Library Day in the Life – Day 1

So I’m going to see if I can actually manage to do this:

I’m slightly afraid as to what my days will look like all delineated out as it may reveal the complete disorganization my days and weeks frequently consist of. Not to mention this week is a “meeting-lite” week and my boss is on vacation so it’s a bit out of the ordinary. Oh well, here goes!

Monday, July 27th, 2009

6am: Wake up. Curse humidity (hello typical humid Philly summer, sarcasm nice for you to have decided to visit us this year /sarcasm). Shower, breakfast, prepare lunch and thermos of coffee, give cat small amount of milk as treat and appeasement for the upcoming daily abandonment. Take trolley to work instead of bike so I can run by Trader Joe’s after work.

8am: Arrive and login to work network. Login to email, calendar, other various and sundry programs. Open up Voyager cataloging and acquisitions modules and OCLC Connexion. Drink coffee. Make to-do list.

8:20am-9:30am: Read email. Forward and respond to necessary messages. Scan subjects and then delete mass numbers of listserv messages.

8:00ish and again at 9:15ish: Check-in/chat with staff. One works 7am-2:30pm and the other 9:15am-5:15pm. I work 8am-4pm (OK…I never leave at 4pm, usually 4:30 or 5pm) to overlap as much as possible with both of them.

9:20am: Yogurt and granola snack while finishing the email listserv scan. Find something interesting to forward to other librarians at my institution. Also forward a job posting to my intern.

9:30am: Begin analysis of various purchased sets of MARC records for electronic resources. All record sets must be analyzed before loading them into our catalog to make sure that a) we’re getting what we’re supposed to/paid for and b) they won’t make the catalog blow up. Typical problems include: URL issues (incorrect or missing URLs – gah!), MARC coding validation issues (I love finding seriously legacy MARC coding in record sets from vendors. Sorry…that field is no longer valid. Try again.), and authority headings validation issues.

Create detailed list of notes for each set, including, but not limited to, determining an unique alphanumeric code to find the set easily in our 4-million-records-plus catalog in the future (for maintenance or deletion if needed), and the various and sundry edits and changes that need to happen so the records won’t make said catalog explode. Detailed list then goes to our metadata person who writes a nice PERL script to fix all the problems and then loads the records into our development catalog to check for additional problems (like inadvertent overlaying of existing records – which is BAD).

Complete analysis of one new record set (1657 records) and begin the next set’s analysis.

11:15am: Check in with staff again. Hear about one staff person’s cruise last week (see pictures – jealous!) and other staff person’s long weekend road trip.

11:40am: Brief email exchange with colleague at another institution about the deadline for my ALA reports for publication. Update Remember the Milk with deadline to remind myself. Also answer serials cataloging question for colleague in same series of emails.

11:45am: Update public-access spreadsheet detailing which records sets we’ve purchased and their status in the loading process. Will upload spreadsheet to internal staffweb page at the end of the day.

11:50am: Check in with intern via chat. Review job opening post forwarded earlier and upcoming week’s activities. More original serials cataloging records to review; verified that latest round of titles in online series have been cataloged (no record set available so have to catalog by hand in response to alerts…boo!).

Noon: Figured out ugly analyzed series issue/question (old series and new unrelated series given same call number) given to me by staff. Luckily, this is not my responsibility as I don’t have to deal with analyzed series, only serials. Forwarded email with information explaining problem to appropriate individual. (I do love being able to pass problems on!)

12:15pm: Take lunchtime walk to clear head and find more caffeine. Return with Pepsi. Lunch: tuna, potato, and green bean salad, with apricots and blueberries for dessert. Yum!

1pm: Lunch over. Back to record sets. Complete analysis of second record set (210 records). Easy sets done. One more massively-complicated mess to go (reserving it for tomorrow).

2:00pm: Fill out and email the order form to [company] requesting a copy of all the MARC records for our institution’s dissertations going all the way back to 1945 that we’ve contributed to the database. Hoo boy that’s gonna be a BIG file (over 22,000 records!). Send email to address given on order form instructions. Less than 5 minutes after sending, receive confirmation email of receipt (good), followed by email saying my email will be directed to someone better able to assist me (huh?). OK, they why not put *that* email on the order form?

