Interview with a Cataloger

I received an email yesterday from a student at the University of Pittsburgh’s iSchool. She just started taking a cataloging course and has some questions for catalogers. If you’d like to answer any or all of these questions, please send your response to Rebekah at As a teacher, I love talking to new cataloging students about the profession and I am looking forward to answering Rebekah. I hope some of you will answer her, too!


Some Questions for Catalogers from Rebekah

1. Can you describe a typical work day?

2. What is your favorite part about your job? What is your least favorite part?

3. What are the five most important things you learned in library school? (Or five things you wished you had learned in library school.)

4. Are there any resources you would recommend for a beginning cataloger?

5. Why do you think so many librarians dread the thought of cataloging?

6. Have you read Richard Murray’s essay “The Whimsy of Cataloging”? (Available here: Does his love of cataloging resonate with your experience?

7. What are some of the most bizarre LCSH you have come across?

8. Do you consider yourself a cataloger or a metadata librarian? How do you see these roles evolving?

9. In your library setting, how are materials processed? Who does what?

10. Can you describe how authority control is implemented? Do you contribute to NACO or SACO?

11. What ILS do you use? How do you see ILSs generally evolving?

12. Do you see any role for social tagging in cataloging?

13. What do you see as the future of AACR2?

14. What is your opinion on RDA and the changes that may be coming?

15. What attributes make a good cataloger?

16. Are there any other questions I should be asking?

Download OverDrive ebooks to your iPad *without* iTunes!

I just happened across a post by Liz Castro on her blog, Pigs, Gourds, and Wikis, that explains how to create a bookmarklet on your iPad that will allow you to browse to your library’s OverDrive page (ListenNJ, for all you Jersey folks), and download an ebook to your iPad for reading with Bluefire Reader. This is cool because you no longer have to download the book to iTunes on your computer and then transfer it to your iPad. Liz gives great instructions, too!!

I just love technology! Especially when it works.

Evolving Technologies in Libraries

Last night I had the opportunity to talk to students in the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at Queens College in New York. The students are all in their first semester of library school, and the course is LBSCI 701: Fundamentals of Library and Information Science (taught by Andrew Jackson, executive director of the Langston Hughes Branch of the Queens Library in Queens, New York.

The topic of my talk was technology in libraries, and this post is for the students who wanted additional information about some of the things I spoke about.

To Andrew’s students:

This list doesn’t cover everything we talked about, but I figure you can do a Web search for additional information on things not on this list.

  • PDF file of my presentation slides
  • Tame The Web: Libraries, Technology and People by Michael Stephens – blog about technology and libraries… “Michael has spoken about technology, innovation, and libraries to audiences in over 25 states and in four countries, including a 2008 speaking tour of Australia.”
  • What I Learned Today… – “Web 2.0 and programming tips from a library technology enthusiast, What I Learned Today… covers blogs, rss, wikis and more as they relate to libraries.”
  • Bluefire Reader – the reader that allows you to read library ebooks on your iPhone or iPad
  • EPIC 2015 – short movie by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson. “The movie is presented from the viewpoint of a fictional “Museum of Media History” in the year 2014. It explores the effects that the convergence of popular News aggregators, such as Google News, with other Web 2.0 technologies like blogging, social networking and user participation may have on journalism and society at large in a hypothesized future.”
  • PennTags – “PennTags is a social bookmarking tool for locating, organizing, and sharing your favorite online resources. Members of the Penn Community can collect and maintain URLs, links to journal articles, and records in Franklin, our online catalog and VCat, our online video catalog. Once these resources are compiled, you can organize them by assigning tags (free-text keywords) and/or by grouping them into projects, according to your specific preferences. PennTags can also be used collaboratively, because it acts as a repository of the varied interests and academic pursuits of the Penn community, and can help you find topics and users related to your own favorite online resources.”
  • Podcast Alley – podcast directory; includes information on podcasting software, too
  • LISNews – “Blake Carver’s online Library and Information Science News Digest. Apropos articles culled from a variety of sources.”
  • Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki
  • SlideShare – to view PowerPoint presentations and videos that others have shared (you can do a keyword search to find presentations on a specific topic)
  • Real National Treasure: An Inside Look at the Library of Congress DVD – the DVD is available for purchase from the Library of Congress; the episode is not available for viewing on the Modern Marvels website, nor is the DVD available on Netflix.
  • Instapaper – “A simple tool to save web pages for reading later.”
  • Zotero – “free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work–in the web browser itself.”
  • Readability – “simple tool that makes reading on the Web more enjoyable by removing the clutter around what you’re reading.” Did I say it creates citations? my bad. I meant that it can convert hyperlinks to footnotes… Sorry…
  • Livescribe – smart pen lets you “record everything you hear, write and draw. Tap your notes to play back your recordings. Save and share interactive notes to your computer, iPad or iPhone.”

Also, if you do a web search for emerging technologies in libraries, you’ll find all sorts of additional information. There are several “Emerging Technologies” librarians writing about some really interesting projects. Finally, I encourage you to find a few blogs by librarians writing about your areas of interest and read them periodically. Blogs are a great way of keeping current! So, is Twitter, and there are many librarians using Twitter, too.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions about anything. I enjoyed talking to you all last night!!

