Archive for the ‘librarydayinthelife’ Tag

Library (Half-)Day in the Life: Wednesday

I only work part-time, so my working week finished today at 1pm.

First of all, I have never managed to write a full explanation of what it means to work in a legal deposit library, what that specifically means about our cataloguing and workflows. One of the obvious points is that we didn’t specifically request/select everything that we receive. Another is that we don’t get to refuse it, pass it on elsewhere or withdraw it from stock. Fortunately for me, John McManus is a cataloguer at Trinity College Dublin which is also a legal deposit library and he’s written a great explanation, so I don’t have to. Read it, if you’re interested in why he deals with a lot of death, depression and diets whereas life in my library is more about Jesus, kings and Loose Women. While you’re there, anyone who’s ever spent time working in cataloguing/acquisitions will appreciate his latest picture on the importance of bits of coloured paper. It brought to mind Stuart Hunt’s talk at the CIG conference last September about workflow analysis.

This morning, I finished checking some cataloguing (with a bonus that a couple which I thought needed authority work actually didn’t), did a bit of classifying, put together a series authority proposal which was approved quickly – great news as we had 18 volumes of this particular series (each with multiple volumes itself). Even better news, I was able to pass the authorised heading on to someone else who would deal with all these books.

I then spent some time revising my talk on RDA (which I gave last week), amending a detail on one slide which meant I ended up able to amalgamate the contents of two slides onto one. I then printed out all my handouts and made a start on the photocopying for the next time I give the talk, next week. I had no idea how many people might turn up last week, so had printed 60 copies of all the handouts (a list of further reading, a handout of example RDA records and the slides themselves) thinking that might well cover both talks. To my surprise (it was a good surprise but definitely took me aback), around 70 people turned up so we ran out of handouts. I’m assuming surely that most people came last time so am only doing 40 copies this time. Plus everything’s available on the intranet so it’s not the end of the world if I don’t do enough. I do about half the photocopying, using photocopy ninja skills I learned during my time as first-line-of-defence against photocopier problems in a faculty library (double-sided? wham! staple and sort? ker-pow!) but started to lose the will to live so will do the rest on Monday.

I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the tv programme Loose Women today (for any US-based readers, it’s a daytime tv show spookily similar in premise to The View). Let me explain – our allocation of cataloguing for the British National Bibliography (as explained by John above, please keep up!) is titles beginning with the letters J, K and L. I had a book called “Loose women on men”, where the author was presented as “Loose women”. Um. Is that a corporate body? My colleague had just established an authority heading for the tv series because he had “Little book of Loose Women” and “Loose women: girls’ night out” or some such on his desk. Spent a bit of time conferring with colleagues about it. Our conversation took us through Monty Python – Monty Python (Comedy troupe) – via Top Gear, the Goodies, the Mary Whitehouse experience and Blue Peter. Luckily, we ended up deciding we wouldn’t have to create a corporate body heading after all, so I was able to finish off that record before finishing work.

Just before lunch, I was asked to look at some records to try to explain why facets in LibrarySearch (our name for Aquabrowser) no longer seemed to be correctly identifying all records for e-journals. Cue some discussion of Leader/008 codes, checking whether a flip in our e-journals records to a new code for online (using o rather than s in 008/23 if anyone’s interested) had actually happened (it had). I’m not sure my input answered the question on why it’s happening, but at least I’ve left the systems librarian with what I do know about coding and how it *should* work before I disappear for the week. I really enjoy getting involved in this side of the catalogue resource discovery tool, it’s just a shame I can’t get more involved as I’m not going to be around enough this year.

Instead of heading home, I go to a lunchtime talk on social networking in academic libraries, say hello to several friends and colleagues (there’s a big turnout again) and then finish off some bits and pieces of email while keeping an eye on Twitter. I also check the details of some errors in LCSH construction reported by a colleague. Twitter provides entertainment in the form of some discussion about reclassification projects (something I’ve recently started getting a nerdy interest in, not for current work, just in general after doing a reclassification to LCC in a previous job) as well as the useful information that there is a LCSH: Husbands — Effects of wife’s employment on. We managed not to call Richard Keys or Andy Gray for comment.