2:10pm: Serials librarian stops by with a title that has no publication information in our system. Inquires if it’s a good candidate for the repeatable 260 option (available after the Aug. MARC update by OCLC). Check OCLC. Publication information in OCLC record in a 260 and 500 note combo. So no, not a good candidate (not going to go back and edit all previously valid 260/5xx publication info combinations…not enough time in the world to update records every time new options/rules are implemented). Instead, update our local record with fuller and current OCLC record. One less legacy-non-current serial bib on our system!!

[Note: unfortunate history of lack of serial bibliographic record maintenance here for nearly 10 years prior to my arrival means every time we touch a serial bib we update it with the current CONSER record…it’s an ongoing battle to bring the records in our catalog up to date.]

2:15pm: Break. Catch up on a few feeds and social networking sites. Read email, comics (needed mental break!).

2:30pm: Serials librarian and I play hot potato with an email dealing with a gift serial run for a title we already own (the branch library wants to replace certain volumes depending on condition). Determine that because it’s a gift and replace/add for a title we already own and have cataloged, it doesn’t belong to either one of us. Serials librarian forwards email to appropriate individual(s).

2:45pm: Given random publication to determine if should be cataloged as a serial or as a monograph by colleague from monograph cataloging department. Library of Congress cataloged it as a monograph (brief record). Foreword says “hope to be the first edition” but no evidence of subsequent editions published after an online search. Determine that without any indication on website of organization and without anything other than “hope” statement, best to catalog as monograph for now (can re-cat later as serial if additional editions are actually published). Return the publication to colleague for needed record enhancement.

3:00pm: Begin reviewing stack of intern’s original serial cataloging records. Mark up with red pen. [Honestly, not too much mark up needed, she’s learned a lot. 🙂 ] Will definitely have to finish these tomorrow (it’s a BIG stack…she’s been very productive!).

4:00pm: Clean up messy merge to de-duplicate several serial bibliographic records in our catalog. Both an earlier title and a later title, the later of which had three bibs that needed to be collapsed, complete with moving of other records linked to the bib record, and then updating the bib with current cataloging.

[Did I mention that in addition to serial bibliographic records not being updated, when various catalogs were merged into one catalog they weren’t de-duplicated in the process so in some cases we have 4 bibliographic records in our system for the print version of one single title? Yeah. Good times.]

During my daily activities, I also field periodic interruptions from my staff, additional interruptions from colleagues, and checking of email and TweetDeck. Multi-tasking FTW! Also, generally this defines my slightly ADD way of functioning/working (some days it disintegrates into that continuous partial attention thing instead…those are bad days).

4:35pm: Upload updated spreadsheet to internal staffweb pages. Last review of email and deletion of various listserv messages. Log off of various and sundry programs. Shut down (restart) computer. Leave work and head to Trader Joe’s in Center City via trolley.

5:50pm: Arrived home with grocery goods. Put roasted peach ice cream mix (made day before and chilled overnight) in ice cream mixer bowl. Twenty minutes later, rewarded myself with a semi-frozen sample while packing rest into containers for freezer. Mmmm…tasty! Now that’s an end of day treat!!


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.
This entry was posted in cataloging, librarianship, librarydayinthelife, work. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Library Day in the Life – Day 1

  1. Bobbi Newman says:

    ok I completely lost focus on all the library stuff when you mentioned roasted peach ice cream. 🙂 you made it? would you be willing to share the recipe? if so, please email me – bobbi.newman at

  2. Shana Lee says:

    The recipe came from the blog Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy.Roasted Peach Ice Cream:'s fantastic!

  3. addie says:

    reading about your day just made me even more tired.

  4. Kirsten says:

    Know exactly what you mean about the partial attention things–it's something I strugle with daily! Wonder if we can just blame it on serials? 😉

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