Cataloging Log, Earthdates 1/28/10 and 1/29/10

     Thursday was a very very busy day. Procedures discussed late the previous day were rediscussed after we had a night’s rest, and some of us more time to think on things. Then forward we went implementing them. Like trying anything new you find some things you expect, and some things you weren’t. Much of the day seemed to be spent discovering something, discussing it with coworkers to see if they stumbled upon it too, and them addressing me with similar concerns.

     Perhaps it is due to my personality that I’m often a creature of habit and schedule. It’s so easy once as you learn the rules of cataloging to get into a groove, so to speak. You’re used to doing things in order step by step. New or different ways of doing things throws me a bit as I try to combat old habits. So I have to develop new habits, new steps to use, and adjust accordingly.

     I had my serials training, which is a group endeavor. As I expected it was good to get together and discuss the problems we each had with our periodicals. I still think it’ll take a bit of work and practice to really get the hang of them. Sometimes I understand how to do something, other times I’m trying to look up the information. Sometimes I get confused and have to ask for help. Well eventually I’ll be able to understand how to catalog these or else I’ll have serials cataloging rules memorized from re-reading them so much.

     By the end of the day I had a terrible headache. The fact that I was so busy that I didn’t have much water to drink all day probably didn’t help. It felt like someone had slipped me a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster when I was away from my desk. Between the headache and the bug I have been fighting, I just collapsed when I got home. I was completely exhausted.

     Friday was a bit better as things had settled down a bit as processes became a bit more polished, so to speak. I guess it’s kind of like someone disturbing a riverbed and all the silt gets stirred up. Over time the silt settles down again. I tried to make a concerted effort to drink more water this day and hammer down any issues that crept up.

     A nice thing about Friday was that I was able to go to a presentation of a potential library liaison. My previous position was at a small private college so we didn’t have any liaisons. I don’t recall any at my alma mater either. It’s good to get a sense of what this person has done as well as learn more about my workplace at the same time. Besides one day after I get my Masters I may be presenting like that for a position. I figure it’s best to settle back and see what I will have to do in the future.

     It was also the end of the month, a time when we turn in our monthly statistics sheet. This means spending some time counting up my hash marks, totaling them, and making sure the numbers add up. Also for me it’s a double-check to make sure all problems are off my desk and shelves and in processing. (I don’t keep anything for long, but end of the month I especially don’t want anything at all. I like to start the new month out fresh.)

     Like with Thursday, Friday had me feeling a bit run down. I spent a good deal of time playing Aion during the night just to help me unwind. I wonder if any other library workers play online RPGs, or maybe I’m a rare breed.

     Lately I’ve been having thoughts about what track I want to work on for a Masters in Library Science. Though I enjoy cataloging, I enjoy web design, wikis, blogging, social networks, etc. So some sort of web design / technology track would interest me as well. So I’m making plans to try to talk with my fellow coworkers and get their input of what kind of track they think would be good to follow, what to expect, etc.

     In other news I got word that my Nook has finally shipped. Though the Kindle had caught my eye quite a few times, I’ve been quite unhappy with them lately. Basically I’ve been taken aback ever since Amazon changed their ToS to not allow mobile software developers to use Amazon’s information in applications they create for cell phones. Amazon is a big player in the field of information/database about books, and I’m not too keen on the “we own the information” attitude. People who want to create mobile cataloging applications (such as Pocketpedia) to keep track of what you own are running against this wall of Amazon’s. (Or in Pocketpedia’s case were since they lost that battle, along with other similar application developers.) Anyway before I tangent further into that rant, let me say that I’ll try to post my experiences with the Nook. I’ve never had an e-reader before, unless you count my iPhone. So this will be an interesting experience.

     Edit: As an aside I had to enter in a comment found under this article on Slashdot because it amused me. “I, for one, welcome our new code-sharing librarian overlords.” ūüėÄ

Cataloging Log, Earthdate 1/27/10

     First of all I apologize that this post will be quite short. I woke up this morning feeling under the weather and have been on and off fighting off whatever it is I have. I took the measure of having two cups of hot green tea as well as two oranges. I’m hoping that’s enough to fight it off, at least until the weekend.

