In December 2009, I started a job as a Student Specialist in the Monographic Acquisitions Division of the Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. That’s a mouthful. In other words, every time I go to work, I pretend it is my birthday. My ‘mailbox’ is full of boxes! I open boxes and boxes of monographs — books — that have arrived to be processed for the University of Washington, and I get them ready to be received and cataloged.
Since I’ve started this job, my to-read list has doubled, tripled, quadrupled. I find books I want to read, books my dad should read, books (I think) would be helpful to former instructors, books for friends, books for enemies, books for my brother, etc. I keep a list of these books. I’ve started putting them with the tag ‘toread’ in my LibraryThing collection. (That’s another blog post)
This is a different library job than I’ve ever held. I’m used to being out with the people (students and staff) and helping them. Now, I sit at a desk and listen to audiobooks and podcasts and public radio. The job is completely low-stress, but it is not what I want to do with my life.
Just last week, I was introduced to the wonders of cataloging. When they told me this, I thought to myself, “Why on earth would they have ME catalog books? I haven’t taken any classes to help me do this…” Then I found out that the vendors and OCLC actually create records that they send along with the monographs. My job as “cataloging” is to make sure the information is correct and add in the call number and a barcode.
Not difficult. Very important. It’s almost monotonous, but I have to pay attention and stay engaged because there will come a day when the record will be goofed up and it is my job to catch it. So I guess cataloging is kind of like the week after your birthday. You go back to your typical life and check the mailbox once a day. But you have to check the mail carefully because a late birthday card might arrive.