Why We Do What We Do the Way We Do It

by Stephanie Leigh Taylor, Head Editor, INALJ British Columbia

Why We Do What We Do the Way We Do It

inalj april 2013 worditoutWhat draws a person towards a career as an information professional?  Is it an obsessive need to have things in their right place, the satisfaction of everything formatted correctly, the thrill of a perfectly set-up database?  Is it a freewheeling appreciation of reckless teaching & learning, as the contents of a library contain the history of humankind’s learning, thinking and doing?  Do we do what we do because we love stories, or engaging ourselves and our communities in cerebral adventures?  Are we drawn to information because some of us grew up with computers and were drawn into a life of codes and flash in order to educate others of our passions, or allow others to share with the world? 

I’ve been thinking about this lately, due to a book I recently finished titled “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan.  In it, the protagonist attempts to solve a centuries-old mystery of the written word using a variety of tools both old and new, computers and e-readers as well as printing presses and audiobooks (on cassette, my god).  He does this primarily to help his employer, but also, I think, to satisfy the curiosity that draws many of us to the information profession, the urge to know, or if not to know, then at least to have that which contains knowledge within our grasp.  What could be more satisfying, more delicious, than to stand as a gatekeeper, a guard, a sentry, over all of humanity’s efforts and that most pure of substances, information?

And get paid for it?

With the right information, as we all know, we can do anything – plant gardens, do taxes, deliver babies, wage wars, cook, have sex, understand theoretical physics or just re-tile your bathroom.  Hand in hand with that comes the organization of information, because what good is a mass of information with no way of getting at it?  As items are described, we make connections between disparate material, and in doing so, understand the world.

I believe all of us in the information biz, no matter our roles, are in this career due to our curiosity and our desire to arrange what we learn into new shapes and connections, to add to what has been already known and to share discovery with others.  Thoughts or stories on why you joined to information brigade?  Please share with the rest of us – it’s always fascinating to hear how other people fall in love.  Here is the LinkedIn INALJ discussion you can join on this topic.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.