     Work was pretty typical as I described yesterday. I had a meeting with coworkers to discuss procedures. It was good to raise issues, bounce them around, ask questions, and get feedback. I also brought up some questions I had on the serial labor periodical I was working on. After some talking with the head of serials I was able to understand what I needed to know. Sometimes I get a bit lost in the jargon of the cataloging rules, and having a bit of elaboration on the rule helps me understand why something is this way and not that way.

     I also found out that it’s that time of year for annual reviews for staff to be done. (And I am staff.) As always I appreciate feedback and help to guide me to work better and learn more. At the same time it’s the time of year that always makes me anxious. No matter what job I’ve had, review time just makes me nervous. Have I worked hard enough? Are there weak areas I don’t know of that will come up and surprise me? Have I done my best work this year or are there things I need to work on? *Deep breath.* Well I think I’m working hard, and I believe in doing my best. I will find out soon enough what my supervisors think.

     Tomorrow morning I work on our department’s wiki again. This means giving myself a refresher on the coding the wiki uses. I don’t mind as I like the opportunity and experience. In fact I quite like working with technology like this.

     Also tomorrow I have a weekly serials training meeting. It will be interesting to see everyone share their work and results. I hope to learn a lot more about serials.

So that’s it for today. I hope this helps someone out there look into the life of a (copy) cataloger.

Cataloging Log, Earthdate 1/26/10

     This post continues my Day in the Life of a Library wiki contribution.

     So the morning starts out with my alarm going off at 5:15 in the morning. As I suspect many people go through, I struggle to wake myself up. Sometimes I hit the snooze, sometimes I manage to sit up for a bit. I can tell you that a warm bed with cats snoozing doesn’t help matters. The rest of the morning is the usual routine. I get up and go to my study/room down the hall, turn on lights to help myself wake up, check the weather, pick out clothes from the closet, etc. Then it’s downstairs to put together my breakfast, lunch, and snacks to see me through the day. If I’m lucky I’m finished by 6 am. Then it’s down to the car and off to work.

     I drive several miles, part back road part highway, to go to a MARTA train station. Today traffic was the usual with the same old spots where traffic builds up. The only thing different than usual was me noting on the back roads how a driver a few cars ahead of me insisted on blaring their horn once the light turned green at two lights we stopped at in a row. It’s things like this that makes me ponder that whole ‘southern hospitality’ thing. (I’m not a native of GA, I grew up in CT.)

     When I arrive at the station I notice I just missed a train headed downtown. No matter, I sit in my warm car and listen to the satellite radio I have. They’re discussing a book that was just released called “Healing Hearts: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon” by Kathy Magliato M.D.Trying to time my departure from the car right, I wait and watch the clock on the dash. Finally I semi-reluctantly get out, it was a good chat with the author, and make my way to the entrance.Fortunately my timing was perfect as not even a minute passed after I got to the platform that I saw the next train was arriving. (The platform is open to the air and elements, so you’re exposed to wind, sometimes rain, chilly weather, etc. It’s covered, but not protected on the sides.) So I get on, find a seat, and wait until the train gets to the station I need to get off at. As the train nears that stop for work I notice I’m early for work, definitely a nice surprise. Then it’s de-boarding, going up some stairs and exiting. It’s a walk across 3 streets until I reach the area of my workplace.

     After finally working my way into the building, on the right floor, and to my desk, I put down my things, turn on the PC and various electronics, and unlock storage areas. As my computer boots up I take my small book truck and go to the other book trucks of new book arrivals and load a shelf of books onto my truck. Then it’s carting it back to the desk, logging in, getting my breakfast together, and reading emails.

     Once as the morning routine is done cataloging begins. I take the first book off the truck and search for the title on the software called Voyager. The record that contains information about the book loads up. I confirm things like date, if it has an index, a bibliography, images (and what kind), etc. Then it’s going through double-checking the rest of the info is correct, like title, author(s)/editor(s), publication, pagination, good call number, etc. As stated before I fix minor changes, like correcting the pages, adding a place of publication that was missed, etc.

