Today, I spent the majority of the day out of the office at the meeting I mentioned yesterday. It was a meeting of the officers of the Nebraska Library Association’s Technical Services Round Table. I am the Web Coordinator of the round table, which means that I maintain our web site and our newly-created Facebook page. The meeting lasted for almost three hours, most of which was spent planning for our upcoming Spring Meeting, which will be held on April 13. There was also quite a bit of travel time involved in attending this meeting, since it was held in Omaha, an hour away from Lincoln, where I work, so I got back to the office with only about two hours left in the work day.
When I got back, the first thing I did was to make a few small updates to the TSRT web site, reflecting things that we talked about at the meeting. I also caught up on the email that I received while I was gone.
Then, I turned my attention to the two book carts that appeared in my office while I was gone. One of the carts had some items that are being moved from our Ready Reference section to our general collection, so I had to edit their catalog records to reflect the change of location. The other cart had items to be withdrawn from the collection. Both of these were nice, relatively easy tasks to work on for the last bit of a Friday afternoon.
Well, as usual, I started my day with email and Google Reader. Looking back on my posts from the last few days, I realized that, reading them, you might assume that I am one of those super-organized people who checks email only at certain times throughout the day in order to maximize my productivity. That is most definitely not the case. I have my email open the whole day and generally get distracted from whatever I’m doing when a desktop alert pops up for a new email, but the only time I really purposefully allot a specific chunk of time to email is at the start of the day, which is why it’s the only time I bother to mention it.
While most of my email time is spent reading email that I’ve received, today I did spend some time writing an email to a few other staff members, asking if they would be willing to join me next week for an interview with a library science student. She is doing an assignment that requires her to interview a technical services department about their process involved in acquiring, cataloging, and processing items in their collection.
After that, I took the time to read one more handout from the MARC Formats Interest Group meeting that I mentioned yesterday. Then, I returned to cataloging the state government documents that I was pulled away from yesterday.
For the last hour before lunch, I multitasked by continuing to catalog while logged into the course website for the online course that I am teaching. I have scheduled a series of synchronous online chats throughout the course; people will know that I will be online during these periods, and they can log in and ask me questions. So far, no one has taken advantage of these chat sessions. I suppose this makes sense, since if they are taking the course specifically because the asynchronous format means that they don’t have to be online at any specific time, they will probably not think of logging on at a specific time to ask questions. I think that I probably won’t include these chat sessions in future asynchronous online classes.
After lunch, I finished my assignment for the RDA class that I am taking. I don’t feel entirely confident in all of my answers (FRBR is really quite tricky!), so I will be very interested to see what kind of feedback I receive.
Then, I took a moment to read over the agenda for the meeting of the officers of the Nebraska Library Association Technical Services Round Table, which I will be attending tomorrow. I also printed out some copies of my Web Coordinator report to take with me tomorrow.
Next, I spent some time working on Codeacademy’s Codeyear exercises. I have signed up to participate in this program, in which you complete a short computer coding lesson every week. This is week 4. I have no idea if I will actually be able to keep up with this for the whole year, but I am enjoying it so far. I’m also enjoying the camaraderie with the other catalogers participating as part of CatCode. I have been doing a lot of Codeyear at home, since it’s really not an extremely pressing job duty, but I had some downtime today, so I decided to take advantage of this fact.
As usual, I started my day by catching up on email and reading new Google Reader items.
Next, I spent some time grading the assignments for my online class that had been submitted since I last checked on Monday.
Then, I switched from online class teacher to online class participant and worked on my assignment for the RDA class that I mentioned yesterday. This particular assignment involves taking pieces of a MARC record and deciding which FRBR attributes they represent. I think doing exercises like this will be an important step in really wrapping my head around RDA, but it
definitely took longer than I expected, and I haven’t finished it yet, so I will have to come back to it later in the week.
After the webinar, I had a few minutes to kill before lunch. I used the time to record the number of government documents that I
cataloged last month in the official processing stats spreadsheet.
After lunch (gyros! yum!), I spent some time on professional reading. One of the items in my email this morning was an announcement that the presentations from the 2012 ALA Midwinter MARC Formats Interest Group meeting, the theme of which was “What Lies Beyond MARC?”, were posted to the ALA Connect website. I downloaded the presentation materials and spent some time reading them. Very interesting stuff!
After that, my intent was to spend the rest of the afternoon cataloging state government documents. I mostly did that, but I was interrupted by an email that came in from a Nebraska librarian asking me a question about series headings, so I switched gears in order to answer him. It took a surprisingly long time to write a series-headings-in-a-nutshell email, but answering questions from librarians is one of the parts of my job that I like best, so I didn’t mind being taken away from my originally scheduled plans. Those gov docs will still be there tomorrow.
