What’s in a name?

My official title is Catalog/Metadata Librarian. Yes, that’s catalogSLASHmetadata librarian. Since starting my job a few months ago that slash has become sort of a joke around the library. Folks asking how many slashes can I fit on my wall label and stuff like that. So that got me thinking about my slash and its meaning.

I’ve heard from other professionals to avoid jobs that hyphenate or slash titles since you are essentially being asked to perform two jobs – two jobs that the administration decided for some reason or another to merge into one job. This seems like often the case during recession times when cutbacks force employees to take on more responsibilities outside their singular job description. While understand this worry, I do not believe that is the case for my job. Cataloging is the kind of library work that constantly changes. As technology changes, so does the methods for creating bibliographic records. Rules change, hardware changes, software changes, and so do our titles. Catalog librarian. Catalog/Database Management Librarian. Electronic Resources librarian. Metadata librarian….

My slash reflects our profession in transition. As we move away from standards like MARC21 and Z39.50, and evolve toward newer technologies like linked data and RDF. Being versed in both traditional library cataloging and emerging metadata standards is essential for the “next generation” cataloger.

But is this shift generational? I supervise several paraprofessional cataloging staff whom have been working at the library for over 40 years. When I think about the ways their work has changed in that span of time, it boggles my mind! I literally joked with one of my employees about updating headings with electric erasers!

So I embrace my slash, because I’m more than a cataloger and more than a metadata-er. I fluidly created MARC records and edit XML based on whatever discover tool our collections require. And I’m sure both tools and titles will continue to change with time.

Hello world!

This is a personal blog by a young academic library cataloger in the Green Mountain state. After four years of living in Brooklyn, my wife and I packed up and headed north for our great adventure.

Why would I ever leave Brooklyn for Vermont? In Brooklyn I was a free-lance metadata consultant working for an open-source software firm and I was teaching two cataloging classes at one of the three library schools in NYC. Life was good, but I wanted more. Afterall, I had my MLIS – so I wanted to actually work in a library! I wanted more experience so someday I can be a better teacher. When my wife showed me the post for a catalog/metadata librarian position in Vermont I jumped at the opportunity to apply…and the rest is history.

Since starting my job three months ago, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons that they definitely did not teach in library school:

  • ILS systems are not relational databases
  • Local practices are a pain but very useful
  • Not everything is done according to standards
  • Supervise paraprofessionals 30-40 years your senior (more on that next week!)

So I started this blog to have an outlet. I will try to post every week on various topics that deal with cataloging. Stay tuned!