Three Days in the Life…

I have very little discipline. I had every intention of posting every day this week about my  job as a librarian. The week is half over and this is the first time I’ve visited my blog since Monday.

So, what do I do at the library? Well, my job title is “Electronic Resources Cataloging Coordinator.” In a nutshell,  I keep my eye on the “big picture” in terms of electronic resource (eresource) cataloging to make sure nothing falls through the cracks plus I catalog eresources.

We subscribe to many eresources and have only a few staff cataloging them. There are two serials catalogers who do print and electronic. Their supervisor also catalogs print and electronic resources, but not just serials.

I catalog mostly eresources (databases, websites, and other online documents plus statistical data) with the occasional printed codebook thrown in for good measure. I used to catalog CD-ROMs but those are now cataloged in another unit. Every now and then I receive a serial on CD-ROM to catalog.


I try to get to the library before 9am and am usually successful (I’m not a morning person).

I work on the second floor of the library in a room shared by five people. I end up giving directional assistance to lost patrons because my cubicle is closest to the door. The second floor is divided into two sections and you can’t get from one to the other via the second floor…

I check email and respond to anything that can’t wait when I arrive at the library. Then, I look around my desk to see what I want to work on. The nice thing about being a cataloger is that I can choose what I work on (within reason – if something’s a “rush” or something, of course I catalog it first) and when I work on it.

This morning, I edited some bibliographic records (the online equivalent of catalog cards) for some titles that are part of our subscription to Alexander Street Press (ASP). As part of our subscription, ASP provides MARC records, so rather than doing the cataloging myself, I retrieve the file of records, make a few modifications to the records and load them as a batch into our online catalog, Voyager.

The cataloging for the ASP titles is fairly good and consistent, so the only modifications I make to the records are adding a local call number “Electronic Resource” and removing unnecessary fields and subfields. I useTerry Reese’s wonderful MarcEdit to make these changes. After I resave the file of records, I batch-load them in Voyager. This is just a matter of starting a macro (written using Macro Express) and letting it run. The macro opens the file of records, adds a field to the record for our cataloging statistics, saves the record, and creates and saves a holdings record.

Unfortunately, while the macro is running, I can’t use my computer for anything else, so I have a laptop. While records are loading, I use the laptop to do other cataloging–the things that can’t be batch loaded.

Today I worked on material (social science data and accompanying documentation) from Data and Statistical Services, a part of the library’s Social Science Reference Center.

Well, the train is getting ready to go into the tunnel, so I’ll stop now. (I’m also a cellist and am currently playing in the orchestra for West Side Story on Broadway. I’m headed to the theater now…)

Stay tuned!

A blog, eh?

Or something like that. That was the title of my first post on my old blog. It turned out that I really don’t have much to say, so my blog usually contains announcements of some sort.

This morning I encountered another blog by way of a friend: Library Day in the Life.

Whether you are a librarian or library worker of any kind, help us share and learn about the joys and challenges of working in a library. Join us by sharing details of your day for a week on your blog. Not only is this a great way for us to see what our colleagues are doing and how they spend their days but it’s a great way for students who are interested in the library profession to see what we really do.

  • Round 1 July 2008
  • Round 2 January 2009
  • July 27th 2009 begins the Second Annual

I missed the first round of this but it seems like a pretty cool idea, so I’ve decided to participate this time around. Today is day one. I just arrived at work after waiting for the gunman on campus to leave. It’s true.

Actually, there was a report of a gunman, but it turned out it was someone with a water gun. Yay.

OK. Time to work. More later.

Oh. Here are some photos of my workspace (my apologies for the poor quality):

Slides and Audio from “Pay-Per-View Options: Is Transactional Access Right For My Institution?” (ALCTS Electronic Resources Interest Group)

The ALCTS CCS Electronic Resources Interest Group presented a panel discussion “Pay-Per-View Options: Is Transactional Access Right For My Institution?” on Saturday, July 11, 2009, from 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. Presenters and participants shared their experiences and questions related to providing access to journal content without submitting their bottom lines to costly and sometimes little-used journal subscriptions.

Slides and audio from the session are available on ALA Connect:

Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) – A Conference for ALL Librarians

We had a steering committee meeting for JCLC 2012 (Joint Conference of Librarians of Color) this evening, and I was  so happy to see the new pin we had designed for the conference. We have a limited number of pins, and they are only $5.00 each. The pin will probably be the first of  a limited edition collectors’ set. How cool is that?! If you’d like to purchase a pin, email me at

JCLC 2012 Limited Edition Pin

JCLC 2012 Limited Edition Pin

I had the privilege of attending the first JCLC, and it was probably one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in my career as a librarian. The conference is truly for ALL librarians, not just those of color. The energy and passion in the atmosphere at JCLC I made me proud to be a librarian.

