Here’s another entry in the post series “Many Paths to Librarianship Profiles,” this time featuring my friend and former coworker Kait Jackson. Kait and I worked together for a few years in the intellectual property (mainly patent) information field, and today Kait works as a reference librarian with a focus on patent information.
1. How did you originally become interested in librarianship as a career?I first remember admiring librarians in middle school while doing a research paper on The Beatles for English class. This was before the internet really blew up, and I was doing searches by hand in the card catalog. I remember thinking how cool it must be to be the lady at the front desk, who knows where everything is, or at the very least knows where to find it. Later on, in college, I started working at my university’s library and became truly hooked on helping people find information that they needed.
2. How would you describe your library field niche?
I studied and worked with intellectual property laws and concepts at my college library, and then again when I went to graduate school, while working in interlibrary loan and document sharing. In graduate school I took classes on copyright law, and my first real job out of school was working at an intellectual property firm dealing with patents, trademarks, and occasionally copyright. Currently I work in the US Patent and Trademark Office’s public search facility, where I help users get acquainted with and navigate our search systems, locate documents in the print and microfilm collections, and direct them to more specific resources like the Office of Innovation and Development and the Trademark Assistance Center. Right now we’re also preparing a microfilm collection of Patent Gazettes going back to 1790 for cataloguing!
3. What types of skills that wouldn’t generally be considered “traditional library work” have you learned during your career as a librarian?
All the libraries I’ve worked in have been so varied it’s hard to tell where the “traditional library work” line is anymore. This week I’ve plugged computer monitors back in and rotated displays, helped translate a request from Spanish into English, spot-cleaned microfilm machines and reels, and re-spooled a few reels of microfilm by hand after cleaning or repair. I also have a bit of working knowledge of the patenting process and getting documents ready for filing in other countries, which you probably aren’t going to need to know in a day-to-day library setting.
4. What learning/networking resources do you regularly use to stay up-to-date on the news and trends in your particular niche of the library field?
Most recently I’m using the USPTO weekly blast that’s sent out to inform employees of what’s going on within the organization; additionally my coworker is an author of several books about librarianship in different contexts and so I pick her brain when things outside my expertise come up. There are patent and trademark searching experts here as well who are a wealth of information about the systems we have, and their predecessors (as well as long-awaited successor systems).
5. What technology trends do you think will have the biggest impact on librarianship in the next decade?
I really hope to see RFID implemented for faster, easier checking out of books for patrons; I also think that e-books are going to continue to pick up. With traditional hard copies the library can only lend as many physical copies as are on the shelf – with e-books that changes completely, with the right licensing. Another big thing I’d love to see is for Google Books (as originally envisioned) to be brought back and given over to its full potential.