Library Day in the Life: Monday

This is my first post for the Library Day in the Life project, now on Round 6, where librarians record what they do to give an insight into what library work involves. I work as a cataloguer in a legal deposit and university library in the UK.

I work part-time so haven’t been in the library since Wednesday lunchtime last week. Mondays are therefore always a bit of a catch-up day: catch up on emails, catch up on the piles of books and AV material left on my desk in my absence (I’m sure some people wait until my back’s turned!) and catch up on how things have been going since I was last in the office.

On a Monday, I take a bit of time to look at the shelves of books to see how things have been moving, whether work is building up in one area, how many books have been dealt with out of another, how quickly things are being processed and so on. Especially so this morning as it’s technically “changeover day” – the staff of the English Cataloguing department work on a 3 week cycle (3 weeks in a team working on urgent material of various types, 3 weeks in a team working on various “fast track” procedures, dealing with books by finding records according to various predefined workflows and dealing with the various offshoots of that work). I usually send out an email to cataloguers moving back onto the Fast Track team on the Monday of “changeover”, so like to know where we stand with various categories of material for their work during that cycle. However, we had to reshuffle things last week to respond to problems of a lot of staff leave and unexpected absence over the weeks before and after Christmas and also in anticipation of an exceptionally large delivery of books from the Legal Deposit Agency (more on this another day). We’ve basically had to throw all our cataloguing and classifying might in the direction of most need, so we’re not doing a normal changeover. A brief, impromptu meeting with the head of department and we settle on a strategy and email the rest of the staff to let them know how we’re proceeding during this cycle. We’ll be keeping an eye on the workflow and how things are moving over the course of the weeks though.

I then plough through piles of books that have appeared on my desk: mainly books returned from the bindery or from lyfguarding which I’ve already classified, so I just need to complete the holdings records and pass them on to the processing staff for final classmark and labelling. I also have a couple of piles of books to check that have been catalogued by a member of staff in another department who has been having cataloguing training with me: she’s learning fast but I still need to proofread and check each record, make classification decisions and, in a few cases, I need to propose new authorised forms for headings (mainly personal names, but one Sri Lankan series and one subject heading for a Canadian lake). The authority work is the most time-consuming part of this work.

The staff reference copy of Chris Oliver’s Introducing RDA has also appeared on my desk, but I have to put it to one side so I can ask a colleague how we go about dealing with staff reference copies (we have a small reference collection in the main cataloguing office and we thought a copy of Oliver’s book for this collection was a wise move since the library’s borrowable copy has been on loan non-stop and has now disappeared). I add this to a pile which also includes some problematic items that I’ve decided to come back to (this is the Law of the Magic Cataloguing Trolley which I might explain later in the week but is known to all good cataloguers). This pile is a little bit large now, so will have to tackle it tomorrow. I work on lots of non-book formats or non-standard material so the Pile of Doom includes some tricky multivolume sets (yes we have vols. IV.1 and IV.2 from the 1980s and now we’ve received vols. I, II.1-2, III.1  of a “new edition”, sigh). There’s also a DVD-ROM of video tutorials with accompanying book (where I know from talking to her that the cataloguer has made the right decision about how to handle it but which still needs me to proofread) and a looseleaf integrating resource which has changed title and binder size, so will need a new classmark (our in-house classification is organised by height), as well as a reminder for me of dealing with change of title in integrating resources (247 field anyone?). See, definitely needed to all go on the Magic Trolley.

My day is slightly unusual in that today was the day we opened bookings for the second Cambridge Librarian TeachMeet. It’s not part of my official job but the whole organising team has been working on this over the last few days, it’s amazing how we pulled it all together since our planning meeting on Tuesday last week. So I send out the announcement on my designated mailing list. Over my lunch hour, I spend a bit of time tweeting, checking camlibtm emails and marvelling at how quickly places fill up – within 2 and half hours of announcing that booking was open we have 44 people signed up out of a maximum of 60. We’re actually full as I write this, which is overwhelming actually – we hoped it would be popular but we had no idea how quickly people would want to join in. We’ve made a big effort this time to try to reach a wider audience than just staff in the libraries of Cambridge University so we’re really pleased with the mix of people signed up. Now we get to test Eventbrite’s waiting list system.

My afternoon is more of the same, dealing with questions from cataloguers on various issues, doing some classification/binding decisions (as the books to be classified are building up and are now our priority task). We found 3 unsuppressed RDA records in the database so I spend some time tracking down where they came from (OCLC) and what was done to them by local cataloguers (not enough to make them not be RDA records any more). I then email the findings to other staff who are due to meet next week as part of our regular RDA meetings. When we met before Christmas, we decided to keep an eye on RDA records appearing from other sources and we are probably now at the point where we need to draft guidelines for staff on what to do with RDA records when copy cataloguing. This will be discussed next week. It’s good timing, in a way, as I’ve just done an introductory talk on the changes from AACR2 to RDA to all staff (and will be giving it again next week) so everyone should at least have a basic awareness of what we’re dealing with now.

Finally, I follow up with a colleague in another department about having an informal meeting to discuss the workflow and procedures we’ve been trialling and implementing in the  English Cataloguing department. This is a topic dear to my heart, so I draft some notes and print off some of our documentation and we agree a meeting for tomorrow afternoon. More about that tomorrow no doubt.

 

yum yum

It’s surprisingly hard to sum up a day’s work, especially with cataloguing where I feel I should explain more about what we do and why we do it. Hopefully I’ll do a better job tomorrow. However, I feel the Cambridge Librarian TeachMeet is a big enough achievement for me to think I’ve had A Good Day. Even if I had to do it without any Worcestershire sauce French Fries . And even if nobody delivered cake to me.

 

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5 comments so far

  1. Girl in the Moon on

    I’m astonished by the TeachMeet take-up, to the point of feeling bad about those people who’ll think they’re signing up early if they check the website tomorrow, only to find out it’s a waiting list already… Lovely post, this – it’s nice to see the nitty-gritty of what other people do. I’m alarmed to learn that you have a 3-week timetable, given what I know of Weeks 1-8 governing other parts of UL life!

    Katie

  2. Céline on

    Weeks 1-8 barely get noticed with us, much less important to rhythm of life here than it is in most Cambridge libraries in my experience. Stuff never stops arriving (Legal Deposit) so we never stop either 🙂

    Agreed on TeachMeet, wish we had more space as it’s quite incredible to fill up less than a day.

  3. Girl in the Moon on

    Oh, I didn’t mean *those* weeks 1-8, I was thinking of Saturday rotas. Aren’t they on an 8 week cycle? Or did I dream that?

  4. Celine on

    Ah, yes very true, sorry (obviously don’t listen to my advice about working here!)

  5. msyingling on

    I’ve always wanted to visit Cambridge, so allowing me to do so without the lengthy air travel time!


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