File Under: Alternate LIS Careers

Those of you who attended the ASIS&T meeting last night (thank you!) know that we are thinking a lot lately about alternate careers for LIS professionals. This is an especially big topic right now, as so many of us head out into what seems to be a very chaotic job market. As our fearless leader, Denise, said at one of our meetings this past week, we can apply our skills to anything. Including…

baseball!

I was filled with excitement when I read an article in yesterday’s New York Times about baseball archivists. Granted, I am a nerd for baseball stats. Even still, I think this has interesting implications for on-demand data capturing and the avenues for information retrieval this type of venture represents.

The MLB is a very forward thinking organization when it comes to information, I find. I’ve been using the MLB At Bat app for my iPhone since the beginning of this season, and the currency of the data they present and the way that they present it (a pitch-by-pitch visualization for each batter is close to live!) is truly incredible. I do not see similar apps for football, for example, despite that football is also a very data heavy sport.

I really appreciate the level of specificity you can find in baseball statistics. Stats are compiled on several fronts, like player, team, player vs. player, team vs. team, standings per league, standings per division, standings per conference… I could go on and on.

To think that this now applies to video retrieval is pretty wild. As the article mentions, this represents a pretty solid shift in the way those who need data on baseball are able to find it. Used to be you’d have to locate a video in a massive collection, rewind and fast forward and all that stuff, and maybe you’d come up with the clip you need. Multiple that process by ten or fifteen if you’re looking for trends. These days, one can access digital clips that are tagged in such a way that you can enter search terms and instantly find the info you need.

While this is all pretty revolutionary, I think this sets a level of expectation for information hunters and gatherers. Inevitably, this will push the state of the art in information services as well. While this can be scary – after all, the MLB is rich and which libraries do you know have the resources to pay for this level of technology? – I think the applications this has to performing arts or any live action event  is pretty neat!

An example for you. As a one time wanna be professional French horn player, how much would I have loved to pull up audio clips or even video of my favorite horn players? I can say with 100% certainty that I would have used that kind of resource all. the. time. Another less nerdy example might be video of Radiohead concerts. How neat would it be to delve into the evolution of texture and sound that went into In Rainbows, which by all accounts came together on the road?

All hypotheticals, for sure, but thinking about this gives me lots of hope for the future of information work, and the variety of opportunities that may yet be out there.

(Davis Erin Anderson, VP, ASIS&T @ Pratt)

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