Category Archives: professional development

Hints for Job Searchers

I’ve been on many library search committees in my eight years as a librarian, and about half of them have been in the last two years. After looking at that many resumes (so. many. resumes.) and going through that many interviews (so. many. interviews.) there are a few things that happen again and again that never cease to surprise and frustrate me. I’ve hesitated to write a post with advice to job seekers, because I feel like there are already a lot of these kinds of pieces out there. But I still keep seeing the same tiny mistakes that make a big difference, and I figured one more thing on the internet aimed at helping those applying for work in libraries can’t hurt.

Please keep in mind that my experience is related entirely to the academic library environment. Hiring may work very differently in public libraries, and I’m sure it works differently in corporate and special libraries.

In every environment in which I’ve worked, and in most of the places I’ve applied, there’s a search committee made up of people who work in the library who are responsible for most of the process, from drafting the position description to reviewing resumes and conducting interviews to making a recommendation for hire. It’s almost never the decision of a single person, and because the work is done by committee, it takes a long time. You may apply for a job and completely forget you applied by the time you hear anything. This is terrible, and we do our best, but it’s inevitable when you have people who already have full-time jobs who are taking on this additional task. We try really hard not to leave people hanging for too long, and we hope you’ll be patient with our timelines.

When you are looking at position announcements, there are a few things to think about. Generally, if the description says that an MLS is required, that means an MLS is required. Other requirements may be more fungible, but where I’ve worked, that one never is. It might be ok to apply if you will have the degree by the time you begin the job, but that depends on the position and sometimes the institution. When I got my first full-time library job, I interviewed before I’d completed course work and got the job offer on the day of graduation, but I’ve seen other positions and worked in other places where that doesn’t happen as much.

And yeah, I said other requirements may be more fungible. I know position announcements usually have a section for required qualifications and one for desired qualifications, but I also know that sometimes those required qualifications can be interpreted broadly. Think about whether or not the qualification has a definite yes or no answer. For example, if the requirement is “fluency in Chinese,” you either are or aren’t fluent. If it says “at least three years experience,” that is a specific number and you need to have at least three years experience. But if it says “familiarity with COUNTER stats,” well, there’s no specificity about what familiarity means. Do you know what COUNTER stats are? Can you read up a little bit about them and be able to say something halfway intelligent about them? Then you’re familiar. “Experience” can also sometimes be interpreted broadly. I think a lot of people (ahem, mostly women) take themselves out of the running because they are strictly interpreting criteria where there is flexibility. Likewise, though, sometimes people put themselves out there for positions they really, really aren’t qualified for. Be flexible in your thinking, and willing to do a little research, but don’t be unrealistic.

When you’re writing your cover letter (and you should ALWAYS write a cover letter, unless the position announcement specifically says not to include one), think about the people who are looking at it. They are probably looking at a stack of applicants, and trying to do it quickly (because they have that other full-time job, remember?). The easiest way for the committee members to see that you are qualified is if you specifically mention points from the position description. Use the same language used in the position description. Use bullet points if it makes sense, because that will make it really easy for the person reading (let’s be honest, skimming) that letter to see that they should interview you. Same thing for your resume. And yes, you should tailor your resume specifically for the position for which you’re applying. Highlight the experience and knowledge that is specifically mentioned in the position description. Make it easy for the committee to know they should interview you.

Another small detail that people don’t seem to think about is how you submit your interview materials. The committee is probably getting a big batch of digital files filled with a lot of very similar documents.

  • Use a consistent naming convention for your files (like krier_cv, krier_reference, krier_coverletter).
  • Include your last name in the filename (like krier_cv, krier_reference, and krier_coverletter). And put the last name first, so things sort in a useful way if the files are all in one folder on someone’s computer.
  • Submit PDFs, please please please, unless the position description specifically asks for another format. PDFs are way easier to deal with than Word docs, and you can be more certain your formatting will show up the way you want.
  • If it’s an option, submit your cover letter, resume, and references as a single file.
  • ALWAYS put your name on every page of the documents, and especially on the first page. Page numbers never hurt a person, either. I can’t tell you how many cover letters I’ve seen where the applicant’s name is only at the end. And pages of references where the applicant’s name doesn’t appear at all!

