Library Day in the Life – Round 8, Day 1

It’s time for another round of Library Day in the Life posts. See the Library Day in the Life wiki for info on the project. I also participated previous rounds. 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 #libday8.

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. I also participate in committee work for the PCC, ALA ALCTS, and NASIG.

I am head of a unit that handles the cataloging, maintenance and inventory control of continuing resources (both serials and integrating resources) and electronic resources (online resources) for all units of the Libraries by updating and maintaining bibliographic, holdings and item records. 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.

The majority of time spent on 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also the ongoing inventory maintenance on our holdings records to deal with keeping our holdings current, including withdrawn/lost/missing volumes, general edits to fix accuracy issues, etc.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 also spend a large amount of time managing the bulk loads of MARC records for title-level access to online resources such as streaming media and ebooks (including batch editing the records prior to loading using tools like MarcEdit) and managing the cataloging of individual ebooks and ebooks series that aren’t available in sets but require regular maintenance and updating.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I was a bit late this morning courtesy of my cat and a hairball incident. It upset my routine enough that I left my travel mug of coffee at home on the counter. I am not so much a morning person, so my routine is fine tuned to make sure I get out of the apartment in once piece, wearing shoes not slippers, and without locking myself out. I’m lucky the only thing I forgot was my coffee. So I made a quick stop before heading into the library for some coffee. Coffee is a non-negotiable morning requirement.

Once I acquired my precious brew and got to my desk, I login to the work network. This is followed by logging in to email, my work calendar, Voyager and Connexion, opening GChat, opening a browser (Firefox at work, but Chrome at home), and logging in to various web programs (including Evernote), start TweetDeck.

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.

Check calendar to find out what’s on today’s schedule.

10-10:30am: Bi-weekly check-in meeting with 1 of my 4 staff. The other staff person I meet with this week (2 people each week) is out today so we’ll meet Tuesday instead. And next week I’ll have my meeting with my remaining two staff. This is something I started back in July. These bi-weekly meetings have greatly improved and increased communication with my staff by having regular face-to-face conversations. They also present more opportunities to get solutions for things directly from them. I don’t have to solve the problems, I just have to support the solution and the process. The feedback from my staff on our bi-weekly meetings has been overwhelmingly positive. It helps us all stay on top of things and address issues before they get out of hand and become critical. It’s also helped our unit come together and work better together. Communication has improved not just between myself and individual staff, but between staff members. Our unit has really “jelled” and is working well as a single functional unit rather than individuals thrown together. It’s incredibly encouraging and satisfying to see that happen (it’s been a long road and a lot of hard work from all of us to get here).

And yet I’m constantly reminded that management is a work in progress, ever evolving. I try different things, some work, some don’t. I’m constantly having to learn and improve as a manager. I’ve attended seminars and workshops, read articles, and received honest feedback from colleagues and my own supervisor, all of which have been valuable in various ways to help me be a better manager. It’s not easy. Anyone that tells you otherwise is a liar.

11am: We have several new professionals. This morning was an orientation meeting between the new head of a unit in a different department and my department. Essentially we use the time to break down the relationships between units and departments and review workflows.

Noon: Code4Lib Conference online meeting for pre-conference planning. It has become clear that I will not be able to attend Code4Lib after all. The pre-conference proposal was last minute so I hadn’t planned to attend and it’s just not possible with everything going on right now. I tried to find a way to make it work (both financially and work related), but alas, no dice. Sometimes having to be responsible can really suck. But that doesn’t stop me from finishing up the pre-conference planning. I’ll still do my part and put together slides for what would have been my portion of the brief presentation. I’m seriously disappointed, but now even more determined to plan ahead to attend next year. We are exploring the possibility that I may be able to participate via Skype, and I really hope that happens. Either that or someone better figure out cloning quickly…I volunteer as a test subject!

