Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Thing 5: reflecting makes me think of Narcissus

So, hot on the heels of Thing 4 is Thing 5. Reflective practice. I think my current volunteering stint may be suitable for this.

I am currently being a volunteer at a satellite copyright deposit library, helping to catalogue runs of journals that were placed in storage when several libraries merged. I attend one day a week for approximately 90mins.

I am given a journal title, and I wander off into the labyrinth to find all the back issues. Some are boxed, some are loose. After they are sorted, I am being taught how to create and update paper shelf lists, which is a very accurate list of a journal title (and variants), bibliographic number, place of publication, year and exactly which volumes, issues and parts are held. They are arranged by classmark, which is the ever-confusing in-house mix of Library of Congress, Dewey, and size. After the lists are created, an excel document is checked and updated to ensure the information is correct. I am then learning how to catalogue, using the Voyager Cataloguing module. Each record is updated, or created from scratch, and as much information as possible is added to the record. Once this is completed, the journals are re-boxed, and new boxes created to hold the loose issues. They are then reshelved.

I am enjoying working in a new place, and learning new skills. Although it is a slow process, I know that my contribution, small as it is, may help a researcher or student in the future to find the article they are looking for. This may even save the university money, if they had been requesting inter-library loans without realising they already had the title needed.

Although it is not relevant to my current library assistant position, I think it will give me additional skills that I may be able to apply to other jobs, and prove that I am very keen to extend my knowledge and experience, on top of studying for my librarian masters degree,


  1. Hello,

    I will be starting an MA in September and am starting to consider how I might go about getting experience cataloguing as I think it would be a really useful skill to have. I was wondering, how did you get your voluntary position?


  2. Hi, I happened to bump into someone I used to work with in a bookshop at a libraries conference, and she mentioned she was looking for assistance. My MSc doesn't include cataloguing, yet we need it for the work we'd be doing after!

    I see you're in Oxford (stalky stalky!) - perhaps ask around in the departments or colleges to see if there's some retrospective work going on somewhere. If there's a liblist email there like there is here, you could even send a message round. Its amazing how much experience one can get if one doesn't expect to get paid!

    Good luck


  3. I got into cataloguing after mentioning at a monthly "brown bag lunch" that I didn't get a chance to catalogue. Like Katie I then got a couple of hours a week helping on a retrospective project. Although it was voluntary, in return I was being trained and helped every week, so it felt more like an apprenticeship. This later led onto some work on rare books at a different library... then an opportunity for a part-time secondment with more responsibility and a chance to catalogue at my current place of work on the back of the experience gained.
    Keep going - it is worth the effort :)