It drives me crazy to get disorganized, unlabeled documents. I mean, come on. You’re applying for a job as a librarian. Submit organized documents.

Oh, and people often think a cover letter and/or resume should be no more than one page. That’s not a requirement. No one wants to read a five-page cover letter or a 47-page CV, but sometimes you can’t describe your amazing qualities and attributes in one page, and that’s ok. In academia, it’s actually a little weird to have a one-page resume or CV.

It goes without saying that you should proofread, although I’ve been known to overlook tiny typos and errors. Some people are real sticklers about it, though. And if your materials are riddled with errors, you’re not getting an interview.

And finally, for the love of god, get the name of the library and/or university where you’re applying right. I’ve gotten applications for CSU Sonoma (we’re actually called Sonoma State University), and even cover letters that were clearly written for another position because they mention a different university entirely.

I’ll write a separate post about interview preparation and etiquette, because I have a lot to say about that, too. And interview etiquette goes both ways! I’ve definitely seen not-so-great behavior on both sides of the table.

I hope at least one person out there finds this advice useful. And if I’ve saved one search committee from receiving a page of references with no name on it, I’ll consider this post a grand success.

Any other tips for job seekers? Do any of you have pet peeves that you see in applications, things that just make your want to bang your head on the desk? Share in the comments!

Planning a Website Re-Vamp, Part I

Before I started working in the Sonoma State University Library, I knew re-designing the Library website was going to be a priority. Everyone made it clear to me during the interview process that they weren’t happy with the site and that it had historically been one of the bigger challenges in the Library. Fixing the website was one of the Library’s strategic directions for the coming year and was the first task they had in mind for me when I started in September 2013.

So how did I take on that task? What did we do and what are we planning to do? I’m going to share my answers to those questions here in a series of blog posts. I’m happy with the approach that we took and I hope that my experience might be useful to some of you, especially if you’re in the position of managing a website without a ton of web experience in your skill set. I’m going to share the steps I took, the documents and reports I put together, the tools I used, and my techniques for overcoming some of the bigger challenges, which, as I’m sure you know, are rarely technical and are more about building shared understanding and meeting people’s needs. I don’t pretend that I did this perfectly, and I hope you can learn from my mistakes as well as my successes. I hope I can learn from my mistakes, too; in fact, part of writing this is so that I can take a step back and see where I might have done things differently.

Creating a useful website for a Library is a different beast from creating a business website. We have unique goals and priorities that don’t center around “conversions,” “subscribers,” “sales,” and all the other business terms that are usually used in writing about the web. I want to write something that will help other people who aren’t in traditional for-profit institutions to translate some of the business-speak so that it works for them and their Library and education-centered needs.

We are by no means finished with our “website redesign,” and in truth we probably never will be. Creating a useful website is a process that involves a lot of trial and error, tweaking and changing things as we go to better meet the needs of our patrons. We called the first phase of the project a Website Re-Vamp rather than a Redesign because we didn’t touch on the design portion of the site in this phase. I wanted people to understand that it was a small, first-pass project, a spruce instead of a remodel.

People had two main issues with the site that were laid out in the strategic directions, after hiring a Web Services Librarian (a.k.a., me): they wanted to reduce the number of clicks and reduce the number of silos on the site. Reducing the number of clicks it takes to get to useful information is a common goal. People have come to think that the more “clicks” a user needs to make, the worse a site is. One of the things I wanted to help people understand is that it isn’t necessarily the number of clicks that are the problem, it’s whether those clicks are taking them closer to their goal or making them feel frustrated. It’s quality not quantity, man.

