A Night Off

June 28, 2006

Last night after work, I was completely unplugged – no homework, no email, no blogging (reading or writing), no internet surfing, no work from home, etc. It was wonderful – and just the thing to recoup from the homework assignment that I had due on Monday. But now, it is back to cyberworld!!!

To Get Personal or Not?

June 26, 2006

As a rather introverted person, I often share very little of my personality with those people who I do not know well. This isn’t necessarily intended – I’m simply tend to be very quiet. I don’t often talk to people unless they talk to me first (not because I think this is right, just because). In junior high school, I was voted “most quiet” and only escaped that title in high school when the powers that be decided they would prefer to have more innovative “most likely to” lists (a fact for which I will forever be grateful). However, in one class during my senior year, the teacher had everyone pick another student’s name out of a hat and write a synopsis of that person’s life for the next 10 years. The person who picked my name wrote a rather hysterical piece about “my quiet existence.” It was predicted that I would marry a mute and due to the lack of verbal conversation eventually stop speaking altogether. Fortunately, despite my quiet nature, I have a great sense of humor – and probably found this synopsis funnier than anyone else. I am happy to say that I did not marry a mute (Don’t many people marry opposites? This is also partly because I don’t often talk to quiet people) and actually do enjoy talking to people – just not in crowds. The point of this, is that when trying something new (like blogging), I am often unsure and tentative. It usually takes time for me to feel comfortable enough to open up about myself or to participate. This is one reason why I have added very little of a personal nature to this blog.

However, I have to say that some of my favorite blogs have a great deal of personal information that makes one feel as if they are getting a glimpse of the person behind the written word. Much of this introspection was prompted by a really nice post by Mark Lindner at . . .the thoughts are broken . . . who lets a great deal of himself shine through in his blog. I really identified with his comment that “This whole web thing is so very odd.” It seems very odd that one can create a web presence and people actually do read it. Much like Mark, I spend time looking at feed stats and web stats and often wonder about those who read my blog. Given that I initially created this blog as a way to document my progress through graduate school with content in which only I would be interested – and possibly my professors or advisors since I plan to use this as the base for my eportfolio – I am often amazed that there are people who do visit the site. I generally don’t obsess about it – but mostly because I don’t let myself think about it. But again, “This whole web thing is so very odd.”

Anyway, Mark (since you asked), I find your blog very fascinating and enjoyable. You often have a different perspective on topics than I do, but I am a firm believer that this is how we learn, expand our own knowledge base and gain the confidence to form our own beliefs. I don’t often read your posts about the music you are listening to or the movies you have seen, but have come to understand that these are important parts of your life. Don’t change a thing!

The other post of a personal nature that I really enjoyed is Meredith Farkas’ post You may not be the person you think you are from Information Wants to Be Free. The past couple of years have been (probably just the start) of a journey of self discovery for me. Returning to school has been part of this whole process where I have been trying to challenge the “safe boundaries” that I have set for myself throughout the years. Meredith put it better by asking what if you aren’t the person you think you are. While my story is of course different than Meredith’s (I have always been very happy with the person I am), I took comfort in her story. Despite being happy with the person I am, life throws curve balls at incovenient times that can make one doubt one’s selve. So, we have to throw some of our own curve balls back at life – and I think that trying to look at ourselves in different lights may be part of this. Thanks Meredith!!!!!

Ultimately, these two posts made me realize that the addition of personal information helps to add tremendously to one’s blog. Without a doubt, my favorite blogs contain a great deal of personal reflection. I also think the personal reflections are an important part of my journey through graduate school – and through life. Sometime, I will share the story of why my biggest fear in life is blue toilet paper (yes, it really is!).

Update: Comments on this post over at Life as I Know It via Blogger.

First Assignment Completed

June 26, 2006

I just emailed my first assignment for ILS506 (Information Analysis and Organization) to the professor. I have to say that I am incredibly nervous and stressed out about this one. We were given 5 titles to catalog and were asked to cite the rules from AACR2 that supported our decisions. Now, I am pretty familiar with MARC formatting, but this assignment was killer. I can’t even say how many times I changed my mind about what information should be put where. I spent the entire weekend with my face buried in AACR2. I feel as is I have a great grasp on the rules, but not always how to implement them in situations that are not clear cut. Additionally, my classmates were asking questions in the class discussion area all weekend about specific rules, etc. I had to stop reading their questions because they were making me question decisions that I had already made (and thought I was fine with).

