Skills for Today and Tomorrow: Search

  • July 19, 2009
  • Scott

Alex Schleber has a great post on why learning to Search is so important in the 21st Century.  He makes some great points in support of his argument that you need to be an expert in search to be more efficient and effective going forward, and then he offers some great search “tricks” to improve your results.

The fact that search is crucial is no mystery to me, though I can’t really take credit for that insight.  My mother, before she retired, was a Reference Librarian for the Medical library at the University of Florida’s Medical School / Shands Hospital.  She transformed her technology profile and skillset by focusing on search, which was the most useful thing a reference librarian could be good at after all.  She persistently taught herself how to do LexisNexis searches, Medline Searches, etc.  And then she began teaching classes to other library staff and medical students so that they would know how to perform extensive medical research queries.  During the ’90s, reference terminals were becoming increasingly available for students and doctors to perform their own searches.

I got my first summer job as a research assistant for a doctor doing endocrinology research at Shands. I was still in highschool, but I knew how to do reference searches, and my mother taught me a few tricks for narrowing searches once I found a good article to use as a reference.  I learned how to require terms, exclude terms, etc.  And I got the job largely on the strength of my ability to search (is it any wonder that when you were asked to find this background source material, it is called “research”?).

As the total volume of information increases, being able to perform effective searches only becomes more important.  It isn’t just the information on the Internet, which is problem enough for searching.  It is our own personal information that, for most of us, has exploded in volume.  But finding that emailed receipt, that account statement, the important message from your boss, or the report you were working on last year all gets harder without good use of Search.

So, BPM practitioners.  Add Search on your list of skills for today and tomorrow, right next to “BPM”.

(And if you haven’t added Alex’s blog to your reader, you should)

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