     The bunch of books I get actually goes fairly well. Most of the books have a 050 00 field call number. That means the call number was assigned my the Library of Congress (DLC initials on the top of the record.) This is good as we automatically accept these call numbers without having to double-check them. There are a few 050 field and 090 field call numbers that are assigned by another library, these I temporarily put aside. Books without call numbers but have subjects get put in another pile. Books that don’t have a full record, like just the title and author and publisher, get put aside in a third. The three piles are placed on my right. The farther the stack is away from me, the poorer the record is. So to clarify, I have one stack of 050 and 090 field books (non DLC), one stack of books without call numbers, and one without call numbers and subjects (or incorrect records).

     Near the end of the books I picked up I notice a problem right away. Some of the pages at the beginning are damaged. The first three or so were ripped at the top, bend backward a bit, and glued to the back of the cover of the hardcover book. The next few pages all have rips on the top. Damaged books call for a walk to Collection Development to ask them if they believe the book should be returned, or is it worthwhile to repair. In this case I was told that most likely it would be returned for a better copy.

     This is one of the things I have to watch out for as I catalog, the literal physical condition of the book. Even a newly arrived book may have rips in the pages, pages still stuck/bound together at the edges, pages that are upside down, bad printing jobs, pages out-of-order/sequence, extra pages that should have been bound in the next copy of the book, an upside down cover, etc. All of these I have seen myself during my career as a cataloger. Sometimes it’s just a shaking of the head and wondering how some of these mistakes got by inspection.

     Once I am done cataloging the DLC book records, I work on my piles. I start with the one nearest to me. I load up OCLC software and look for newer records on-line. Sometimes I’m lucky and a former book not cataloged by the Library of Congress now has been and has their call number. I download the record to an export file that will be used with Voyager, and place the book nearest to my left. Any books that do not have updated records go in a pile to the left of that. (Again books with poorer records are placed further away from me.) If a book still has a very minimal record, just title and author and publisher, I write a note on a sticky and place it on the book. These books go to my boss for complete cataloging.

     After that’s done I log off OCLC and begin working on the pile nearest to me. I return to Voyager, input the new record, and overlay it onto the old record. Again I do the usual verification of the information. If the call number is 050 00 I do not need to worry about checking it. Anything else and I have to verify the call number. I have to make sure the call number location matches the subject heading(s). Then I have to look up the call number in our local catalog. I make sure no other book has the same call number, and that the book falls at the right spot. (If the book call number is cuttered by the author, I have to make sure the authors are in alphabetical order in that area of the shelf.) Some tweaking/adding of the cutter is sometimes required to make the book fall into the correct place.

     Sometimes the call number and subject headings don’t match. Then it’s a matter of looking up the subject heading and seeing what call numbers are usually used for that subject. I find the one best suited to the book and add (or change) a 090 field with the corrected call number.

     Again that’s basically the gist and structure of my day at work. Looking up records, correcting them, cataloging them, adding holdings, adding bar codes, etc.

     By the time I get home it’s 12 hours after I left, thanks to my long commute. Then it’s unwinding, getting dinner, and of course writing this up.

     I think I’ll end this entry here. It’s getting late for me after all.

Cataloging Log, Earthdate 1/25/10

     So I stumbled upon a Twitter post about various people who work in libraries blogging about what they do. It’s being promoted as a way to see what we are each doing in our library jobs as well as show people who want to enter the field what they do. I thought this might be fun, interesting, a way to meet other library workers, and a good use of this blog.

     I’m obviously getting into this late, so I’ll use this post as an introduction.

     Ahem. Hi my name is Christine.

     “Hi Christine.”

