The Evolution of a Researcher.
Today we think of a researcher as a stationary professional: someone who sits in front of a computer, shifting and analyzing information. But in the beginning we were travelers.
In the beginning research at Access/Information actually involved driving, and lots of it, throughout the metro area retrieving and delivering information. Our regular pit stops included libraries, archives, courthouses, research facilities, government agencies, and clients. Business was conducted either face-to-face or via the phone. We routinely consulted our pagers for additional requests, stopping frequently to find a payphone. Remember those?
I joined Access/Information in February 1993, having previously worked for a German knife company. I knew nothing about libraries or the American legal system. My first day on the job was spent alone as my co-workers were scattered throughout the city on assignments. I surveyed the main office, our “command center.” It was essentially a large room with two desks in the middle: to the left a Pioneer computer and to the right a fax machine.
The fax machine suddenly came to life, spitting out a “rush request” for a journal article. Not knowing what to do, I started calling libraries listed in a directory I found on one of the desks. When I located the journal at the Denver Public Library, I had no idea how to get there (no Google maps in those days). Armed with directions, from my sister-in-law, I was able to deliver the article to the happy client and the day was saved! In the process, a natural researcher was born.
As technology evolved and business cycles accelerated, Access/Information changed dramatically. With the Internet and a myriad of databases at our disposal, most of our retrieval time is now spent identifying, summarizing, and analyzing the pertinent information amid the massive volume of data out there. Naturally, my role within the company has also changed. I have had to adapt and consequently have worn many different hats: office manager, project coordinator, and database researcher to name a few. Additionally, my German background and knowledge of other languages has helped me operate in a global arena.
While the delivery and pace of our business has changed dramatically, I still find it exhilarating. Research still demands critical thinking, the ability to quickly grasp a client’s needs, the ability to navigate databases (or roads) with ease, and composure under fire (especially when meeting tight deadlines).