I attended the New England Archivist (NEA) conference this past weekend. I really enjoy remaining active in this organization, regardless of my job title. I also think it is important to continually expose myself to what people are doing in other, varied fields. I strongly believe that information professionals across the spectrum are much more similar than different. We can learn a lot from each other, often novel insights and ideas on issues we all face, if we just step outside the narrow definitions or the silos of specific titles/roles. I can almost always find something that is applicable to my work. Even if only some parts, or with innovation of my own, I can find unique ways of applying the pioneering projects of others.
Medical librarianship is a small field. Archives are a small field. Even information professionals in general are a relatively small group. But though small, these different areas still seem to become rather isolated and insular. These subsets can become so nuanced and complex just dealing within themselves, that it can become hard to recognize the commonalities.
Innovation occurs at the crossroads. I like to position myself at these crossroads. Remaining involved in areas that are not always connected allows for the opportunity to promote greater understanding and collaboration. I am a medical librarian now, but I am also a trained archivist. I can advocate for both groups to the other. I can point out connections, areas of similarity, and opportunities for collaboration. What I hope is to make myself and these different areas stronger. Information does not exist in a contextual or historical vacuum. Documents, resources, and information all have a lifecycle. I think it is important to be familiar with all parts of the cycle. This can help identity where a particular piece of information may exist or need to go, or be expanded and better understood to help a patron. The more tools and resources I have to draw upon in my daily work and when helping patrons, the more confident and successful I can be. I attended sessions on data management and creating data/information networks. I got to talk with people working in medical archives, working with information I find fascinating and have had need to draw upon in my current position. Ultimately, I find it fun. I love learning about everything and will keep trying to have my toes (if only my toes) in many different waters. It’s engaging and inspiring and informative. A Librarian Can…also be an archivist, or anything else they want to be, in order to serve themselves, their patrons, and this profession.