The silos issue is harder to deal with. If you’ve worked in a library, you know all about the silos problem. So much of our content comes from different places and is stored in different digital homes. We have databases and catalogs and digital collections, we have metadata that don’t play well together, and we’ve made only baby steps toward bringing our content together in one easily searchable place. It’s hard to manage and difficult for our users to understand. This problem isn’t one we could solve with a website redesign, but we can make an effort to help people better understand our content and how to find it.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to walk through phase I of our project, which started in October 2013 and wrapped up in August 2014, just in time for the Fall semester to start. Some of the things we did include user testing, surveying, and card sorting, implementing version control, redesigning our information architecture, and redesigning the homepage.

Next week I’ll share the Project Scope document I created for our faculty and staff, and talk about how we decided on the scope of the project and how we communicated about what we were planning.

LITA National Forum

Last week I attended the LITA National Forum in Columbus, Ohio. This was by far one of the best conferences I’ve attended. It reminded me of the regional library conferences in the Northwest area that I loved so much: small scale, and very practical. I love the smaller setting of events like this, because you start to recognize the same faces in events and it is much more comfortable to start talking to stranger. I met some people who I think are going to be long-term libraryland colleagues and friends, and that is awesome.

Columbus might seem an unexpected place for a conference, but it’s a lovely little city. The hotel where the LITA event was is connected to the convention center, and is in close walking distance to a good number of restaurants. Columbus is a very pleasant place. People are friendly, and the restaurants are clearly used to dealing with convention goers: No one batted an eye when complicated split checks were requested. We had a minor reservation snafu at one restaurant, but it was easier to forgive when we realized how majorly slammed they were that night.

The keynote talks given by Eric Hellman, Ben Schneiderman, and Sarah Houghton were all thought-provoking and good, in unique ways. Eric Hellman talked about how the book model is changing, and the publishing models must change and adapt in kind. I like his ideas about a public sector for books, and looking at crowd sourcing for  getting content out to people. I think there are a lot of different ways to explore this, and am personally interested in a crowd sourced model for publishing new content. I believe this is already happening in some areas. I recently contributed to a Kickstarter project to release a fourth edition of the seminal feminist studies text “Borderlands/La Frontera” by Gloria Anzaldua. I think we’re going to start seeing these kinds of things coming up more often. We don’t need editors to be gatekeepers anymore! (Although, we really still need people who can shape, develop, and improve manuscripts before they are released to the public.)

Ben Schneiderman talked about data visualization. He showed us all kinds of visualizations of different types of data, and talked a lot about collaborative data gathering, and looking at information in different ways to draw new conclusions. It made me think about how we might look at some of the bibliographic and holdings metadata we’re working with in new ways, and to wonder how visualizations of that data might help us answer some tricky questions.

Sarah Houghton talked about the future of libraries, and how we can continue to adapt and provide the best services possible. She is an inspiring speaker (and writer), and I like how fired up she is. If there was one thing I came away with, it’s an idea to spend some time brainstorming and visualizing what I think the ideal future library would be. I love thought exercises. I do, however, think that she has some ideas about the services patrons need and want that are very firmly based in the community in which she’s working (the Bay Area) that wouldn’t necessarily serve patrons in every community the same way. I felt that she generalized a lot based on her own community needs, but still had some worthwhile ideas and points to make about library ethics in general. As she usually does.

I saw some great practical presentations on harvesting metadata for institutional repositories, participating in collaborative distributed research projects, building interfaces that can help researchers and students do their work more effectively, and transforming metadata to work in a variety of different systems (which I feel is my bread and butter these days). The best part of all of these presentations was hearing about people problem solving, implementing new tools, being unafraid to try new things, and pushing boundaries to provide better service, whatever that means in their own environments. I came away with a few new tools to research, some ideas for thought exercises, and best of all, a renewed sense of enthusiasm for librarianship, and for the kinds of things we can do if we are determined enough.

I’m eager to mess around with Drupal 7 and the new modules that support linked data. I learned some things that will expand and improve the book I’m working on right now. And I’ve met some people that I hope to collaborate with on some big library metadata problems and areas of interest. All great things, and I’m so glad I went! I’m especially grateful to CDL for making it possible for me to attend such a great conference.

