I love Sherlock Holmes. I have read all the novels and short stories, seen almost every movie (maybe missed a couple of Basil Rathbone entries), and really like Benedict Cumberbatch’s modern turn on the detective. And THAT is the operative word.
I am a detective of many things. I find obscure articles from obscure journals and even more obscure conferences. I locate publishers who have gone on to other existences or just went out like a candle flame. I can track a Russian publisher through its various name changes when I don’t know the language and still find the object of my hunt. I dig large holes to find little things, but those little things are important links in a chain of research and knowledge.
Working in Interlibrary Loan was a natural step from having worked in Cataloging, Public Service, and Acquisitions. I knew cataloging metadata well enough that I could search in WorldCat to find the right book, right translation, right journal so that I could order the book, the report, the article that our patron needed. I read well enough in a foreign language to know if I was on the right track or if I needed to look elsewhere. Dates, volume numbers, places of origin, these can all point to the publication that the researcher requests.
Although I rarely have to use the cataloging metadata to locate items in the Digital Repository, the skills in sleuthing still come into play almost every day. Finding permission to publish a journal article or a book chapter is usually fairly easy. We in the DR are familiar with most of the publishers and what the publishers will allow. However, there are a number of publishers that allow publication, but finding a copy of the item requires detective work. Another good situation that requires looking deep into search engines is when the publisher has changed hands or the conference has a new committee every year and you just need that one person to give permission. Finesse. Like a good game of bridge.
Hunting for items, hunting for permissions, it’s a game in many ways but it is important in how it affects the world. If my search finds the right article for another researcher and leads to newer knowledge, then what I do is successful.
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