Let Me Take Off My Library Hat and Put On My Transportation One

chimera of Mackinac

Originally uploaded by uBookworm

Last week I was up in Seattle for the 2009 Joint Summer Meeting of the Transportation Research Board. Ahh, the life of a transportation librarian.

Going to transportation conference relatively close on the heels of a library conference is disorienting. I’m used to talking in library lingo to an audience of people who don’t freak out when you say “I’m intrigued by the information seeking behavior of engineers and how the role of metadata upon that.” If I said that to the transportation people, they’d probably blink and walk away.

Once I shed the “library” tag from myself (and my way of thinking), it was clear how much I could learn from the engineers and planners. Listening to their needs and responding with their vernacular. Indexing papers for TRIS is good because I have to keep current with their research. Of course it’s intimidating, working with engineers who handle huge data sets for modeling, but halfway through my first meeting I realized to them I’m in expert in information. It makes sense. That is my job after all. I don’t generate transportation information, I don’t analyze it either, but I do work towards making it retrievable and accessible.

So now that my Summer conferences are over and I’m preparing for the Fall Semester and working on bringing my skills and knowledge from the library world to transportation. I just need to do it in a way that isn’t too bibliocentric. (Ahh, to be Special.)






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