Magazine article Information Today

24 Years (but Who's Counting?)

Magazine article Information Today

24 Years (but Who's Counting?)

Article excerpt

On my first day at Learned Information in May 1986, I knew my new job as advertising and marketing assistant would open up a whole new world for me.

The first half of each day was allotted to helping marketing director Jacqueline "Jay" Trolley with her projects. I typed letters (often I typed each one several times, since I wasn't exactly a Kelly Girl), I filed (but only when the "file" bin grew so high it was in danger of toppling over), and I looked for "dings" (publishing lingo for galley defects) in printer proofs. After lunch, I changed into my advertising hat and worked for Mike Zarrello. This involved still more typing and invoicing companies that were advertising in Information Today (IT) and Link-Up (LU) or promotions for the National Online Meeting (NOM). For the entire day, I also was the "branch office" receptionist, answering incoming phone calls for the staff.

A 'Defining' Moment

Trolley knew that I wanted to do more than answer phones, type, and file, so she started giving me projects. One of the first was coordinating the findings from a Link-Up readers' survey. I did so well that it wasn't long before I took over a book project from Kay Powell and became an in-house editor for Plexus Publishing, Inc. (sister company to Learned Information and publishers of Biology Digest). Little did I know that this book would literally turn into a 10-year odyssey.

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By the time the opus I was working on was finally published, A Dictionary of Natural Products had evolved into a 994-page epic that listed and defined terms within the field of pharmacognosy (the study of medicines derived from natural sources, according to Wikipedia) relating to natural crude drugs from vegetable, animal, and mineral sources. Author George M. Hocking, a retired professor of pharmacognosy who was well-known and respected in his field, never found a term he didn't like. Every time I thought a chapter was complete, he'd send along a package with 50 more terms that I would have to input into the computer. Although some of the entries he submitted were typed, many were handwritten, and his notes were hard to decipher (Hocking was in his 80s at the time), not to mention the fact that 90% of the terms were still Greek (sometimes literally) to me. On the day the dictionary was packed up and shipped to the printer, my co-workers helped me dance a celebratory jig around the office.

Then in May 1988, Trolley took a job at the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in Philadelphia, and I became a marketing assistant without anyone to assist for quite a while. But little by little, I started doing other jobs. I continued to help with marking projects such as the spring and fall catalogs; I also started working with Carol Nixon on NOM-related tasks, including work compiling the subject index for the NOM proceedings.

Proof or Dare

But my editorial repertoire was far from complete. When Pat Lane took over as editor of IT, she appointed me an editorial assistant, and before long, I also became production coordinator for LU. Soon I was learning about the fast-paced world of newspaper publishing. Each month, I watched Lane at her desk as she wielded a ruler and T-square with precision, laying down typeset galleys on empty, gridlined pages. …

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