Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"It's a wonderful [Cataloger's] life."

Hello everyone,

It is I, Carl, your intrepid cataloger with my final blog post of the school year.  It has been a good school year, filled with the usual challenges and triumphs you would expect of any college librarian. 

Today, I wanted to take a few minutes to write about what at cataloger is and does.  There are still some people out there who believe that librarians sit around and read books all day.  Frankly, that notion couldn't be further from the truth.  The only books I've read from cover to cover on the job are when I'm trying to catalog 36 page children's books, with all of the pretty pictures and such.  [I'm a sucker for children's books, especially now that I have a baby daughter of my own.]  As a cataloger, I must admit that I've had to, at times, skim books to find out what they are about so I can properly describe them in the library catalog. 

In fact, that is my primary job at Lane Library these days.  In essence, I create bibliographies for a living, using special rules [RDA] that are used by libraries around the world.  I, and my student assistants, describe books and create access points so library users can find books on the shelves.  We describe approximately 2,000 books, videos, and other physical items every year.  This can be intensive work when I am assigning authoritative subject and author headings.  I often ask the student assistants when I'm training them; what is the difference between common or similar names, for example:  John A. Behnke vs. John A. Behnke, 1953-.  It turns out that the first John A. Behnke was a professor out East and wrote a book about euthanasia, while the second John A. Behnke was a music professor in Wisconsin and still is a composer.  It is my job to make sure that the proper name is listed in the proper record.  This sometimes requires a lot of research. 

There is much more that I could tell you about what I do, but that would make a very long post.  If you are really curious about my work or are interested in going into the library profession, feel free to come by the library and talk with me.  Of course, if you are interested in the library profession, talk with all of your Lane Librarians.  We love to talk about what we do.

Have a great Summer.

This is Carl Ziebell signing off.

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