Saturday, April 22, 2006

How a Librarian Works

I just read "How I Work" by Bill Gates and somehow I was struck by how closely my own work processes correspond to his. It made me realize that if I compiled a Top 10 list of influences on my life, Microsoft/Bill Gates would necessarily have to be there.

Gates says "there isn't much paper" in his office. In my own office are many calatogs of book publishers, printouts of completed patron requests, and printouts of things I'm currently working on. I don't yet use online to-do lists. I still feel I need something printed out in front of me if it needs my attention.

E-mail is the medium of choice at Microsoft, and it is the one I use the most as well, to communicate with other librarians and patrons. IM I currently use exclusively with librarians.

Gates ignores "the toast"--the little box with a new email message that appears in the lower right of the screen--unless it's high priority, but I answer immediately if it is a question involving me. I haven't noticed that it causes me to lose focus.

SharePoint seems to be one of Gates' favored tools for collaboration, and it is growing in importance in my world as well. I expect more and more librarians will learn about it and use it in the future. It fits in well with Library 2.0 initiatives.

And the desktop search feature has tranformed the way I find things on my computer as well. I'm sure some things would have been inaccessible, or at least taken a long time to find, without it.

Gates gets 90% of his new online, and for me, that figure would be about 95%. I almost never read a newspaper or magazine in its print version. I spend the vast majority of my time in front of my computer screen, so paper isn't nearly as important to my workday as it used to be. And it will become even less so in the future, as more and more library processes become digitized.

I assume many librarians have similar stories to tell.

tags: , ,

No comments: