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:

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. 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: and my library here . 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.

Two Firsts Today

     So I had two Firsts in my life today, one good, one bad.

     I’ll start with the bad.

     I got into my fiance’s car this evening to go shopping for new headlights for my car since one just went out. Suddenly I felt a pain in my right leg. I rubbed it and it stopped. It happened again. I did the same thing. Then it happened again. Okay I think something is biting me on my leg. I pull up my jeans and something falls off my leg. At first I excuse it as a strange object. Then I see something small and moving across the mat on the floor. However since the mat is black I can’t tell what it is. So I keep looking. Then I notice ants on it. Then I notice them crawling all over my sneaker. Then I notice them walking up my sock. Then I notice them on my leg itself and … OW! I’m getting attacked by quite a bunch of fire ants!

     Realizing what is going on I scream out that I’m getting bitten and attacked my ants to my fiance. I quickly try to brush them off or kill them before they can bite any more. Unfortunately one gets on my left thumb and bites the top of that. I keep getting bitten as I try to swipe them off. My fiance finds a place to pull over. I open the door and continue to swat at ants on my leg and still they manage to crawl up somehow and bite me. This goes on for some minutes even after my fiance removes the mat from the car.

     Of course as this all happened I thought back to the large ant hill at the end of our yard by the street edge. I was always suspicious of it but my fiance kind of waved it off. Now I knew for sure it was a fire ant hill and somehow I had stepped on it or too close to it before getting into my fiance’s car. (Which was parked on the road.) Least to say they started this war and I’m going to finish it with a vengeance. And yes fire ant bites REALLY HURT.

     Now the good first.

     Today at work I cataloged my first original record. Actually my first FIVE original records. This is a big deal as I’ve been copy-cataloging all this time. I added new records to the online record database (OCLC). Whoooo. One step closer to being a fully fledged cataloger. I’ll be adding even more original records soon. (I’m waiting for my boss to finish reviewing my work and giving me the okay to update the holdings on them.)

Some story plots that irk me – pt. 1

1. Killing off older characters, or anyone offering help to the ‘hero.’

     First off this has become so freaking predictable. Some older person comes around an offers some grand wise advise. Moments later they are killed by a villain.

     Please stop now. Please. If your ‘hero’ must proceed on their own, find some other way to separate the characters.

     I find plots much more enjoyable when they are multi-generational.

2. Character who is old and experienced gets their butt kicked by a newbie.

     Okay. White belt meets black belt. And white belt not only easily wins but wins by a mile. Riiiight. How often do you seriously expect this to happen? Be honest now.

     You might be able to explain it off by experienced fighter being off guard. Might. You can try “my goodness and virtue trump your skill.” I might buy that. Once.

     Seriously though. Experienced people should act accordingly. People just learning a skill should stumble. Let the newbie have to work and use strategy. It makes both characters believable.

3. Arranged marriages are terrible things, and only the woman can complain about it.

     This is a two-in-one lament.

     First the perception that arranged marriages are terrible things. How awful of your parents to marry you to a complete stranger. How unloving and uncaring.

     Um in some cultures and time periods arranged marriages are/were normal and accepted. I’m willing to bet when possible the parents checked out the prospective spouse-to-bes. They just spent years supporting and loving their children. They would make sure their future spouse could take care of them.

     Now some arranged marriages were made to create or solidify a truce. Okay. But that doesn’t automatically make their spouse-to-be automatically bad.

     Second issue: only women can lament about it.

     Here’s the obvious fact. It takes two people to make a union. Both of them are having their spouse picked out by their family. Both are in the same boat.

     And yet I read about the woman lamenting on the unfairness of it all. Not the man. She cries. Not him.

     The message to the future husband must be “suck it up and be man.” And if he does lament: he’s complaining, he’s feeling sorry for himself (ignoring the fact the future bride is doing this), he’s a wimp, a baby, etc.

     Wow. What a message to send to all the men out there. Deal with it. Tough luck. Who cares how you feel.

     It gets worse when he’s portrayed with really bad personality problems. He’s cruel, controlling, abusive, harassing, alcoholic, etc. Then comes the cliché of the woman being rescued from this bad marriage by a handsome kind man. And I try not to gag.

     How about a story where both people in this arranged marriage have to deal with the uncertainty of it all? They have to learn about each other. Maybe they’re from different countries and cultures and have to learn those. They try together to make their marriage, their treaty, work. No over angsting. No handsome person to rescue them.

     There are more plot points that irk me, but I’ll just start with these.

And for Valentine’s, I got…

     My car back from the repair shop aka Dealership.

     Backing up now. A little over a month or so, I took Haku in for an oil change. It turned out my belts were cracking. The oil change place did not have them in stock. So as soon as we could, Giuliano and I took the car to Pep Boys to get the belts replaced. Now the priced they quoted on the phone turned out to be only for 1 belt. The person on the phone didn’t realize there were 2. So they kept to the price and changed them.

     A week later I started having problems turning my steering wheel. Then as I turned the wheel too far in one way or another, the belt squealed really loudly.

     Haku went back to Pep Boys, but they were already busy with repairs. I mentioned the car was getting hard to turn and the person I talked to came out to look at the car. We turned the wheel as he watched. He said that when we turned it, the pump stopped working and the belts were getting frayed. Now Giuliano had checked the belts earlier, and one seemed loose. The guy pressed on it and said it was tight enough. The mechanic said the pump or the rack was failing. However they had to order a pump. As this was right before MLK, we worried who would be open. We decided to go to Subaru, the dealership, for the repair. If it was something slightly major, we wanted a professional taking care of this car.

     My car went to Subaru on Jan 17th, and the verdict was.. the belt was loose, the pump is fine.

     Now I had noticed a noise under the hood from time to time after the belts were replaced or so. But it went away, so I couldn’t take it anywhere since they wouldn’t hear it. The noise remained, even though I had hoped it was related to the previous car problems. Then it started to happen more often and get worse. Finally it didn’t really go away.

     So I convinced Giuliano to take Haku back to Subaru and an appointment was made on Jan 30th. At first it seemed that the crankshaft was bent. Then the news got worse.. much MUCH worse.

     The bolt that held the pulley for the crankshaft got loose. The key ripped off and the end of the crankshaft got chewed up. Unfortunately by the time I heard the noise the damage was already done. The whole engine block had to be replaced. The rest of the engine was in good shape and could be rebuilt into the block.

     Subaru lent me a loaner for free, a 2006 Subaru Legacy sedan (blue), complete with a sun roof and leather interior. I enjoyed driving it a couple of times, but I spent most of the time depressed about Haku.

     Finally today I got word that my car repairs were done. The final verdict, the block was replaced with a new one, the oil pump was built into the block and was stuck so it was replaced, and the timing belt was stuck so that had to be replaced too. The repair cost just over $5,100. 🙁

     Giuliano and I came to an agreement on the repairs. I, of course, cannot afford a repair that costly. So Giuliano paid for the repairs. In turn all of my tax refund will go to Giuliano to pay him back for repairs. I’ll also most likely have to divert money to him whenever possible to continue to pay off the repairs. (Depending on how much of a refund I get.)

     So instead of a nice dinner and a nice engagement ring for 5k, I got a new engine block, oil pump, and timing belt.


     Well at least there aren’t many big repairs left now. The car should last till at least 160k or so now, I hope. Now I just have to get used to driving Haku after driving the loaner for 3 weeks.