     I’m a Library Technical Assistant at a large state college.  Now technical does not mean I work with computers. It means that I work with the technical stuff behind the scenes at the library. In my case I work with records in the library’s catalog. You know those things that tell you the book name, author(s), publisher, pagination, date, subject, call number, etc. In particular I catalog monograph books and videos. Although I am in the process of learning serials. (More about the difference at a later time perhaps.) I work full-time, and at this time I only have a Bachelor’s degree. (To become a fully fledged Librarian you need a Masters.)

     I’ve been working in a college library since, well, college. I started with a work study during a summer helping out the Library Director, shelf reading, sorting paperwork. My work caught the eye of the people in Technical Services and I was hired in the fall. I have been cataloging at college libraries ever since. Last I checked my combined experience is around 9 years. I’ve worked at 2 state colleges, and one private college. All three have been various sizes which brings its own experiences.

     As previously stated I started off learning to shelf read. This means going to the stacks, where the books are, and examining them to make sure they’re in order. If they’re not I straightened the books accordingly. Since the top shelf was pretty high this meant bringing a step stool around with me as I worked down the aisles. When my shift to read was done I logged where I left off in a binder so the next person could pick up after me.

     After that it was processing work. I put labels on books and stamped them. Sometimes I withdrew books, marking out the library stamp. At the time my alma mater still had a card catalog. So I would go and pull all cards associated with a book, and double-check to make sure other coworkers grabbed all of their cards too. Then I started working on the records themselves. I would look at the record and verify all the details matched the book I had in hand. As long as the changes were minor, meaning not needing to make a whole new record, I corrected things as I spotted them. (Wrong number of pages, forgot a place of publication, etc.) My work was checked by my boss. If everything was okay the corrected record was saved to our database. If there were mistakes my boss pointed them out to me and explained so I could do a better job next time.

     And that is basically what I do as a cataloger. I take the item in hand, look at the record, and verify the information. Then I correct any minor details. Some major ones require a whole new record to be made, and in these cases the book gets handed off to my boss. There are rules in cataloging that tell you when you need to make a new record, and when a minor change is okay on the current one. In my current job if the record is okay I export it, add a holding’s record (that tells the system where the book is located in the collection), and add an item record that contains the bar code, volume designation, pieces of the item, etc.

     A term I’ve heard used for what I do is “copy cataloging”. Basically it means you’re cataloging using a preexisting record that’s available. You’re making a copy of that record and the corrections it needs. This differs from “original cataloging” where you make the record from scratch. The later I very rarely do. For the most part those kind of items get passed off to my boss to work on.

     And I think that’s it for now. I’ll try to post more what I do day-to-day at a later time.

LibraryThing. My latest addiction.

How does one lure in a library catalog worker and make them want to use their web site and service? By creating a social networking site where you can catalog books and talk about them. And this folks has been the latest bug to bite me.

Presenting LibraryThing: www.librarything.com

As I said before you can catalog your book collection and add tags to each book. You have a variety of researches (web sites) to use to search for your book. There’s Library of Congress, Amazon, Amazon Japan, many academic libraries, etc. There are also lots of message board groups to chat it up about books.

Here’s a video of a presentation that one of the creators of LibraryThing (Tim Spalding) did about Social Cataloging and LibraryThing.¬†www.vimeo.com/7953189 This video presentation was geared to librarians, but it shows a lot of the features of LibraryThing. The whole video is under 52 minutes long, so watch it when you have the time.

You can catalog up to 200 books, I believe, for free. After that you can pay to become a monthly or lifetime member. The amount is basically up to you.

The advantage of cataloging your collection is that if you have a phone with internet access you can check your collection as you shop at bookstores. No more wondering if you already have something.

Also the site gives you both automatic and member recommendations for books. So you’ll have some ideas on what to check out next. And if that doesn’t help, search for tags that interest you and see what book titles come up.

You’ll find my profile here:¬†https://www.librarything.com/profile/ccooney and my library here¬†https://www.librarything.com/catalog/ccooney . Of course cataloging of my books will always be ongoing.

So if you’re interested, please check it out. Maybe the social cataloging bug will bite you too. Just don’t stay up cataloging and tagging books and lose sleep, especially on a night where you have to get up early to go to work the next day.