Supporting Librarians

In a re-cap of a Libraries Rebound event put on by OCLC Research Library Partnership, Jim Michalko briefly mentions that the phrase “embedded librarian” might not be a very good one. He argues that the phrase “enshrines ‘other-ness,'” reinforcing that the librarian is somehow separate. He suggest the phrase liaison librarian instead, but I’m not sure that phrase is any better. I think there is still a separateness implied: the librarian isn’t a key partner, but instead is a middle-man between a researcher and information.

I starting thinking about the role that we want to take on with faculty and with students, and I started to really like the title of Supporting Librarian. Our role is to provide support, both to students who are just beginning to learn about the research process, and to faculty who rely on our collections and our expertise. A Supporting Librarian might work to support a department, a particular course, a particular research project…there are all kinds of ways something like this could be organized. But I think this phrase really highlights the kind of partnerships we are trying to build on our campuses.

What do you think? Do you like being considered an Embedded Librarian or a Liaison? Is there another title that would work to convey the relationships we’re building?

Reflections on One Year at CDL

It’s hard to believe I’ve been back in California for over a year now. My one year anniversary at CDL was April 11, and it’s been a full year, with a lot of challenges, and a few bright and shining moments. My work now, and my day-to-day professional life, is very different from my previous workplace. There are times when it’s been a difficult adjustment, and times when I really miss my former colleagues and the work that I was doing. And there are times when I am very excited by what we’re doing at CDL, and the opportunities I’ve been afforded being where I am now. So, like everything, there have been ups and downs.
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Library Week in the Life

It’s Library Day in the Life time again. I do love this project, and I love it when libday posts start appearing in my RSS feed. It’s fun to hear what other librarians do, what other jobs are like, what kinds of work and projects are happening in the field. And it’s fun for me to write up my own posts, too. I’ve participated in this project a few times in the past, and I find it valuable to take time to reflect on the work I’m doing, and how I spend my time at work.

This year I decided to do a single post wrapping up the whole week, instead of trying to write something everyday. Mainly because I didn’t really think I’d have enough interesting stuff going on to post everyday. Lucky for me, I ended up having a more fun and productive week than I anticipated. This felt like my first full week in the office in ages, what with the holidays and a three day weekend, and being out due to minor injury, and going to ALA. I was kind of nervous about that, like what if five straight cubicle days made me nuts? Thankfully, it’s Friday and I don’t think I’m nuts. I think I made it. Whew.

So what did I do this week? The main project I’m working on has been in a phase where the bulk of our work (for now) is done, and other people are doing a lot of work instead. This will change soon, but it’s been a bit slow, and I’ve had a chance to work on some other things.

I submitted an article to a journal, and got my peer review feedback, which indicated that the article needed a lot of work. Ouch, but totally what I expected. So this week I’ve spent a good chunk of every day revising revising revising. And adding more citations. And revising again. I’m hoping to wrap that up today and send it back, with fingers crossed.

In December, I attended a two-day workshop called Leading from any Position, and I was asked to present on what I learned. The presentation was scheduled for this Wednesday, so I spent Monday and Tuesday making slides and reviewing notes and pulling out the most important stuff from an intensive two-day workshop to try to present in 20 minutes. The presentation was a success, and a handful of my colleagues were excited about some of the ideas. I just set up a meeting in two weeks to get any interested parties together to talk more about how we might implement some new things in our projects and in our whole organization. I love this kind of thing, so I’m looking forward to it and hoping lots of other people are excited, too.

We’re gearing up for the next phase of development for the main project I’m working on, so I took some time on Tuesday to pull together a table detailing every part of the project we’re committed to build, what we’ve done, and what we still have to do. I reviewed some open issues related to the website portion of the project to try to pull out what still needs to be done. And I looked at a few recently drafted policies to tease out metadata requirements and get a sense for how we need to build the rest of the system. Finalizing requirements for this project has been a bit of a challenge, so we’re constantly on the look out for unspoken bits and pieces we need to be aware of. I also got some test records for the next phase of the project, so I spent some time reviewing those. I need to do more review, and I have some questions for the person who created them, but it’s always good to see actual records and data, rather than just speculate about what it might look like.