As usual, I try to tie things up before I go on a Wednesday and start to shift into my out-of-work mode (mainly spent organising my eldest’s hectic social life) but still have some leftover thoughts about work even tonight. I need a better to-do list system, this much is clear, and when I have one I will add to it some thoughts about macros (something I’ve been wanting to investigate further for some time) and follow up on something mentioned to me on Twitter (in response to the paper slips picture mentioned above). Oh and some random thoughts about the TeachMeet. But now, I’m heading to bed early to read something recreational… oh, that’s right I’m reading this. About a librarian. Er…..


Library Day in the Life: Tuesday

I’m really much too tired to be writing this now but I know if I don’t do it tonight, I’ll never catch up. Since I’m in no fit state for proper composition, I’m going to do today in bullet points.

  • The Pile of Doom was diminished this morning – in the way of cataloguing magic, a couple of the multivolume sets were less complicated once I’d shown them to a colleague, the looseleaf integrating resource turned out not to be a problem at all and I checked off the DVD-video training pack, doing an authority proposal for it
  • More classifying, here and there throughout the day to keep moving through the stuff awaiting classification
  • On a visit to the Legal Deposit department (to return a book which turned out to be a duplicate), I see the enormous number of boxes of books they are currently unpacking. They tell me that’s only half of what arrived. You can hardly see round the room for the stacks of boxes and all the shelves are full. Hurry back to my desk and take some more classifying to make more shelf space for what is coming our way…
  • Mid-morning meeting, regular weekly catch-up with the staff who deal with looseleaf material and continuations (which currently fall outside the normal workflows of the department for one reason or another). I apologise for being focused on RDA in the last few weeks and promise full attention next month. We set out some medium term goals and talk about where we’d like to be by the time I go on maternity leave.
  • Am asked a question about cataloguing remote databases, so refresh my memory of some work I did on this (turns out it was in 2007). Cataloguing for these databases is currently the responsibility of Electronic Systems & Services division though I think there’s a case for us having someone more involved – I can’t volunteer though as I’m not going to be around much this year
  • Lunchtime – bump into a couple of the TeachMeet organising team who are coming into the library for lunch so sit and have a lovely chat with them about the bookings yesterday, what next and the need for cake next time we all meet.
  • Weekly meeting with member of staff I am training. She shows me the questions/queries/comments she has from what she’s been working on. We talk about 246 use for portion of title, exhibition catalogues, multiple statements of responsibility and language codes in 041/008. It’s a short meeting as she’s doing well. I still need to give her records a final proofread back at my desk then classify and send for binding as needed. There are a few which need authority work so I leave those for tomorrow.
  • Afternoon meeting with the language specialist staff of the European Cataloguing department to talk through the workflow changes we have made in English Cataloguing. This is seriously one of my favourite topics. It’s really good to talk through what we did, how we went about it and why, what it achieved, the issues it raised. Their own workflows, types of material and priorities differ from ours (they don’t have legal deposit material which is an enormous difference) but I hope there will be something in what I’m describing that’s useful to them. There will be issues specific to each language that will be different to what we faced with English-language material. It’s a really positive meeting – they listen very politely to me talking about workflow, ask some questions, nobody falls asleep. I hope they got some ideas – we talk about the need to look at quick wins, the importance of good news stories in cataloguing (where so much can be about what we haven’t managed to do, the backlogs, the increased rate of material coming in). I think it’s important that we’re all actively looking at our cataloguing workflows with a critical eye. I follow up the meeting by emailing some further information I didn’t have to hand and clarifying how to limit a search in OCLC to just PCC records (one of the things I talked about). I’m tired, and I still managed to write quite a lot about workflow – thank goodness for everyone’s sake I don’t have the energy to write more.
  • Oh and I also had cake as it was someone’s birthday in the department today. A good day.

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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