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Magazines > Online > July / August 2003
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Online Magazine
Vol. 27 No. 4 — July/August 2003
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Moving Offices, Reassessing Technology
By Marydee Ojala • Editor

First, the facts. The editorial office of ONLINE moved from Park City, Utah, to Indianapolis, Indiana, the beginning of May. This meant physically packing up the office and driving 1,600 miles. Many readers have undergone similar moves, both office and library, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes not. Your employer may decide to move you or you may change jobs and orchestrate the move yourself.

Welcome or not, moving brings many challenges. I've spoken with librarians who lost their entire collections to disasters—earthquakes, floods, fires, terrorist attacks—and had to start over again. This occasions a complete re-think of the nature of a library. How much of the physical collection to replace and how much should migrate to digital form? For corporate libraries in the business and finance area, the decision is a bit easier than for those requiring a significant historical collection. Older books and periodicals necessary to scientific research may not be in electronic form. They may also be out of print and difficult to replace.

When I read about what was lost from the Iraqi national library when it was looted or from the Czech Republic national library when it flooded, I realize that my move is trivial. I haven't lost anything, although I did take the opportunity to discard materials I no longer need. Moving accompanied by weeding is a blessing in disguise.

The move also prompted my reassessment of computer technology. The Internet does not help with physical packing. It will not load a moving truck or my car. Professional movers do not work by library cataloging rules. They do not group like things together. There is no metadata for physical moves. The Internet will tell me how to contact my new state government and deliver in PDF format forms I need. It will not sit for hours in the Bureau of Motor Vehicles office waiting for bureaucrats to tell me that minutiae in my driver's license application are invalid and that I need additional documentation. Who knew they'd reject a lease as proof of residence if the print was too small? Next time I'll bring a magnifying glass with me.

Indiana won't register your automobile until a police officer comes out and verifies that the vehicle identification number (VIN) on your car matches the VIN on your title document. How often do they not match? According to several police officers I spoke with, never. Plus, this is already in a national computer system. Why not just check the data? Here computer technology is being ignored. It could help, but it isn't utilized.

Connectivity is a major issue, and I'm thankful that e-mail keeps me in touch regardless of where I am. Well, sort of where I am. E-mail connections aren't a given in some parts of the rural U.S. There are no hot spots in the middle of Wyoming and dial-up speed is pathetic. Here in Indianapolis, so far I have no complaints. I'm looking forward to getting the new office completely up and running, and I'm looking forward to communicating with readers from my new digs. E-mail me at marydee@infotoday.com.


Marydee Ojala [marydee@xmission.com] is the editor of ONLINE. Comments? E-mail letters to the editor to marydee@xmission.com.

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