Sunday, July 8, 2007

025.3 Cataloging Camp: A Case for Lemonade

We recently completed our annual month of summer staff development for our district Librarians. For the last few years, we have offered a series of classes and workshops based on what the Librarians have requested and what we determine will help all continue to provide superior service to their students and teachers. For instance, some of this year's schedule included podcasting, creating webpages using the open source software DotNetNuke, books and online resources for books, and an open technology forum where the Librarians could bring their questions or concerns about anything technology-wise.

An annual workshop that ALWAYS draws a crowd is our Cataloging Camp! We hold it 8 times during the month...4 days (cuz Fridays we are off), 2 classes a day. That way, Librarians can choose to stay all day if they want to (or their schedule allows it) because once you drag all your items for cataloging out and gather up all the tools and information you need to complete the task, time is essential!

This gathering became essential 8 years ago or so when our district decided the processing center was a luxury that could no longer be supported. 40+ Librarians who had NEVER had to do anything to a book, video, or kit except stamp a school name and maybe slap on an extra sticker were left with piles of items to catalog. We banded together, found books to help us, read up on rules, and dug into it. At the end of the year, we decided that a group effort would help...we could support and help each other learn the missing pieces. In other words, collective wisdom would be a huge benefit.

And before you ask...Yes, we now order almost all of our materials processed by the vendors, but there are ALWAYS those items (gifts, freebies, departmental, and great "deals") that require cataloging attention.

What we didn't count on...and what continues to this day...about these group gatherings for doing something that most School Librarians (and probably a lot of others as well) put at the bottom of their to-do that THEY ARE F-U-N!

Way back, the term cataloging "camp" was coined at one of the first sessions...many of us were mothers of children who were going off to day camp, sleep-over camp, or earning badges at scout the word was in the air and I suspect that is one reason for the honorary "title." That, the brown bag lunches we brought, and the fact that we came with enough baggage to warrant a "stay-over."

We found out that it is MUCH EASIER to share the "pain" of learning cataloging rules, learning the system, learning the software we had selected, and learning not to repeat someone else's work. Quite often the same items show up in several people's piles. We help each other interpret things in Spanish, decide if the call # should be this or that, and figure out just what is the exact terminology for all the "funky" subject headings that seem to pop up every year.

So the "work" gets done, the records get loaded, and life moves on. the meantime, we have bonded...laughed more than you can imagine (and some of it even about cataloging!)...shared our lives, our recipes, our goals, and even some of our fears (snakes, cockroaches, spiders). Collaboration and team-building at its best...all with a dash of chocolate! O, yes...summer staff development can NOT be held without the mandatory chocolate. It helps get thru the rough times...when the Internet is sluggish, the AC suddenly goes off, or there just does not seem to be a category for that cantankerous kit.

We don't claim to be experts...most of us would rather have our eye-teeth pulled without the benefits of gas...than to catalog library items. But we all recognize that access and accountability is necessary and so we take the lemons we have been given, come together, and make the best batch of lemonade possible...swweeeeet!

[P.S. thanks to Library girl for the hint at the "I hope temporary issue" of the title box problem!--it worked!]


Library Girl said...

I was there, and I can attest that is is super fun, and so helpful. As a Librarian for 650 kids, 75 faculty members, and with no assistant to boot, I rarely, if ever, have the time to sit down and take the hour per book to search for the record, download it, make appropriate changes, e-mail it to VWB to be loaded, etc., and thus, I have a LOT of un-cataloged books/materials. I was able to catalog an entire box of videos when I was there last month, and it was relatively painless, and the chocolate rocked! ;)

Library Girl said...

Oops! VWB, I forgot... I am having title problems in blogger, too. If you'll put your arrow cursor up right at the tippy top left corner of the title box, and slowly move it around over there (almost what looks like above the box), you'll see the arrow pointer turn into the "I" thing and you can click into the title box. I think it's just a glitch right now, but I was able to make it work after some seriously slow pointer work up in the top left corner. Hope this helps! =)

Camille said...

Even the records we get from vendors need tidying up. Coming together to review cataloging rules is a great idea. You can ask questions as they crop up. Are you using Marc Magician?

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