We’ve been using Adobe Connect for our online meetings. It’s quite powerful, and I’ve used it for other committee work where we need to bring people together from all over the country and for presentations/trainings since you can upload files and share your desktop. There’s nothing to install beyond the basic Adobe software suite (and who doesn’t have the reader these days) which has the underpinnings to run the meeting space. The connection is via a URL. No registration or passcodes needed. Which is very user friendly, especially when you are trying to throw a meeting together at the last minute. All participants need is a headset with microphone for conversation (although there is a chat box if microphone isn’t an option), and an internet connection and browser. The only issue we’ve encountered is that it’s not as reliable when someone connects via wireless, but is perfectly stable when connecting via Ethernet (a “wired” connection).

As soon as we were done with the Code4Lib meeting, I switched over to the (free!) ALA Midwinter Midwinter Tech Wrapup 2012 which started at 1pm. A panel presents their “observations and analysis of the top technology trends from the conference, and what they see as the implications for libraries”. It’s an interesting snapshot of all the new stuff that gets presented at ALA.

Mid-way through the Tech Wrapup presentation, I realize I haven’t eaten lunch yet. My stomach reminded me with an annoyed growl/grumble. Oops. Fortunately the Wrapup is being recorded, and they will be sending out the recording and links to the slides in the next few days.

1:30pm – LUNCH.

2:00pm – A colleague sends me many helpful emails to address my need to swap Date1 and Date2 in a large number of files of MARC records. Holly Tomren is my hero today. Sometimes the best thing is to share your challenges openly and freely (and without shame). Chances are someone else has encountered it too and can either provide a solution or some helpful guidance or at least some sympathy. 🙂

As much as I would like to play with what she sent immediately, I have a small list of things in our catalog to clean up. Since our system has decided to be cooperative and stable today (note: our server has been cranky and the reasons for its’ crankiness continue to elude our local systems folks and the systems folks at the company that owns the ILS software), the clean up edits take priority.

2:30pm – And just as I find all my notes and emails and bring up the first record, the system crashes. Dammit.

2:40pm – I try to log in to the system again and success! Edits ahoy!

2:57pm – And not so fast. System crash. I think I saved the record I was editing in time. ::crosses fingers::

3:04pm – System restarted. And we’re back up. Yea gods…whiplash!

3:30pm – Editing of some of the meeting notes I typed up yesterday. It’s tricky, as I’m reporting on what was said by someone else on a committee I’m not on. Needless to say the individual has had quite a few suggestions for edits to my notes.

3:45pm – Respond to an email from a colleague about loading a set of records for digitized historical newspapers into our catalog. Add the requested collection to the master spreadsheet so it can be placed in the queue by our collection development team. They evaluate priorities and determine the order of the sets that have been requested or purchased for loading into the catalog. We have a bit of a backlog, but we’re slowly catching up. Some of the sets we load are quite large (the Congressional Serial Set and the Parliamentary Papers are two good examples of extremely large sets consisting of many files with upwards of 50,000 records per file) so they take some time. We can only load so many records at a time, due to system limitations and post-load re-indexing needs (re-indexing can be a demanding and potentially resource eating process for a server).

4:10pm – I had the privilege of serving on the ALCTS Continuing Resources Section Ulrich’s Serials Librarianship Award jury committee this year. One of our final tasks is reviewing the press releases and announcements that will be going out celebrating and honoring the recipient of the award. These are the kinds of documents I love reviewing and editing. A feel-good way to end the day.

While editing, I also get pinged via Google Talk by a colleague from another institution with a serials cataloging question. There are some complicated changes to an institution name that require edits in multiple places on top of a migration from print format to online. Serials can be complicated and tricky when they are feeling onerous. But I do love that I live in the future and such things can be discussed via online chat. 🙂

4:30pm – Final email check. Clean out email listservs. Check Twitter and blog feeds. Schedule this post.

4:35pm – Phone call from colleague asking me about next steps for a workflow revision.

4:40pm – A staff person asks me a question about some strange notes in a holdings record. We figure out the best way to edit the notes so they make sense.

4:50pm – Rush to shut things/programs down and log out from work network. Shut down (restart) computer. Leave work. I have somewhere to be at 5:30pm and must get out of here!

[Edited to finish filling in the last 30 minutes of my day…didn’t have a chance before I had to leave and it was already scheduled to publish! Oops.]


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.

One Response to Library Day in the Life – Round 8, Day 1

  1. Holly says:

    Thanks for letting me be hero for a day! And thanks also for your help with my questions.

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