I’m a member of the Staff Council here at CDL, which has recently had a change of leadership. We had a meeting to talk about the direction we want to go in, and how we might revitalize the role of Staff Council here. Our new leaders had a couple of great ideas, and I’m excited to work with them. We just scheduled what will hopefully be the first of many monthly informal lunches, for people to get together and share new things they’re working on, or talk about extra-work hobbies and projects.

The metadata team (well, part of it, anyway) met up to talk about things we learned at ALA and things that are going on in the wider UC cataloging and metadata world. We ranted a little bit about OCLC. It was a good meeting.

I spent too much time troubleshooting a piece of Adobe trial software I was trying to install. I won’t talk about that anymore because it was extremely frustrating.

And finally, I’ve been participating in the Code Year project, which has been awesome so far. I haven’t been able to spend as much time on it this week as I’d like, but I’m hoping to finish up the Week Four lessons this weekend. I love being able to work on this over a sustained period of time: In the past, when I’ve tried to teach myself new programming languages and improve my existing skills, I haven’t maintained momentum. Being sent lessons to work on weekly keeps me driven and moving forward, and it is awesome. And I feel like I’m really learning it: In the past, I’ve learned something quickly, and then just as quickly forgotten it. I think it might be sticking this time!

It’s been a busy week, and it’s proving to be a busy Friday already. I was planning to take lunchtime break to go to the gym, but I think I’ll have to go after work instead. But in my world, it’s always better to be too busy than not busy enough.

Thoughts after ALA Midwinter

I got back from ALA Midwinter on Tuesday night, and after taking a day to ponder all the things I heard and discussed over the long weekend, I wanted to quickly write up a few observations and thoughts. I’m trying to take an overall approach, rather than detailing each session I attended, as I have in the past. I didn’t go to as many presentation sessions as I usually do: I had some committee meetings to attend, and I was trying to do a much better job at balancing conference stuff with my own need for down time.

There were three sessions I attended that shaped my general impressions of what’s going on right now in libraryland: The Cataloging Norms Interest Group session with Diane Hillman, Susan Massey, and Roman Panchyshyn, OCLC’s presentation on the changes they’re making to FirstSearch, and another OCLC presentation (by Kathryn Harnish) on the WorldShare platform and the underlying theories behind OCLC’s strategic vision.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the word that’s been ringing through my mind since I came home is “change.” Yes, everyone is talking about change. Because, duh, we are all going to be facing a crap ton of it in the coming years. The timing of the Harvard Libraries’ announcement about restructuring was kind of fortuitous: Many librarians were talking about change and change management all weekend. Nearly every presentation I heard over during the meeting was at its root all about change.

Diane Hillman gave a great talk to the Cataloging Norms Interest Group about linked data, “From Records to Statements.” And what she said was, basically, “Hey catalogers, get ready, because everything you know will be different.” I think she did a terrific job of explaining how the future of data differs from our existing practices, and why our existing practices won’t serve us well going forward. Cataloging isn’t going to be about record creation and management anymore, and catalogers need to adapt and learn new skills. Metadata work going forward is going to be about aggregating data, working with programmers and developing new methods for handling and using data, modeling and documenting best practices, and evaluating and analyzing data. We’ll be working to create new tools to work with large amounts of metadata: We can’t think about bibliographic metadata on a piece-by-piece basis anymore. We need to make massive changes in our basic conceptual models, and the faster we do it, the better.

The OCLC presentations I attended were also pretty well focused on change: It sounds like OCLC itself is heading in a new strategic direction, and I think that’s a great thing. Kathryn Harnish’s presentation on the WorldShare Platform was well done and interesting, and I’ll probably end up talking more specifically about some of the things she discussed in a separate post. But the big takeaway for me is that OCLC is shifting the frame around what they’re doing. They’re thinking about data on a large scale, and how libraries can use that data in new ways, to improve effectiveness and to cooperate in ever more meaningful ways. I think it’s fantastic. The only thing I have to say, though, is that in both presentations and one-on-one conversations with OCLC folks, I wish there was less jargon and more solid information. They could definitely work a bit on transparency. As I like to remind myself, OCLC is OUR organization, it’s our cooperative. It would be nice if it didn’t feel sometimes like they are trying to sell it to us.

