The importance of forethought

I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s had “what the frakk were they thinking?!” cross their mind in the workplace. I’ve spent the morning (and will spend the afternoon, too) cleaning up a decision that was made without really thinking about or asking what happens next. See, implementing anything in cataloging requires a certain amount of forethought. Things are changing, quite rapidly, so anything you do has to be both backwards compatible and (theoretically and to the best of your knowledge) forwards compatible. Any decision/action taken means you have to think about what impact it will have in the future in terms of accessibility and stability, staff time needed now and later, and general long term usefulness. Is it (or will it be) sustainable? And how will it be maintained and by whom? Is there a better way to provide access? These are critical things to consider when making decisions.

I’m fairly certain the decision I’m cleaning up today was not made with much forethought, if any at all. What’s worse, I couldn’t find documentation. I asked the colleagues that had been given the task once the decision was made and was told they didn’t have any concrete documentation to speak of. No complete title list. No decision statement. Essentially an ad hoc decision was made and implemented. The result? Five years later I’m having to clean it up because no plan was put in place for ongoing and future maintenance. All the work that was done has to be undone. After, of course, I find all the records involved (easier said than done).

A lot of decisions seem to be made ad hoc. This is what they want right! now!, so let’s make it happen. Never mind that in six months they’ll want something different. Or that the decision is rarely an one-time action kind of thing and will require continuous activity on the part of the staff. Or that what they want access to is volatile and probably won’t exist in six months or a year. Lately I’ve found it particularly frustrating as much of my time seems to be taken up with cleaning up these past decisions. And every problem reported regarding a past decision inevitably brings to light three more that need clean up.

Hell, at least I know I have job security. I couldn’t work my way out of a job if I tried.

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About slmcdanold

I’m learning to laugh at myself on a daily basis. I’m a librarian (cataloger) and I love it. My job involves all things metadata related in any and all formats. I have been known to cause a ruckus when necessary (aka troublesome cataloger) and make no apologies for it. I have a passion for continuing education and teaching. I’m a newbie coder (still learning). I like to cook. I’m a fan of rugby (go Australian Wallabies!) and ice hockey (go Detroit Red Wings!). I’m car-free and bike/walk a lot. I’m learning to love running one stride at a time. I own (and love) a very mouthy cat with a punk attitude and a slightly neurotic rescue mutt.
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