Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blind Spots

Everybody knows what a "blind spot" is. You learned about "blind spots" when you took driver's education. For some of us, that was a long time ago.

Let me refresh your memory. A "blind spot" is that place next to your car you can't see directly or with your mirrors. Generally, the blind spot is over one of your shoulders. Installing a "fish-eye" mirror, one of those little round disc mirrors attached to a regular mirror, usually helps. The problem comes in training, or re-training, your eyes to see objects in those little round things fixed to a slightly larger rectangular thing. All of this on a vehicle moving pretty darn fast while you juggle the radio, coffee, your hands-free cell phone, while trying to not hit something or get hit by something.

Some of us multi-task better than others. The older you grow, the more experience you gain, you either increase your ability to multi-task or lose what ability you had.

Everybody has blind spots in their lives. Unlike driving a car, we can live in unconcerned ignorance of our blind spots because they don't contain heavy vehicles moving faster than we are. You have to look metaphorically over your shoulder to see what's in you blind spot.

There are at least two major issues with which we need to deal. First, training ourselves to look over our shoulders and actually acknowledge what's there. Second, responding correctly, or reasonably, to what ever it is occupying our blind spot. Of course, once you know you have a blind spot and check it regularly it ceases being one.

So what does this have to do with Libraries, you ask? Or any business, for that matter? We do not work in a vacuum. We need each other. Our best resource for information is the person with whom we work. There is not one person who knows everything, though I do know some who wishfully think they are omniscient. The best Libraries are those where everyone works together, combining their experience and expertise to build a collection, and infuse knowledge of that collection into those who use it.

When one function is separated from another blind spots grow. So do holes in the collection.

I guess I need to talk about being "blind-sided" next.

Gerald F. Ward

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