Archive for the ‘teachmeet’ Tag

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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TeachMeet, Part Deux

I still haven’t posted properly about the Cambridge Librarian TeachMeet that we had at the end of September and it looks like I’ll never get round to it, because we’re doing serious thinking about the next TeachMeet. We hoping to hold it in the spring some time and have talked a lot about what we’d do differently, what we’d like to keep and new elements we’d like to add to the next TeachMeet. We did an evaluation of the first TeachMeet and I was pleasantly surprised by how many people responded (about three-quarters of the people who attended, which is a pretty good response by any standards). It was also extremely gratifying that so many people took time to write details responses to questions about the venue, their expectations of the TeachMeet before they attended and how it met those expectations, whether they had used any of the things they’d learned at the event. It has been a huge help to get this feedback and we’re going to try hard to incorporate a lot of it into the next version (main tip: don’t break for refreshments in the middle!).

I felt it was especially hard for me to get a real sense of how the evening had gone from the perspective of the participants because I was up at the front most of the time (just hosting/introducing/occasionally remembering to pick names out of a hat cup, the usual Bruce Forsythe type of gig but with less tap-dancing). I didn’t feel I had enough time to just talk to people and mingle (not that I’m a skilled mingler but I would have liked to try at least). I did think that overall things had gone well, the talks were well received and the post-it note questions were much more popular than I had anticipated. But we were surprised by the timing (after a few speakers dropped out at the last minute) and so our planned schedule didn’t really work out. I wasn’t happy with the ending, it kind of fizzled out early and we’d not timetabled in any discussions/q&a session or any extra time for socialising, having a drink, mingling (I’m not obsessed with mingling, honestly). That is something I’m keen to improve next time.

We’re hoping to get more people involved in planning and organising the next TeachMeet, so if you have any ideas/comments/suggestions/criticisms or just want to join us and see how we look when we’re doing “proper thinking”, then please do come along from 6pm Thursday 9th December, CB2 (which has wifi so we’ll hopefully have someone tweeting/checking twitter so you could join in virtually). Food, drink and camlibtm plotting – what could be better on a winter’s evening?

Well Wiki’d

Here we are, the final push for the summit and completion of 23 Things. And it’s wikis, possibly the Thing I have the most experience with (apart from blogging).

Earlier this year, we had a wiki within our department for staff to contribute ideas as part of a collaborative contribution to the UL’s strategic framework. We used the wiki in CamTools for this, which was easy to use and extremely effective for this form of collaborative working between almost 20 different people. It was much easier than attempting to do something by email or scheduling several meetings in person. This way, by the time we did all meet in person we had a body of work to discuss and refine together. I actually think that this wiki was better for collaborative working than using Google Docs, it was less slow and more stable. It also required no special login as we were registered on the CamTools site by our existing Raven user names and using our work emails. I would recommend the CamTools wiki function – the only problem I had was that it doesn’t seem to have a way of telling you when someone else is actively working in a document at the same time as you (or maybe I just haven’t figured this out, I can’t say I looked very hard) whereas Google Docs tells you very clearly who else is looking at the document (even though often this means they just had it open recently but are no longer actually active there).

Unlike some of the other wikis mentioned, CamTools had the advantage of being available to anyone invited (since we were all University staff) while remaining a private space, not indexed on Google or visible more publicly. A bit of privacy is sometimes a good idea when you’re working on drafts or brainstorming ideas that aren’t quite ready for public consumption yet.

Cambridge Librarian TeachMeet logo

logo by Girl in the Moon

Andy very kindly mentioned the TeachMeet – as one of the organisers of the Cambridge Librarians TeachMeet, I’ve looked at other pages on the general TeachMeet wiki pages as well as contributing to our own TeachMeet page. I’m very glad to hear other people reporting that they found it easy to use. It’s a good use for a wiki and we haven’t (as yet) had any issues with spam or malicious posting.

I looked at all the suggested links, there were some really interesting uses of wikis in the library workplace. If you haven’t read everything yet then it’s really worth taking the time to look at Antioch University’s wiki page on Staff Roles and Responsibilities or, “Rules the Man has come up with for you; the person sitting at the front desk right now”. Number 9 is “no knitting”. Not pandering to any librarian stereotypes there. And number 10 is something that one would like to this goes without saying, but obviously doesn’t.

I’ve come across the use of wikis for internal documentation before as I have a strange fascination for and interest in library documentation. I’m not sure this affliction has a name but I do like reading procedures and protocols for other libraries (and cataloguing/technical services departments in particular). It tends to be more usual for US libraries to make their intranet documentation publicly visible but I was pleased to find (via the Library Success Wiki) that Ireland are also more open with their documentation – University College Dublin has a Cataloguing wiki as do the Glucksman Library, University of Limerick (a different UL).

With a colleague, we have discussed the possible use of a wiki for our departmental documentation and we’re talking about what to do for the bigger TeachMeet we’re hoping to hold in 2011 (yep, that’s right, we’re already thinking about the next one!) and that might involve setting up our own wiki so there may well be more wikis in my professional future.

Save the date – TeachMe(et)!

A very quick post to say we had a very productive, enthusiastic and friendly meeting about arranging a TeachMeet. It all started with this blog post by Isla, over at Musings of a medical librarian where we started adding comments. Girl in the Moon quickly organised a Doodle poll and sorted out a meeting and tonight I met them both, as well as Niamh and Chris of the Lizard Lounge. It was great to take the whole Cam23 experience a step further and meet face to face – we discussed lots of Cam23 Things as well as TeachMeet-y Things. Isla did a mind map, two of us had pen failures (old school technology fail) and we came up with A Plan of sorts.

I’ll blog more about this when not so tired (look at the time, it’s past my bedtime!) but wanted to get the word out that there will be a TeachMeet for Cambridge librarians. Monday 27th September. If you think you’d like to give a 7 min talk or a 2 min nano-talk, then we’d love to hear from you. More information to follow.

In the meantime, if you’re interested, then take a look at the short description of what a Teachme(et) is on Wikipedia or have a look at all the information on the TeachMeet site, where we will hopefully have details of our event soon.

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