This morning, I started my day by checking email and Google Reader. (If I do manage to blog about all five days this week, you will notice definite pattern when I describe how I start my day.)
Next, I watched a couple of videos for an online class that I am taking through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s continuing education program. The class is about Resource Description and Access (RDA), the new cataloging rules, and I am hoping it will be very useful to me, both in terms of learning how to catalog according to RDA and in terms of learning how to train people on
RDA, which I am sure I will have to do in the next few years. It is an 8-week online class, and I am currently in week 3.
My largest chunk of actual cataloging occurred in the late morning, when I worked on cataloging state government documents, which generally take up most of my cataloging time. My library is a repository for state government documents, so we receive a copy of every publication, report, etc., generated by all of the state agencies in Nebraska. I really enjoy this part of my job, as it is an opportunity to do a lot of original cataloging and to work with items in a number of different subject areas.
Near the end of the morning, my cataloging was interrupted when our government documents librarian asked me a question about the statistics for the number of federal government documents I have cataloged so far this fiscal year. I took about fifteen minutes to sort that out for her, and then I went back to cataloging until lunch.
After lunch, I had a little bit of time to kill before an online meeting, so I did something I try to do on the last day of every month –
update my resume. I am not currently looking for a new job, and I don’t plan to look for one for a while, but it’s always a good idea to make sure your resume is up-to-date. I don’t even remember where I heard it, but somewhere along the line, someone suggested the idea of monthly resume updates, and I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now. I have “Update resume” as a recurring task on my Outlook task list, set for the last day of every month. Some months, I don’t have anything to add, and other months, I don’t have time to actually sit down and do this, but the regular reminder keeps me mindful of the fact that I shouldn’t let my resume languish, in case I should happen to need it. In this case, I added a presentation that I gave earlier this month for my library’s weekly webinar series.
The online meeting I attended was for the RDA class I mentioned earlier. The class is mostly asynchronous, with participants logging on whenever is convenient for them to view the content and do the exercises, but the instructor has set up a couple of synchronous online meetings to go over exercise answers. Since I had nothing else going on at the time of this
particular meeting, I decided to attend. (I have to admit I was multi-tasking by working on this blog post during part of it.)
After the meeting was over, I returned to cataloging and then put the finishing touches on this blog post before leaving work early for a doctor’s appointment.
For the second time, I am participating in the Library Day in the Life project. I hope to make more than one entry this week (perhaps I’ll even write about every day!), but I have at least managed to chronicle one day.
I started my day today by catching up on email that came in over the weekend and reading new blog posts in Google Reader.
After that, I spent some time copy cataloging a couple of new DVDs for our collection. Since it was copy cataloging, it did not take too much time. I took them downstairs to the circulation desk so they could be shelved.
Next, I worked on grading some assignments for the asynchronous online class I’m currently teaching (the topic is cataloging video recordings). We are currently on week 4 of a 5-week class. The participants, other librarians across the state, log in and read/watch the course content whenever it is convenient for them. Then they submit short exercises for me to grade. This is the second course that I have taught in this format, and so far, I like doing it this way.
I then decided that my major project for the day was going to be updating my in-person Introduction to Metadata workshop. I taught this workshop for the first time in July of last year, and I am going to be teaching it again in March. I started going over the notes I made at the end of class last time about what I should do differently. I also read the comments on the participants’ evaluation forms to see if they had any suggestions for improvement that I could incorporate into the new version of the class.
Over the lunch hour, along with a number of co-workers, I attended the ALA TechSource Midwinter Tech Wrapup webinar.
After lunch, I returned to working on the metadata workshop. Taking a break to watch the webinar must have helped some ideas percolate in my brain, because I suddenly got very inspired to add a new exercise to the class. I spent most of the afternoon working on designing this new exercise, interrupted only by a coffee break with co-workers. (It’s currently 69 degrees in Nebraska in January – we definitely had to get outside!), until the very end of the day, when I spent a few minutes talking with our Continuing Education Coordinator. Next month, I will be teaching an online class in our Basic Skills series of courses, and we needed to touch base about what, if any updates need to be made to the class.
Wow, I actually made it to the end of CPD 23! Thing 23 asks us to sum up our experience with the program, starting with a 6-word story. I suppose my 6-word story would be “Lots to think about and do.”
As I said in one of my earlier reflective posts, the most interesting part of the program for me has not been trying out new tools and technologies, but getting the chance to stop and think about my career – how it’s gone so far and where I might like to go in the future.
