813 client diagnosis

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813 client diagnosis

  1. 1. Client Diagnosis and<br />Recommendation of Information Sources<br />Kathryn Patrick<br />Emporia State University<br />Client Diagnosis and Recommendation of Information Sources<br /> For my client, I chose a friend who is constantly searching for information both for personal and professional use. Because of her experience searching, and because of how well I know her, I expected little trouble interviewing her and understanding her information need; any difficulty would be in finding the sources she needed. In practice, my expectation proved correct—I was able ascertain what information she needed and to find it, but had some trouble finding supporting (or contradicting) sources. My experience is an excellent example of how practical information can be more difficult to deal with than academic, as I will discuss below. Despite the difficulty, however, I was able to provide my client with the information she needed. Additionally, I feel confident that my ability to navigate this transaction will carry over into other settings, and dealing with clients with whom I am not personally familiar.<br />In our initial interview, my client first asked me to “help [her] find out about Sanford Greenburger Associates.” Though it was what I have come to expect in most transactions, I still found it interesting that even an experienced searcher talking with a friend would first express a compromised need. I suspect that in this case, rather than being unable to express her need in clear terms, or being unwilling to share her need with me directly, it was more that she understood very well what she meant by that query and did not at first realize what further parameters I would need to be able to recognize what sources would help her. I first asked for more information about Greenburger, and discovered that Greenburger Associates is a literary agency in New York, to which my client was considering applying for representation. After I asked what she specifically wanted to know about the agency, she formulated three specific questions: who the agency represents, who publishes the books they represented, and with which agent a certain person is working--she had heard that this friend-of-a-friend (who I will call Laura) was listed as a contact for one of the agents. <br />For this information, it seemed clear to me that the agency’s website would be the place to start—it would answer her third question for certain, and would at least begin to answer the others. There, I was able to find the name of the agent Laura works with, as well as significant information about who the agency represents and the publishers they have worked with. Rather than handing the website off to my client directly, I listed the relevant information in a document to send to her along with the link. Though repackaging information was not a specific requirement of this assignment, from my interview and my knowledge of my client, I knew that providing her with an overview and the specific answers to her questions before providing more general sources would be very useful to her. At a reference desk, I would have taken that opportunity to go over the website with the client, to help her find the particular information that she needed. For another online client, I would have at least indicated what section or sections of the website were relevant, if it was impractical to specifically package the answers to their questions.<br />Finding outside information to go with this source, however, was more difficult. The databases available through the library are focused on academic papers and sources, and as I was consulting with this client online, finding books would have been little use to her. I did check the library catalog just to see, and found a few publishing books which were probably relevant; I also found a print source in Where to Find What (2000) which would have been very useful to my client if she were in a library with the book on the shelf, or the ability to bring it in via inter-library loan. For electronic resources, I had some hope for the business databases, and looked for a trade publication with relevant information, but was not able to find any articles specific enough to Greenburger Associates to be of use to my client. Dialog and the Blue Skyways were both able to turn up a few brief news articles about the agency, but none were current and substantial enough to provide my client with useful information. Searching several WilsonWeb databases and (again) Blue Skyways, I turned up a number of articles mentioning or written by Greenburger Associates agents, but again, none were substantial or related to the current work of the agency. <br />Giving up on the usual academic sources, I instead turned to specific publishing resources. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a database, like those for articles and books of all kinds, for these resources. I believe that the reason for this is the same as for many problems on the internet: the predominance of websites with little-to-no metadata over easily-described documents. Not being a part of this profession myself, I did not know what sources they turn to themselves. The closest thing to a searchable database of websites is Google, which is what I turned to at this point. Once I had sorted out the professional from the non-professional, I found Publisher’s Marketplace, which promised to have an article on Sanford Greenburger Associates, but which required a subscription fee. Finally, I found the website of Guide to Literary Agents, which is a print book with high reviews and every sign of authority. In addition to marketing the print source, the website includes an incredibly useful blog featuring advise from (and information about) various agents, including the one at Greenburger Associates whom Laura works for. I sent the brief article and interview to my client.<br />My client was very pleased with the information that I had packaged for her. It provided a basic answer to her questions, was enough information to tell her that the agency is worth pursuing, and gave her the name of the agent she was most interested in. The Guide to Literary Agents blog article provided enough additional information to feel comfortable in the choice to focus her attention on him. Also, she was excited to learn about the blog as it will likely prove a useful source for her in similar searches in the future. While she is likely to continue searching for more information, she has enough general information to form an effective search among industry sources (which, having worked in the industry, she has a much better knowledge than I), and to solicit her contacts, including Laura, for any final advice. Though personally frustrated at the difficulty of finding online sources which were not first published traditionally, I was able to find the sources my client most needed.<br />It can be difficult to find resources for a client in a field with which one is unfamiliar, especially one as close-knit and self-aware as publishing. Also, knowing the collection and resources of a certain institution is far more viable than trying to learn about every resource (or even just every database) on the internet. However, dealing with foreign topics and with the issues inherent to internet searches are important challenges—ones which I have greatly improved at facing. Also, while not every search I ran yielded results, I did not find myself floundering for the next step. If I was searching for a client in person, and were faced with a similarly non-academic topic I would likely have skipped the more unlikely databases (WilsonWeb, Emerald, and unwieldy Dialog), but that situation would also open up the possibility of print resources to take their place. It is impossible to be prepared for every question, but I feel confident in my ability to form a search strategy, and to locate resources by whatever channels are useful and available.<br />

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