I think most of the librarians I know are aware of the need for significant transformations in the way we work. We have, after all, been talking about this for a long time. Libraries are notoriously slow about adopting new practices, and this worries me. We do not live in a slow world. But I feel hopeful that the constant murmur around change I heard at ALA is a sign that we know we have to pick up the pace, get on the ball, get our shit together, whatever metaphor you prefer for hurry-up-and-make-good, people!

Some things I think librarians should do in the coming months to start getting themselves and their organizations ready for change (self included):

  • Start learning about linked data and RDF. The W3C Library Linked Data Incubator Group Final Report is a great place to start.
  • Read The Age of the Platform by Phil Simon, and think about how data management works outside of libraries (PS – I tried to link to Worldcat for that book, but I couldn’t find it using a keyword, title, OR author search; if OCLC can’t fix stuff like that their ideas about platform driven development are kind of meaningless.)
  • Learn about change management. There are best practices, no matter your role or position in an organization.
  • Start thinking about your own skills and strengths, and your weaknesses. Come up with a plan for learning something new this year. Codeyear has been great fun for me so far. Position yourself well for the changes that are bound to come in your organization, rather than waiting for some kind of training to come from on high.
  • Read about RDA, if you haven’t already. Even if you’re not a cataloger, it will help to understand how library metadata is being conceptualized.

These are just a few things off the top of my head that I want to do this year; I’m sure some of you have more and better ideas for how you are getting ready for big ol’ fancy changes in libraryland. I’d love to hear them. Are there other big themes you’re hearing and seeing in the profession right now? If you went to ALA, what are you thinking about this week, now that you’re home?

Another Shiny New Year

Despite the fact that I’ve been a bit slow-moving into 2012, it is, in fact, here. It’s another new year, and for me, that always means time for reflection and planning.

I’m kind of sad to say that in 2011, I yet again didn’t write as much as I wanted to write. Not even on my food blog, which normally, sad but true, gets a lot more attention from me than this space. 2011 was a big year for me, with a lot of huge changes, so I’m feeling a little more forgiving of myself. But it might also be time to give myself a reprieve on that goal. Maybe I’ll want to write more if it doesn’t feel like such an obligation? Either way, I’m moving into 2012 without making the empty promise that I’ll have more to say.

That being said, I did just submit my first scholarly article for potential publication. I don’t have high hopes that it will be accepted, but I’m glad I went through the experience. It was a far more difficult process than I expected, but it was totally worthwhile: I learned a hell of a lot about linked data (although I still have SO MUCH more to learn), and I got the chance to think through some complicated problems and propose some potentially innovative solutions. I’ve always been more of a big picture person than a details person, so I think I could have done much better at laying out the actual work that would be involved in achieving this vision of mine, but still. I’m glad I had the chance to spend a few months imagining something and problem-solving in big, long-term-future ways. If the article isn’t accepted, I’ll probably share at least parts of it here. And I have to say that I’m extremely grateful to my organization for allowing me the time and space to work on this article, and for considering this kind of work as part of what I’m here at CDL to do.

We wrapped up a major project milestone right before the holiday break at work, which was awesome. We loaded 106 sets of MARC serials records into our database, and are ready to get to number crunching. I learned way more than I ever thought I wanted to know about MARC and holdings records in this process, and while I still wish MARC nothing but a quick and painless death, I’m so glad I had this chance to work so intensely with so many records from so many different institutions. I feel like I have a unique perspective on serials cataloging now, thanks to this project.

