desperately seeking susan, afterall
My husband has never liked my blog’s jumbled reference to that 80s movie, information seeking, and rasta librarianship. But I tell you I’m on to something. Take this NPR piece about the complexity of credit card agreements (insert virtually any TOU here) — how funny that my hero in this story is named Susan.
If you’ve ever wondered what kinds of things a librarian like me does, this is it. Susan in this story is what I also seek to become as a technical services librarian. In essence, I want to make things simpler. Do I do this well? No, not yet. Ergo, desperately seeking. But, I think I’m getting closer to understanding that confused look people give me when I talk about communication so passionately as a librarian. I’m talking about the organization of information: communication that is the synthesized understanding of complexity.
I work with a lot of complexity in making electronic resources available for the library. License terms, technology, and communicating to a diverse set of customers how all this works requires just the right amount of detail, organized differently depending on the point of need. For users, that may be just getting them the article they need as quickly as possible. For my colleagues in ILL, it’s communicating what resources they have what rights to share with other libraries. For librarians who liaison with teaching faculty, it’s getting them the data they need to make effective collection and instruction decisions about e-resources. Most broadly, it’s about communicating the value of libraries to a tight-budgeted, politically divided, Google-dependent information society (p.s. I like Google).
My husband is right, though. I can only truly make a difference by focusing in on my small piece of the pie. My organizational development friends call this understanding the difference between our “circle of influence” and our “circle of concern”. I’m too poor a communicator in the traditional sense to influence much farther than my individual professional responsibilities, service, and research. But it remains my desperate hope or concern for the larger good that keeps me enduring and engaged in my circle of influence.
And, like Roberta (Rosanna Arquette, Desperately Seeking Susan), “I just love that word desperate. It’s so romantic”.