Working in the dark. Troubleshooting other systems without actual access to the systems themselves. I have no idea who does my sort of thing at most other vendors. I work in a bubble…or a cage as folk like to joke :-) I’m sort of expected to know, or at least to troubleshoot, every library system in the known universe. I cover all tiers of libraries and people from non tech libraries to IT staff – and somehow I need to be able to have a conversation with them all, if only to resolve their problems. As a friend at SLNSW would comment, I’m bilingual: I can talk librarian and IT. Though amusingly, all my IT friends don’t see me as IT whereas all my library friends do. That says something about the broader continuum of tech and where various folk see themselves and see others.
In my cage, I don’t know, for the most part, who does my sort of thang at other vendors. I go to conferences and primarily see sales reps and librarians. I rarely come across the support folk, the people like me. For some vendors, that person is in another country, but there are others who are local too. Within my company it’s much the same, except that the folk who do what I do are spread across the world: Singapore, Tokyo, India, UK, Mexico and of course the main teams in the US office.
The downside of working for a vendor is that I miss the bigger picture of what’s happening in library databaseland. I don’t have access to their wares, nor what they’re doing…beyond press releases and comments here and there. That may well be a good thing. Sometimes I have customers say to me “vendor X does this but you don’t…why?” and I don’t really know. Different vendors have different approaches as well as trying to support recognised protocols (eg OpenURL, z39.50). There are different corporate structures, technology bases, and they’ve each got to where they are via their own paths. My vendor was (and is) a print publisher of directories and encyclopedias and they made the jump online many years ago. They transitioned from being a print publisher to the online world whereas other vendors started out in this space.
Prior to this job I held a couple of roles at the State Library of NSW in training and support. I got to travel all over NSW, teaching librarians how to search online and more specifically how to search some of the databases they had access to. Scared the daylights out of me at first, but I grew into it…and loved it. Loved the training and loved the travel and got to most of the State one way or another, though I missed a few and never made it to Bourke alas. Whereas my current job has mostly been city based but it has got me to several parts of the country though not to WA or Tasmania as yet. On the other hand, it has got me to New Zealand several times and I’ve managed to travel there a fair bit too.