Library Day in the Life – Round 5, Day 1

And it’s time for another round of Library Day in the Life posts. See: for info on the project. I also participated previous rounds in Janurary 2010 and in July 2009. You can find all my posts for this project by searching my blog’s librarydayinthelife tag. You can also follow my Twitter posts @slmcdanold with the hashtag #libday5.

Obligatory background: I’m a cataloger at a rather large academic library. Specifically a cataloger of electronic resources (anything online, in any format), and continuing resources (serials, etc.). I participate in the PCC program, doing NACO and both CONSER and BIBCO work depending on what I’m dealing with at the time.

Much (most?) of the cataloging for continuing resources and many online resources is maintenance work and updating of the bibliographic records to reflect current information. Changes can be anything from the frequency, to a change in publisher, to a title variation or title change. Cataloging these types of materials is like trying to hit a moving target or nailing jello to the wall. There’s also the ongoing inventory maintenance on our holdings records to deal with keeping our holdings current, including withdrawn/lost/missing volumes, general edits to fix accuracy issues, etc.

I have four para-professional (or support) staff in my unit. Two that work an early shift, and two that work a later shift. In an attempt to cover the most ground, my schedule says I work from 8am to 4pm, although I usually don’t actually get out of the office until 4:30 or 5pm.

Monday, July 26, 2010

6:25am: roll out of bed. Attempt to pet my cat, who’s blinking at me and still curled up on the bed, and get a cranky “mrow” and swiped at in response. She then buries her face under her front paws as if she’s attempting to block out the morning light. My cat is not fond of mornings. Shower, dress, eat breakfast, drink coffee. Give cat (who has finally gotten up and followed me to the kitchen) a small amount of milk in an attempt to improve her mood. It doesn’t work, but she does drink the milk. Pour remaining coffee into my to-go cup.

7:25am: leave for work. It’s a little over a mile to work from my apartment, which translates into about a 20 minute non-hurried walk. The horrendous heat wave has finally broken, so for the first time in about 2 weeks the walk is pleasant and I’m not drenched in sweat by the time I arrive at work.

8am: Login to work network. Login to email, calendar, other various and sundry programs. Thunderbird and Firefox both require and update and restart. Twiddle thumbs while updates process. Message light on my phone is blinking, and telling me I have two missed calls. Check messages (while Firefox and Thunderbird complete updates) and discover that two of my staff are out sick. With one on vacation, and one who’s regular day off is today, that means I have no staff here today. Update HR spreadsheet and calendar appropriately and create draft of weekly staff time-off email report.

8:15am: Login to email for second time. Read email. Forward and respond to necessary messages. Catch up on news feeds, work email listservs, and library-related Twitter lists. Scan subjects and then delete mass numbers of listserv messages. Review my calendar and realize with some minor alarm and then small celebration that I have no meetings today. In fact this whole week continues the “meeting lite” month that July has been so far. This is a pleasant change, yet also makes me nervous.

8:35am: Realize belatedly that it’s Library Day in the Life week again. Start this post.

8:45am: Check in with boss. Let her know my summons for jury duty arrived in the mail on Sat. I’m slated for August. There’s an epidemic of jury duty lately, both within the library and my friends across the country. An awfully high percentage of my friends, colleagues, staff have all received jury duty summons lately. As my boss said: “That’s what you get for voting.” Sigh.

9:00am: Start reviewing records that have been merged by OCLC. I send them a long list of messy duplicate records on a fairly regular basis. These are duplicates that would not otherwise be caught by their duplicate detection and resolution software. They’re largely duplicates that have been cataloged following a medley of old, interim, and current rules, often ending up with different record types and some creative title variations as a result. Once OCLC merges them for me, I go in and update the cataloging to bring it up to current rules and update the description.

Some of the records I decide to authenticate (giving them the PCC stamp of approval and a nice shiny new LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number) from my stash). This is dependent on a number of factors, including number of holdings attached, age of resource, how much information I have and how much I can trust that information, etc. All of this (authenticating or updating/enhancing) involves verifying information from the websites themselves, trying to ferret out useful information from “about” or “faq” pages like how often something is updated, who’s responsible for content, or when the thing first went live online. Needless to say, sometimes this is easier than others.

I take periodic breaks during the morning to deal with incoming email and listserv messages, deal with some committee work, check the Twitter stream, and have a snack.

12:30pm: Lunch outside with a colleague. The weather is gorgeous and I need to get out of the building and away from my computer for a bit. Let me eyes take a break and give my fingers and toes a chance to thaw out. My office is always chilly. I keep several cardigans, a lap blanket, a pair of emergency cotton socks, and a pair of fingerless gloves in a desk drawer. One (or frequently several) of those items is in use pretty much every single day. I think I need to acquire a small space heater.

1:35pm: Back from lunch. Check email. Scan subjects and delete more listserv messages.

2:00pm: Resumed review of merged records. Yes, I’m likely going to spend the entire day on this. I’m a cataloger. It’s my job to create, improve and update the bibliographic description of things to make sure they’re findable and uniquely identifiable. If the data isn’t there, no amount of fancy searching is going to find the thing you’re looking for or help you figure out if what you found is what you need. So I spend large amounts of time creating, updating, or improving that data, or advising other people working on data, or supervising my staff who are also working on data. It may not be “sexy,” but it’s necessary.

2:20pm: Interruption to review a file of records from a vendor before we purchase them. Have to make sure the records contain sufficient data and have all the required elements for us to load them into our system. We don’t want to spend money on records we either cannot use or will have to spend way too much staff time on to edit and make them work.

2:40pm: Take brief walk with spare change to raid the “snack store” kept by a staffperson. I’m in need of some chocolate.

2:45pm: Back to reviewing merged records.

3:20pm: Take break to resurrect last fiscal year’s annual report for my unit and begin editing it for this fiscal year. I realize there are several months worth of statistics I need to evaluate and enter and stall out. I will have to start on the statistics much earlier in the day.

3:45pm: Back to reviewing merged records.

4:10pm: Review email and clean out listserv messages. Schedule this post. Log out and close programs. Log out of network, shut down (restart) computer.

4:30pm: Leave work to walk home in gorgeous mid-80s sunny weather.

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.

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