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Library Day In The Life Project – Round 8

Last week was Library Day in the Life Project Round 8 and despite all my best intentions I didn’t do a blog post then, so I am going to do one now (a week later, but never mind!).  Several days I did tweet my day’s activity using their hashtag #libday8 so at least I took part in some way during the right week.

I’ve found that the last couple of weeks I have had a meeting, training session, trip out the office, etc etc nearly every day, and I’m a cataloguer!  Most people would expect cataloguers to sit at the same desk all day every day, and to not have much variety in their jobs.  Well, not me, not here.  I wanted to pick a day where I was predominantly cataloguing (ie doing my main job) to document; maybe I was using the wrong tack and should have picked a day where I was all over the place, after all its all about giving people a realistic impression about that a ‘day in the life’ of a librarian is really all about.

A quick peruse over the diary reveals that last Tuesday I took part in a session testing PRIMO (or Library Search as we will be branding it), going through a worksheet designed to test some problem areas; Wednesday we had, what we call, ULS Briefings – its a chance for (primarily) site/subject/cataloguing librarians to get together and listen to some presentations about various things that are going on within our library service, or that relate or impact on our service.  So we heard about the support for international students, and about ULS international engagement, plus a talk about students curating an exhibition in our special collections department, and an update on our Stores project.  We were treated to Welsh cakes in our refreshment break too.

Thursday I had a Cardiff Libraries in Co-operation (CLIC) Staff Development Group meeting.  We talked about the upcoming National Libraries Day, and our day of library tours for library staff that was taking place on the Friday.  We also made a lot of arrangements for a session on marketing that we will be running in May.

Exhibition in Welsh Government building

Friday, as it was our ‘library tours’ day I went over to the Welsh Government building where they were holding an exhibition on the different libraries in Cardiff, promoting these services to their staff.  Its a secure building so I had to ensure my name had been put to the security staff, and that they knew I was due that morning.  I didn’t set off any alarms, though one of my colleagues managed to cause problems later!  As things were fairly quiet they also gave me my own little tour of their library too.

I think I also managed to do some cataloguing that week!

This week hasn’t been much better as I’ve already clocked up three meetings, and have another scheduled for tomorrow, plus a library tour of the Welsh Assembly Government Library (plus Senedd) on Friday (they couldn’t fit their tours in with last week’s session).  But yesterday I spent in our special collections section, cataloguing private press books –  a proper cataloguing day – and a chance to ignore most other distractions being away from my desk!

Email has a big impact on my life (most our lives?), and there were several days when I began with the intention of working on one particular thing, and then got knocked off course and had to follow up a whole host of other things.  This was true of Friday where I had decided to catalogue books for the Human Genetics Historical Libary (one of the projects I am involved in); and ended up sorting out invoices for refreshments for a Cataloguing day event I am organising, which led to sorting out the programme, and catching up with booking forms, etc.

This wasn’t really a proper ‘day in the life’ blog entry, but a taster of a week in the life of a ‘cataloguer with interest in staff development’.

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A day in the life (round 7) – 26th July : morning

I’m a Cataloguing Librarian (with special responsibility for the medical and healthcare libraries) who works for Cardiff University, I’m not actually based in a library (sadly), as about 5 years ago they relocated the Acquisitions and Cataloguing department from the basement of the Arts and Social Studies Library to an admin building about a mile away.  [Incidentally the basement now houses SCOLAR – Special Collections and Archives].  Although we get to see all the new books passing through we don’t get to see them adorning the book shelves in the libraries. The reason for this blog post is that I’m taking part in the “Library Day in the Life Project Round 7

My attention was drawn to this project by Girl in the Moon who commented on an earlier blog post where I had mentioned a “Day in the life” piece that I wrote in 2008 for an internal project in the library service at Cardiff.

Today there are no new medical or healthcare books waiting for me to catalogue.  The rest of the cataloguing team no longer have special responsibilities for a school or library, as a few years ago it was deemed more efficient to have everyone catalogue everything.  I was the exception as I my post is funded differently.  There are pros and cons to this approach, and not everyone was happy with the decision to go this way.  Having a specialist subject means that one is usually able to catalogue a book on that topic faster than someone who doesn’t, and that one is aware of any local idiosyncrasies connected to that area.  Anyway, that is the way it works at the moment. 

Today it means that while there are 5 metres of new stock waiting to be catalogued, none of them are my responsibility!  I start the day with participation in cpd23 looking at Thing 8 – Google Calendar and I blog my response to it.  An hour is spent on some confidential paperwork. 

Next up I tackle some of the theses I have waiting, it seems they are universally hated in my team, as adding keywords on highly specialised topics can be a severe intellectual stretch at times!  This issue was discussed at our last team meeting and the option to forget about adding keywords was raised.  Should the authors of theses include keywords (well yes it would be helpful!), and if so should we just use these even though they might not conform to either LCSH, or MeSH; should we ask the schools to provide keywords, perhaps getting a postgrad to add them to our records; should we continue as we do, adding what we can – we at least are familiar with LCSH and MeSH even if the topic of the thesis is beyond our comprehension (you know  – when you’ve read the abstract 10 times and you still don’t have a clue what they are talking about) I’d be interested to know what other places do with their theses.  Anyway, today I managed to do a selection of the ones on my shelf without too much problem – though I was cherry picking a bit.

Next I moved on to books I have waiting to add to the Human Genetics Historical Library.  This ‘library’ is housed in SCOLAR and is part of a project to preserve the history of human genetics.  All the items have been donated, either as individual copies, or as part of larger collections (from medical libraries and personal collections).  The main driving force behind this project, Professor Peter Harper, is also donating his personal book collection; however, he is keeping his books at home for the time being as he is still active in research, but to ensure they are added to the library he brings me a couple of bags worth every few weeks.  The library will eventually contain the complete collections of three main individuals (including Prof Harper), as a consequence there are quite a few duplicates being added to the library.  Today I found was no exception, and of the eight books that passed through my hands before lunch, only one needed cataloguing as a unique copy.  After lunch I am hoping to continue with the genetics books, I have several on a shelf that are all foreign language items donated by Prof John Edwards (another one of the three main individuals) – they are in languages such as Russian and Japanese so I have been putting them off for awhile – might try to tackle a few of them today.

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