As I mentioned in my last post, I just picked up and moved from Walla Walla to sunny California, where I started a new job at the California Digital Library. I’ve been at the CDL now for a week and a half, and although there were some big work culture differences I had to adjust to, I think I’m settling in smoothly. My colleagues are fantastic, my work is interesting, and I’m even getting used to being in a cubicle again (earplugs help enormously).
I was hired as a Metadata Analyst, most directly to work on a project called PAPR. PAPR is closely affiliated with the WEST project, which I already knew a bit about, since my former workplace was a member of WEST by way of our consortium, the Orbis Cascade Alliance. For those of you unfamiliar, WEST (which stands, sort of, for Western Regional Storage Trust, but I guess WRST was a bad acronym) is an archiving program for print serials. The libraries in WEST have agreed to collaborate to ensure that at least one print copy of every journal in our collective holdings will be preserved and made available as needed to other members of the program. The intention is to allow libraries to start deselecting years of print journal backfiles, freeing up feet upon linear feet of shelf space.
In order to effectively do this, the CDL is working with the Center for Research Libraries (CRL; oh, there are so many acronyms in libraryland) to create PAPR: The Print Archive and Preservation Registry. And this is what I’m working on. PAPR will be a registry of archiving programs and what titles they have archived. In this first phase, it will be used largely by WEST for collection analysis: the tool that will help WEST libraries determine who should archive what and who else can get rid of it. It will eventually (I think) be a registry for all North American archiving programs. It is pretty neat.
Right now I’m deeply enmeshed in holdings information: How libraries record it in their own systems and how we can automate the analysis of libraries’ holdings data. It’s a messy, messy problem, I’ll tell you what. I’ve been able to find a ton of information about how libraries are supposed to record their holdings data, but not as much about how they are actually doing so. And I’m waiting for various software packages to be installed so I can start looking at large, large sets of MARC data.
It is kind of blowing my mind to think about the trajectory of my short library career so far. I went to library school because I thought I wanted to do data management and analysis in a corporate setting, primarily for publishers. Then I decided I preferred to work for non-profit educational institutions and found myself in a small academic library, where I was responsible for almost everything technology related. And suddenly, less than two years later, I’m here in a (relatively) big library organization working with programmers and diving deep into MARC records and large data set analysis. I can’t even begin to guess where I might end up next.
I’m excited about my work here, although I do miss a lot of things about my previous job. And I’m pleased that, only a week and a half in, I’ve already been able to make contributions to the project and to start getting past training and into the meat of the work. There is a lot to learn, and that is exciting. I love learning new things and I think I’ll get to do a lot of that here.
And being in California? I definitely can’t complain about that. Despite the UC’s bureaucracy and budget problems, I love working for the UC because I support the mission so wholeheartedly. I’m close to my family and close to old friends, my partner will be here in a week, and here to stay, and life feels just about perfect.