Sunday, June 28, 2009

English Short Title Catalogue at the British Library

At this section of the British Library website you can locate titles for books published between 1473 and 1800. If the material was published in the UK or its possessions, Colonial America or any place else on the planet, and it was printed in English, it very well might be listed in this database.

English Short Title CatalogueNow short title does not refer to the length of the actual name of the book. As you can see from the example below, titles could be quiet descriptive:

My understanding is that it refers to limited or special publications produced quickly. I'm thinking like pamphlets, broadsheets and the early equivalents of instant publishing.

As you can see, you can view the records in a variety of formats such as a three line summary listing, full MARC tags, or which institution has the actual document.

This is a good resource if you are researching ephemeral publications that give a sense of time and place.

It is also valuable if you want to brush up on your MARC skills if it has been long time since you have sweated a MARC code. Check it out.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

First Days - Part II

I did not foresee that I would face frustrating days the last two weeks at my library aide job at the elementary school following my last post. I thought my last two weeks which is now stretching to yet another week would be a much smoother ride. Unfortunately, that has not been the case and has made it rather difficult for me to post further on this series. Overall, I still love my job even though it has its moments.

I had wondered before if I should post first about the pros or the cons of this job. While I do want to encourage people to consider working in elementary school libraries as a potential first library job, I realize it may not be a good fit for all. One thing I've come to realize is that you really need to have a passion about your work to get through the tough times. But one could say that about any job.

I figured I'd just be dealing with collecting books and lost book fines along with getting the library in order for the following school year during this last month. In addition to all that, I've been dealing with finding out our school district was getting the brand-new Alexandria automated system to replace the supposedly outdated and soon-to-be obsolete Athena system. I found out about our training days the morning it had begun as I arrived to work. Due to not being kept in the loop, I missed most of the training even though I attended the second day. Everyone from the high school libraries were in attendance but most of the elementary school library aides were not in attendance either day.

It made me wonder about how important they regard their elementary school library aides. We are expected to single-handedly run these libraries on little hours and funds in retrospect to the high schools. We are the stepping stones as we serve the K-8th grades. Shouldn't we be regarded with more importance?

I later found out that the principal of our school had been informed at least two weeks in advance but he failed to let my immediate boss or me know. What happened to direct communication, I wondered. Even at the elementary school, the communication process seems to fail time and time again. My immediate boss asked the office to let her know when the new Alexandria system arrived so she could put it together. Since they didn't let her know and I assumed she knew it had arrived, our new library system has sat in the library in unopened boxes for at least a week now. Not that I have time to familiarize myself with this new system amidst all the piles of unshelved books!

So that brings me going in next week at least two days to finish my work up on my own time. I've tried my best to get as much done in just the ten hours a week they gave me this year. But it's not been an easy task and usually I end up putting in more hours unpaid. It's virtually impossible to do all I need in that short stretch of time. They realize that but still that doesn't solve the problems at hand. I realized going in most of what my job would entail of me. It's what you don't foresee that can throw you for a loop. Remaining as calm as possible is not always an easy feat though I've done my best to do so these past couple of weeks.

This isn't quite the next post I had in mind when I started this series. But perhaps this will give you a honest glimpse into the reality of being a school library aide. This isn't the last of the series so stay tuned for the pros and more cons. Hopefully, that won't deter you away from these much needed libraries.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday Morning Reflections

I'm avoiding doing the list of things I swore I was going to do today. They will get done but I wanted to put down a few thoughts about life, and the library program.

I've received my certificate months ago. My idea was to start working in a library as I continue other adventures. I didn't think that was going to be a problem. I did not anticipate the mortgage and related financial crises putting a serious crimp in my plans.

I also didn't anticipate a series of life events to knock the stuffing out of me. If this should happen to you I'd tell you honestly to do the best you can and quit worrying.

This is why they call it life, you take what you are giving, using the skills you have and find a way of dealing with the dreary and the impossible.

I am optimistic.

I've heard through the various grapevines that I am involved with that there are cities around the country that are closing libraries for two weeks cold. Not even the libraries web sites will be active.

Other libraries are having mandatory furlough days for their employees. In California, who knows how the hammer is gonna come down on state and certain local libraries but make no mistake there will be an impact.

Because there is still a need for what librarians, paraprofessionals, librarian assistants and technicians. It might be we will need to look at opportunities in the private sector.

Large law firms certain have librarians and library assistants but with the (hopeful) changes in health care there should be more options for our services.

I can tell you the software programmers and entrepreneurs definitely need our services but they don't know it. For those that have an interest in cataloging, open source development, taxonomy or programming you could make hand over fist money. You might have to convince folks of your value but I'm telling you the computing industry needs us.

That is one of the keys - having more than one skill set. I am doing a lot of writing these days. I will tell you that everything I learned in the program is being used on a daily basis.

Sometimes I use those skills to help colleagues find or verify information. I can use my writing as a way to point to credible or alternative information sources using the guidelines on how to evaluate a source.

Many times I'm researching topics I have little or no information about and I want to understand both sides. I can't tell you how many times I've been able to find what I need to prove a point with factual information by following the processes we learned in class.

You know, let me be straight with folks.

I know some of you are or were in the program because your job required it. All you want to do is keep your job, shelve books and do what you are told. You aren't interested in technology or the next new thing. You want the paycheck, health care and two weeks in July.

That is cool. I understand and respect that point of view.

There are others of you that want to be librarians in physical buildings assisting patrons, sniffing book dust and being of service, even if it means chasing the pervs out of computer room.

That is cool too. If I get the financials in place I hope to be one of Tsk-Tskers myself someday.

No matter how you see your life/work path keep learning. I don't care if you are 18 or 80 you have to keep informed. For your financial safety you have to have more than one body of knowledge or set of skills that you can call upon.

What do you know that another person might value?

I'm not necessarily talking about academic knowledge, thought that is certainly important. Knitting. Fishing. Knowing the difference between the Red Skull and the Red Claw.

Knowing the differences in BBQ styles in the country from mustard, vinegar or those that apply the magic rub. Whatever you know that is special, even if it is your family history, adds value to what you bring to any so-call job or employment.

This is a time of social networking. Well, networking has always been social but instead of face to face it is now includes keystroke to keystroke. You now have the opportunity to make connections beyond your immediate physical area.

The point I am taking way too long to make is to implore you to engage in some form of networking or electronic social networking. You should also continue to add to your personal knowledge base and take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Oh and have some fun too. Very important.

So I will be still posting on the blog from time to time. Not as much as I would like. I feel bad when I don't post a gem that I think the LT community would be interested in or you should know about.

Don't forget to dive into the archives - there might be something that answers a question from long ago that pops up again and again.