At this point, I am thrilled that I am done – and trying to not worry too much about the grade (which is 25% of the overall grade). There isn’t anything I can do about it now. I definitely need some space from AACR2, MARC tags and all of the rest of this cataloging stuff!!!

Homework is Going Well

June 22, 2006

I have been faithfully spending time every day working on homework – and this is definitely a necessity with cataloging! I have started work on the assignment that we have due on Monday evening – an assignment to catalog 5 different books with full descriptive cataloging. So far, AACR2 rules for title statements (245), edition statement (250 – this one is way easy), publishing information (260), and physical description (300) are perfectly clear. Well, admittedly, sometimes the title statement can get tricky – especially with translated works, works attributed to material by others, etc. The 4XX and 5XX fields are becoming a bit clearer. Obviously, they are still complicated for items with many notes or bizarro series titles – but, I’m getting the hang of it. I haven’t been working that long with main and added entries. As such, I need more time exploring how to create these. However, I’m feeling as if I have a good basis for the upcoming assigment. And that is a relief. Four days ago, I was getting nervous because I was still very confused. Anyway, my head is filled with visions of MARC fields – and I think that means I’m done for the night!

Fun with MARC Fields

June 21, 2006

Well as resolved, I did immerse myself in homework last night – immersing myself in AACR2 rules for the 245, 250, 260, 300, 4XX, and 5XX fields. This week, we are focusing on access points (main and added entries), but I did think I could use some refreshing on the 245, 260, 300, 4XX and 5XX fields (the 250, I have down). I feel like I have a good handle on them (well, much better than I did yesterday). I will admit the whole 440/490 – 830 thing will take some work to get down. But, I know I was getting tired while trying to master the question of figuring out the appropriate Series Title and then deciding whether to index it or not. And then the decision about indexing the title in a different format in the 830???  My head was spinning before I gave up to watch the Red Sox dominate the Washington Nationals. (I like big leads – watching the game is much more relaxing that way).

So, I think that spending some time on this each day will be essential to keep up. The good thing is that much of the work is cumulative. Each week, we catalog several new documents – and that helps keep the earlier stuff fresh in my head. Anyway, I feel much better about this class than I did even a week ago. Repetition is key to much of these principles and rules. I will admit that reading and interpreting AACR2 is no fun!!! On to main and added entries . . .

Back to School Work

June 20, 2006

Ok, I pretty much just lost the post that I wrote under this heading – my first blogging mishap. ARGH!! I’m thinking that the loss of the original post may be a sign that since I was writing about my need to buckle down and do some homework, I really should not worry about it. Unfortunately, that won’t work. I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about, reading about, writing about and thinking some more about OPACs and how to make them better. While this has been great for helping me come to grips with this issue, it hasn’t been so great for my school work.

So, I resolve to :

  • dedicate my entire evening doing homework – committing AACR2 rules to memory (ok, that may not happen)
  • dedicate some time every day to working on homework
  • get cracking on my cataloging assignment that is due on June 26th
  • end my blogging addiction. Fortunately, help is available

Additional Thoughts on the OPAC

June 19, 2006

Helene Blowers at Library TechBytes points out that we, in the library community, share responsibility for the state of our ILS systems. She suggests that we have demanded that ILS vendors create specialized systems that are tailored to our individual organization with little thought of flexibility. I would agree. I think that today’s mind set of being able to customize programs and interfaces per library, but more importantly per user, is a relatively recent concept. Helene also points out how difficult it is to change people’s habits. Again, I agree. Many library people are not unhappy with their ILS systems and/or OPACs. They may accept them because “this is the way it has always been done,” because they actually don’t find a problem with it or for any number of other reasons. Many people do not like change – they will accept something the way it is simply because they prefer the devil they know to the one they do not. Overcoming this attitude is hard. It requires agents of change who can gently handly many types of personalities. Only when a group is ready for change, can we move forward. Achieving this desired change requires a great deal of self-examination (library as self). Re-examining circulation and collection procedures should definitely be revisited. A natural part of Library 2.0 (or just normal evolution – I like Meredith Farkas am not a big fan of labels) should always about questioning existing policies and procedures on a regular basis.

So ultimately, we aren’t just looking at ways to improve our OPAC. I think we are looking to improve our libraries and our way of business. Most of our policies and procedures were developed before the internet, before the advent of full-text resources, etc. Maybe we should be starting by looking at our mission statements, reexaming our services, question everything, think about all aspects of our day-to-day business. Only when we truly understand ourselves can we even begin to try and understand our patrons. Hopefully, if we do it right, we will be better able to deal with future changes in a more timely manner.