Friday, May 26, 2017

What I love about being a Cataloger - Librarian

As this month ends, my contract at the CPU Henry Luce III Library also ends. Due to the moratorium of no hiring for regular employees (due to K-12, and college enrollments are expected to lessen), I could not apply as a librarian. This is my second official job after my first job as a one-man college librarian in Manila.

The Henry Luce III Library is a special place for me. This is where I spent most of my college days, learned about hard work and responsibility, and where I met lifelong friends. The library is a witness to my successes: in graduating with honors, and in topping the board exam. I'm not running out of good books to find. I grabbed the chance to work here to 'give back' in a way. I also have plans to finish my Master's degree in Library Science so I can also teach.

My work is in the Technical Services, where we process books before they are in the shelves. Payments, accounts, and bibliographies are all handled here. I'm in the Cataloging Section, where we encode books in the Destiny Online Public Access Catalog. For some books, we just copy existing cataloging information from other libraries (the UP Library or the Library of Congress, for example), but for some we have to classify and catalog manually. In non-library speak, this is where we describe the book and its subject content so that users can easily search for it. We use a special code, MARC or Machine-Readable Cataloging, for bibliographic data about these books.

One of the functions of a library is keeping books in order so users can find what they need. I am amazed that librarians since the beginning of time have found many ways to organize information. The numbers you can read in the books' spines are not just mere numbers: they are part of a complex system of organizing information for your convenience. Books are not just arranged randomly, they are grouped by subjects and in logical divisions. 

I can say that I like Cataloging, though most librarians find it difficult and boring! You're the first to scan the new books and see what's inside. As a reader, you have an idea of what book to borrow next! You're the one most familiar with the books and what's in them when users ask. There's always something new to learn. Trying to come up with the best location for the book and building call numbers is a welcome challenge.

The Cataloging Section is a crucial part of the library, because how the users are served with what they need also depends on how fast we can process books. Though, it also matters that the records are accurate so a cataloger needs a sharp eye and good attention to detail for mismatched MARC codes, grammatical errors, and spellings. 

As a Cataloger, its always good to see users find what they need when they want it. Good cataloging = great library!

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