially techie visual things. Recently, some simple bit for my blog took a half-hour, which was aggravating, and I don’t have a half-hour to waste on something that wasn’t all that important in the grander scheme anyway.

Now if YOU want to take a shot at redesigning my blog, go ahead. Seriously. I also lack what George HW Bush called “the vision thing.” Change it to what? I have literally no idea.

Are YOU still blogging, BTW?

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