In 2012, I’m hoping to find the time to polish my PHP skills and learn more about application development. I’m looking forward to seeing the WEST archiving process play out, and to wrapping up the registry website component of the PAPR project. I’m looking forward to taking on new projects at the CDL, and to meeting more UC librarians as I start serving on CAMCIG (Cataloging and Metadata Common Interest Group). I’m excited for ALA Midwinter in a few weeks, and I really hope I get to see some of the people I met at Annual last year, and to meet more awesome librarians.

And here, at the end of 2011, I want to extend another “Thank You” to the wonderful people at Whitman College. I loved working with all of you, and appreciate every thing that you did for me as a new librarian. In many ways, I wish I could still be with you, working to push the library into new directions and building a great team to tackle all the challenges the future brings. Leaving was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, because you were one of the best groups I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. Thank you, again and again and again.

Here’s my late toast to 2012, and to all of you fellow librarians out there. I look forward to meeting even more of you this year, and to continuing to be inspired by all of you.

Library Day in the Life, Monday

Another year, another round of the Library Day in the Life Project. The last time I participated, I was a shiny new librarian in a new job as Systems and Metadata Librarian at Whitman College. Now I’m a slightly less shiny new librarian in another new job, so I thought it would be fun to participate again, and share some of the day-to-day details of my new job.

I’ve been a Metadata Analyst at the California Digital Library for three months now, and have been working primarily on a project that, at this stage, is very closely aligned with the Western Regional Storage Trust (WEST) archiving program. We’re working with the Center for Research Libraries to build a system called PAPR (Print Archives Preservation Registry) that is designed to help archiving programs with collection analysis and archiving prioritization. The site will eventually provide a directory of archiving programs and a catalog of archived materials. We’ve been working furiously on test data and building the backend programs and databases for the last three months, and are just beginning to accept library data for the next round of archiving by WEST. It’s pretty exciting: We’ll finally be seeing our system in action!

It’s been an interesting project for me so far, and in many ways different from anything I’ve done before. This project has several different stakeholders, and is moving at a very rapid clip to meet some imposing deadlines. I’m learning a lot, not just about serials records, but about project management, prioritization, and communication. Not to mention all the things I’m learning about archiving programs, MARC records, regional collaboration, and the programming that needs to happen on the backend for a system like ours to work.

So, there’s the background about my job. What about the day-to-day? This morning, I came in to find that about 20 WEST partners have submitted contact information, so I spent the morning sending all of them emails about how to submit their MARC records, and updating our project management system accordingly. Hopefully, we’ll start receiving data very soon, at which point, I begin the fun work of closely analyzing huge sets of MARC records to find the outliers, anomalies, and oddities of each library’s records.

Then I spent some time looking at data from our test records that has been loaded into our database. We’re basically putting MARC data into a relational database, which has some fairly significant challenges. I was checking out various control numbers to ensure that the correct data was loaded into the correct fields in a usable way. Our load worked as expected, so yay! But library data is often a complete mess, so boo. Unfortunately, the phrase “Garbage In, Garbage Out” comes up way too often these days.

I’m this year’s chair of the 3M/NMRT Professional Development Grant committee, so I spent my lunch break deleting all of last year’s work from the ALA Connect site before sending an introduction to all of this year’s new committee members. I’m excited about this committee; I had a lot of fun on it last year, and I’m looking forward to meeting the new members and getting to work. Hopefully we have as many excellent applicants this year as we did last year.

The rest of the day will be filled with two meetings: a weekly project meeting, and a meeting to update one of my colleagues on the hiring process for another metadata analyst to join the team. I have some QA work to do on a final set of test data that we’ve converted and loaded, and I have to write a draft of my performance evaluation self-assessment, which is due before we head out for a short vacation on Thursday: We’re going to Portland, OR, where two of my favorite people in all the world are getting married.

This job is very different from my former job, in some ways better and in some ways not as good. But I’m still being challenged and learning new things everyday, which is, to my mind, what really matters, and what makes being a librarian so awesome.

I’m planning to update everyday this week (well, at least through Wednesday), so hopefully there will be some exciting work in the pipeline. Come back tomorrow to find out more about the oh-so-exciting life of a metadata librarian!