I was getting my morning fill of Twitter updates this morning, when I saw a tweet from Emily Clasper go by that made a simple, yet intriguing statement:
I know most librarians have no clue about the ideas at #sesnyc but how are we supposed 2 b info experts if we don’t know how the info works.
Emily is Manager of Systems Operations and Training at Suffolk Cooperative Library System (SCLS) up in New York. The #sesnyc that she mentions is a Search Engine conference that discusses many topics including Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) techniques, along with a number of other topics. “The Clue” she is talking about is understanding how things that we use everyday in our research strategies actually work. These are topics that Emily is passionate about, and that we’ve discussed here on 3 Geeks before. It is also this passion that makes Emily a “Mover & Shaker” in the library world, especially in the Tech area of libraries.
I love Emily’s passion. I think that she is a valuable asset in the library community, and that she has a lot to offer any of us that will listen to her. But we can’t all be Emily Claspers. Luckily, we can all learn from Emily and others out there that have similar passions. Whether it is through Social Media resources like Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., or through conferences, or even through old fashion emails, we can communicate, learn, teach, and gain experiences from experts that know a lot about specialized areas of knowledge information, and are happy to share their expertise.
There’s a saying in the library field that we may not always know the answers, but we know where to find those answers. Traditionally, the “finding” has been through books. In the past 30 years, it has shifted to online resources. In the past couple of years, I see a trend that some of those answers lie within people, not print or electronic resources. The access to “people” has exploded with all the instant communications (email, Twitter), and the archives of past experiences that these experts have shared with us (Google, LinkedIn, Blogs.) That is a very powerful expansion of knowledge. In addition, that expansion doesn’t just apply to your specific field. If you notice, Emily is not a law librarian like I am. Perhaps in the past, we would have never known about each other because our “analog-selves” run in different circles. However, our “digital-selves” cross paths quite often.
Although I consider myself a tech geek, I don’t think I’m close to the expert in the field as the Emily Claspers of the world. Fortunately, I don’t have to be. There are those that know a lot about a niche part of the profession… and there are those that know a little about a lot of areas. Both have their uses. Generalists can learn pieces of knowledge from the experts, and in return, experts can learn practical applications from the generalists. That can be a powerful combination as long as we are all willing to share and to listen.