So I’ve done the “lots to think about” part already, as part of the program; however, now I have to make sure the doing part happens as well. I want to keep the things I’ve thought about as part of this program in mind and make changes in my life and current workplace in order to help me make progress toward some of the things I’ve talked about while reflecting on my career.
Thing 22 asks us to talk about volunteering to get experience in the library field. I did do some volunteering while I was in
library school. In the beginning, I started out volunteering mainly to get an idea of whether or not I would like the library environment; I had never worked in a library before I started library school, and I thought that getting some practical experience would help reassure me that I hadn’t made the wrong educational choice. I started out by volunteering to shelve books at the local public library.
Later on, when I was in my last year of library school, I did some more volunteer work, this time in an attempt to explore a particular area of library work, cataloging, that I thought I might want to work in. I volunteered for a local museum, cataloging their library collection. This served two purposes. First, it was again a way of getting real-life experience to make sure that I would like cataloging as much as I thought I would. Second, it was a way of getting solid cataloging experience that I could put on my resume. When you are just starting out, it can be hard to get a paid position in exactly the area of library work that you want to focus on, so volunteering can be a way to demonstrate that you have skills in your preferred area of work. At the time, I did have a paid library job, but it was in reference, and I wanted to get some cataloging experience to put on my resume.
My library science program also required a practicum, and if you are in a program that does not require a practicum or internship, I highly recommend doing one anyway, if possible. It is yet another way to get some practical experience before you finish school.
Somehow, I found Thing 21, which asks us to talk about our strengths and interests, the hardest one to do so far. (I’m not sure what that says about me.)
One interest that I’ve discovered because of my current job is training. I couldn’t have anticipated that delivering training sessions on cataloging topics would end up being my favorite part of my job, but it has. (Since I am someone who hated public speaking while growing up, this really is a surprise!) Even though I greatly enjoy training, I realize that I am not a natural born presenter, and so I work hard to develop the skills to make me better at pursuing this interest of mine. I try to improve my delivery techniques and the way I present information on my slides when I talk. I subscribe to several public speaking and training blogs, so I can encounter new ideas relevant to this interest. And I do think that taking the time to work at these skills is turning my interest into a strength of mine. I have received a lot of positive feedback on my training sessions and presentations, which only encourages me to continue to work on my skills in this area. So I definitely see the connection between your interests and your strengths.
I also think it’s important to know your own interests and strengths in order to think about your future career path. I’m not looking to take a new job anytime soon, but I still keep an eye out when I see announcements for jobs that look interesting to me. If a job sounds like something I might like to do someday, but somewhat different from what I do now, I take a look at the qualifications for the job and take note of which skills I have already and which skills I would need to develop in order to have a job like this. Then I think about ways in which I can gain these skills.
For Thing 20, we are supposed to participate in the Library Routes Project. I think I covered how and why I got into the library profession pretty well in Thing 10, so I’ll just talk a little bit about the career path I’ve taken so far in the library world.
When I started library school, I had never worked in a library. My first library experience, while I was in library school, was volunteer work shelving books at a public library. During my last semester of library school, I finally got a paid job in a library, working as a reference assistant in an academic library. During most of library school, I didn’t know what type of library I wanted to work in when I finished, or really what type of library work I wanted to be doing, but when I took my cataloging class, I knew that it was something I wanted to pursue, so even though my paid library job was not in cataloging, I found other ways to get experience in that area. I did my practicum (which was required as part of my graduate program) in the technical services department at the same academic library where I worked, and I also volunteered at a local museum, cataloging their library collection.
When I graduated, since I was not able to be very geographically flexible in my job search, I applied for pretty much every librarian job I heard about. Even though I wanted to be a cataloger, I would have taken a job in any area of library work. However, about 4 months after graduation, I was hired for my current job, cataloging librarian at our state library agency, and I’ve been here for three years.
I spent some time looking around at the other entries on the Library Routes wiki. The stories that I read there echo my experiences with librarians I know in real life; most people kind of stumbled into librarianship and didn’t originally intend for it to be their career. Librarianship definitely seems to be a career that not a lot of people think about early in life.
Thing 19 encourages us to take a minute and think about the Things we’ve looked at so far and how we might integrate them into our lives.
Many of the tools that we’ve explored are things that I’m familiar with already and for the most part, I’ve already made the decision about whether or not to integrate them into my life. However, I do have a renewed interest in Evernote after exploring it in Thing 9. It is a really useful tool, and I’m going to make a point to use it more often.
So far, for me, the most valuable part of CPD 23 has not been learning about tools; it’s been the Things where we are asked to reflect on certain aspects of our careers. I’ve enjoyed taking the chance to think about how my career has gone so far and about things I would like to do differently in the future. I’m glad that this program gave me the chance to take some time out of my normal schedule and think about these things.