Thursday, March 13, 2008


I'm just going to lay this out there--sometimes I get bored cataloging. It's not always puppies and sunshine at my desk, especially right now, when I'm learning how to do the cataloging the way they do here. I mean, it's good practice, but dear me, I get tired of checking for correct spacing.

I'm much more interested in talking to people about metadata then actually creating it. My husband has suggested I actually have the soul of a reference librarian, in that I like being around people, talking to them and brainstorming. But I like systems so much! I protest. I could never be a reference librarian. Making subject guides just sounds like torture.
There is something comforting about cataloging, sometimes. Knowing that there is a set way to do things, that the semi-colon always comes before the 300$c field. It's like a warm blanket.

Metadata, on the other like a crazy game where the rules change all the time. I love it, though. I have a big, big meeting next week just to hash out a bunch of questions that I have come up with about this newest digital project. I have a feeling that the consistency required by catalogers will always be at loggerheads with the need for quick, fluid change that is often the rule in digitization projects. I think I'm supposed to be a translator. I'm like a daywalker, maybe.

And in the spirit of that, I'm apparently going to "teach" a "class" on how catalogers catalog, to scholars and techies and even archivists. Because none of the other people involved in this digitization project have a clue about what we do down here in the basement. So I'm writing down all these questions that I think need answered, like "what do people not know about cataloging?" Answer: EVERYTHING. Or, "Explain the difference between regular cataloging and this metadata process?" Answer: explain we're not really anal retentive--we're trying to standardize data inputting as much as possible. LCSH is just a big, big set of block letters on my notepad right now (as if I would forget about it...). It might also have a fairy castle growing out of the H. Maybe.

At any rate, being a translator has brought me a lot more joy in my job than semicolons ever did. Although the mighty semicolon certainly has its place.

1 comment:

Jennie said...

Ooooo... I had a whole lecture yesterday on semi-colons...

You'd be awesome at reference.

"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.