Interviews with Infopros: Sarah Warner

Article excerpt

The information world inhabited by librarians is changing dramatically and quickly-and librarians are keeping up with it. With this issue, ONLINE begins an occasional series of interviews with various information professionals who are doing interesting things to expand their careers, the information professions, and the industry. The first interview, with Sarah Warner of Amulet, in Acton, Massachusetts, was conducted by Connecticut-based Melissa Everett; they communicated by telephone and email. -Susanne Bjorner

ONLINE: Sarah, you're Manager of Content Licensing for Amulet, What does Amulet do?

Warner: Amulet provides the Internet-based information service called InfoWizard. InfoWizard (http://www.infowizard.com) is an automated research service for people in the information technology marketplace that gets you in-depth information on demand by scouring 1,500 trusted online sources and thousands of Web sites-lessening the time wasted in browsing the Web and online databases. Dan Cerutti (CEO) and Larry Floryan (Vice President of Engineering) founded Amulet, a venture-backed private company, in 1994, with a mission of making it easy for professionals to get the information they need when they need it.

Amulet sought me out for my expertise as a professional searcher, my knowledge of high technology and business information sources, and my industry contacts. My experience has been invaluable in the fast-paced world of the Internet.

ONLINE: Tell us a little about your past experience.

Warner: I've worked as both a cataloger of serials and reference librarian at the Engineering Societies Library, a not-for-profit institution, which was at the time the largest engineering library in the world.

I also was manager of the Information Center at Parson Brinckerhoff (PB), a major international architectural/engineering consulting firm in New York City. There, I developed a grounding in business planning, budgets, and cost management.

In 1983, I moved to Wang Laboratories to manage and grow its information center. I introduced new technologies to enhance the productivity of information flow. I designed and implemented an integrated online catalog on Wang's worldwide corporate network, delivered reference and research for a variety of library customers, from R&D to marketing and sales executives, and worked closely with the computer industry analysts to investigate and publish competitive analysis reports. In addition, I was very involved in collection development-identifying the most appropriate sources, particularly in information technology and business content.

ONLINE: What did you learn as cataloger of serials and reference librarian at the Engineering Societies Library?

Warner: I gained a thorough knowledge and familiarity with engineering literature, learned how to conduct a reference interview, and gained a healthy respect for the value of detailed, well-structured organization of information for efficient retrieval.

At ESL, I had the world of engineering information at my fingertips. I worked in the middle of the largest engineering information repository in the world. We rarely had to go outside our own domain to get information for our patrons. The knowledge of content that I gained as a cataloger was critical to my success as a reference librarian. I learned how to ask the right questions during the reference interview by understanding the patrons' needs.

As a cataloger, I concentrated on both original and copy cataloging; I did not need to focus on manpower projections, budgeting, or, in the 1970s, applications of computer technology. I focused on the single task of maintaining the serials cataloging records and being responsible for the original cataloging of newly acquired journals. Because ESL had one of the finest information classification schemes, based on the Universal Decimal Classification system, I learned the value of complex information cataloging and classification and how best to structure and locate information in a timely and efficient manner. …