If you’d like a pin commerating the 2nd JCLC, which will be in Kansas City in 2012, let me know. Likewise, if you’d like more information about the conference or are interested in presenting at the conference, please let me know. It’s truly a unique experience and opportunity.

ALCTS CCS Electronic Resources Interest Group at ALA Annual-Chicago

In a world where funding is decreasing and demand is increasing, libraries and librarians are looking for ways to provide access to content without submitting their bottom line to costly and sometimes little-used online journal subscriptions.

The ALCTS CCS Electronic Resources Interest Group invites you to attend its panel discussion “Pay-Per-View Options: Is Transactional Access Right For My Institution?” on Saturday, July 11, 2009, from 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m, Chicago Hilton, Continental Ballroom B.

The discussion will center on the experiences of libraries and publishers as they implement and manage transactional access models at their institutions. The panelists will discuss why transactional access was right for their institution, the driving forces behind their decisions, the implementation process, technical implementation and management of the access, and the outcomes of their endeavors. Following the presentations will be a “question and answer” period, as well as an open forum for audience members to share their experience(s) with fellow session participants.

The panel includes:

Pay Per View – Where We Were, Where We Are and Where Are We Going Next?

Beth R. Bernhardt
Jackson Library
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Between 2002 and 2003, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) set up several different types of pay-per-view options that provided users with over 3,500 unsubscribed titles.  A few years later the library set up access to many of these titles through Consortium Big Deals. This presentation will talk about what options the library experimented with, what is still there, compare its pay-per-view statistics with its big deals and discuss how libraries might use pay-per-view options in the coming years.

Developing a Pay-Per-View Model in a Financially Challenging Budget Year

Nicole Mitchell and Elizabeth Lorbeer
Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Anticipated reductions at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, for fiscal year 2009/2010 will result in a content budget of roughly half what it was four years ago.  The library went from having packages with almost every commercial and society publisher to just a few packages in 2009.  Over 4,500 titles were cancelled for 2009, with only 52 journals being reinstated by user request.  In exploring a solution for next fiscal year, the library began to investigate investing twenty percent of its journal budget to subsidized pay-per-view by setting up deposit accounts with the publishers, with a goal to significantly lower user fees for article access.

Fast Food Nation/Google Generation/Financial Down Turn…Meet the Library

Ryan Weir and Ashley Ireland
Murray State University
Murray, Kentucky

Murray State University has recently undertaken a project that will be the inaugural step in its transition to both providing optimized digital access and change of the landscape of its journal acquisitions from a model that has been traditionally print to one that is primarily electronic.  Alongside this transition, the library also added a just-in-time element to its previous just-in-case-only model.  During this presentation, participants will have a window into Murray State’s experience, including: the driving forces behind its decisions, its selection of Science Direct as a vendor, the implementation process, the outcomes, and where the library sees itself headed in the future.

Transactional Access: A Publisher’s Take

Mark Rothenbuhler
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The final presentation will offer the perspective of a major publisher about its experience offering streamlined article access via prepaid tokens. Mark Rothenbuhler from Wiley will discuss the realities and potential benefits of transactional access to journal articles to libraries and publishers, and offer suggestions as to what libraries should be thinking about.

Call for Papers: Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

CCQ welcomes the submission of research, theory, and practice papers relevant to the broad field of bibliographic organization.

This journal, published now 8 times a year by Taylor & Francis, LLC, is respected as an international forum that emphasizes research and review articles, description of new programs and technologies relevant to cataloging and classification, and considered speculative articles on improved methods of bibliographic control for the future.

Articles are particularly welcome in areas dealing with research-based cataloging practice, including user behavior, user needs and benefits.

Authors are encouraged to submit manuscripts via email with attached word document to the Editor, Sandra K. Roe, Bibliographic Services Librarian, Illinois State University  (email:

Special Issues
Colleagues interested in guest editing a special issue or expanded double issue are invited to contact the Editor with a general proposal, tentative schedule, and CVs.  Previous special issues have included:

*Metadata and Open Access Repositories (Michael Babinec and Holly Mercer, Guest Editors)

*Bibliographic Database Quality (Jeffrey Beall and Stephen Hearn, Guest Editors)

*The Intellectual and Professional World of Cataloging (Qiang Jin, Guest Editor)

*Knitting the Semantic Web (Jane Greenberg and Eva Méndez, Guest Editor)

*Cataloger, Editor and Scholar: Essays in Honor of Ruth C. Carter (Robert Holley, Guest Editor)

Annual Best Paper Award
Taylor & Francis sponsors an annual prize for CCQ with a small financial stipend for the Best Paper of the Year.

Free Print Sample
A free print specimen copy may be obtained by sending an email to <>

For More Details
Further details may be found at the CCQ home page:

Title Change (Major): Jennifer Lang is now Jennifer Baxmeyer

Effective immediately, is no longer active. You may have noticed that I wasn’t posting much, anyway.

My new blog address is

Cataloging-related posts will feed automatically to Planet Cataloging.

My contact information is now:

Jennifer W. Baxmeyer
Electronic Resources Cataloging Coordinator
Princeton University
Firestone Library Room 2-7-G
Princeton NJ 08544

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