These past few weeks have been a bit hectic, considering it’s the end of the semester! On the up side, I think I have found my niche: cataloging! For a person who does not work in a library, cataloging likely sounds boring and easy, maybe even monotonous, but if you like rules (which I do) and you enjoy organization (which I do) and you like details (which I do) then it’s really rather interesting! Of all the areas I have spent time in during my internship, cataloging is the one that’s really clicked!
July 22, 29, & 31 1:45-4:45pm
My past three days in cataloging have been spent entering original records for Honors Theses. These Honors Theses are written by undergraduate seniors at University of Richmond and consist of various majors. Boatwright Memorial Library keeps a physical copy of students’ theses in the library (which is what I have been entering), as well as a digitized copy. These digital copies are online through the Scholarship Repository and can be accessed by anyone. The digital copies have been OCR’d, meaning that Optical Character Recognition has been run on them. OCR is what allows you, as the reader, to open up the pdf version of the document, right click, click on Find, and type in whatever word you are looking for. OCR can be quite helpful for students and researchers alike who want to find something specific in a paper, but don’t want to skim through 100 pages in order to find the specific information. It’s wonderful that these theses are up and available for viewing! The Discovery and Technology area of the library, as well as the catalogers, have been hard at work to catalog and digitize all of the student theses. They’re currently working on digitizing all theses, but that means ones from the early 1900s until today, which is going to take quite a bit of time. Once a thesis has been digitized, however, the link to the digital version is inserted into the catalog record, which makes it even easier to find.
My first day (second in cataloging) creating original records for the Honors Theses was pretty enlightening. I entered 5 records. I had many questions along the way, such as when to use a period (called a full-stop in the ISBD punctuation rules for RDA) and when to use a colon or a semi-colon. Each field also has the potential to enter one or more subfields, such as whether the item being cataloged has illustrations, if there is a place associated with the work; for example coal mining may have a geographical subfield in the subject line for West Virginia. As I’ve said, there are many rules involved. What I appreciated the most from my first day creating records was realizing how much time it takes to enter each one. In 3 hours, I was only able to enter 5. During these 3 hours, I was also continuously referring to the online MARC21 bibliographic record rules. These rules list out what is entered in each field, as well as various subfields, and first and second indicators. These indicators mean different things, for example one indicator in the Title field tells the computer how many spaces to skip before the title begins. For example, when entering a title name that has a first word of “The” you would enter the #4 to tell the computer to skip over the word “The” and begin with the first full word after “The”.
The third and fourth days were also spent entering records. During the third day I corrected the various mistakes I had made on the 5 records I entered during my second day. I had considerably less mistakes to correct during my fourth day, mainly because I learned not to do things I had done the previous time, but that’s not to say I didn’t make them during my entry. Several times I had to go back into various records and correct something; this also forced me to look in the MARC21 rules to understand the reasoning behind entering certain fields and subfields and punctuation a certain way.
While my internship is officially over, as of today, I have volunteered to work in the cataloging department for a couple of weeks. I am so thrilled that the catalogers are allowing me to learn more about cataloging and share their extensive knowledge with me! During my additional two weeks, I will keep up with this blog, but as I learn more about cataloging the posts will likely become more technical.
If you would like to see what a catalog record looks like to a patron, as well as to a cataloger, click the link below. (This is one of the records that I entered). The link will take you to a catalog entry that is the patrons view; i.e. what you would see if you searched for this particular item. Next, look to the right hand side where you will see “Staff View”. Click on “Staff View” and you will then see what a catalog entry looks like from the catalogers perspective. I hope that it will allow you to gain a greater appreciation for what catalogers do, as it certainly blew my mind the first time I saw it!