Or, An Easy, Breezy Day (Somewhat)
Today was nothing like yesterday. I wasn’t tearing my hair out over some tough decisions I had to make, though there was some frustration over some painstaking work I did in the morning. In fact, most of the day was actually quite relaxed. And I definitely needed this kind of day to offset the first two days this week.
Here’s the approximate breakdown of my day:
- 2 hours -reading/responding to emails (throughout the day, including answering a couple of surveys)
- 3.5 hours – Southeast Asia serials review
- 1.5 hour – meeting with catalogers; chatted with other folks in cataloging; looked at show shelves & serials shelf
- 1 hour – getting to/from technical services building
- 1 hour – reading social media links/feeds
As is often the case, lunch was again at my desk while reading emails/feeds.
I’ll Take It
Today, I had intended to focus on and make some headway on my annual Southeast Asia serials review, but a number of small but good tidings made today a much more relaxing day:
- The field director for LC CAPSEA sent out an email late last night saying that we have a few days grace period from the deadline of July 28 to get out profiles and serials review done. Obviously, I still have to the work in the next few days, but it gave me a little bit more leeway for how quickly I needed to accomplish it.
- Our monthly area studies meeting this morning was cancelled, so that’s 2 hours I didn’t have to spend in a meeting and around which I would have had to schedule my other work.
- I have some interns coming for the month of August, and I have to do a lot of prep work before they come. I thought I would have to do that this week/weekend, but I checked the starting date this morning, and they’re not starting until August 8. So, I can do that work next week and focus on the serials the rest of this week.
All these gave me some breathing room, and I took it!
It’s in the Details
After emails/social media stuff during the first hour of the day, I began on the serials review. Like the profiles I was working on on Monday and Tuesday, I have to do a review for each country. Last year, I did a thorough review of 6 of the countries, choosing to do first the countries for which we already had a number of subscriptions since you can add new serials throughout the year, but you can only cancel during a set period.
I had intended to begin by looking at the countries that I didn’t do last year, which I did initially. Since I didn’t really have many or any subscriptions for these countries, this means going through the list of serials and deciding which ones I would like to add. Some titles I can easily cross out just by looking at the titles. But for most, I have to look up OCLC records and see what the subject headings are, as well as look at the CAPSEA website to see if the titles are being received regularly. (Many titles take a couple of years to be received, e.g., the latest issue received might be from 2008.) I also have to check if we have subscriptions through other vendors or if we have access through online databases. It’s also helpful to know if any other other UCs have access. Too many things to look up, and there are hundreds of titles!
So, you might understand why I then got distracted and started looking at my Excel spreadsheet from last year and checking if the cancellations had indeed been cancelled and the additions added. I also wanted to add the new subscription prices so that I can do my budget more accurately, since serials are included in my country budgets. For Brunei, everything was fine. For Burma, I noticed that none of the cancellations had been recorded and two additions hadn’t been included. So, I have to write to LC Jakarta but, then, I thought maybe this was a good time to think if I really wanted the new serials that hadn’t been added after all. That way I only had to send one email. I didn’t make any decisions yet, so email not sent.
I also noticed that, for Burma, the conversion rate seemed to be off — annual subscription rates were in the thousands of dollars! Another thing to include in the email. For both countries, I could see in CAPSEA’s records that issues had been sent but they don’t show up on our catalog. Something I have to pursue with the acquisitions department and with my assistant.
Then, I started to look at the cancellation list sent to the West Coast Southeast Asian librarians. This is important because there are only so many institutions subscribing to each serial. The most subscribed serials probably has less than 10 subscriptions while most titles only have 2-4 subscriptions, including LC. LC doesn’t really count because you can’t ILL their stuff. So, when cancelling, it is important to look at whether there are remaining subscribers.
I then decided that I really needed to go back to the countries I hadn’t done yet. I had started with one country when I first started this work, but I thought I should go with a more important country. But then time ran out. So, as you can see, I did a lot of work, but I was all over the place. I will just have to be more focused tomorrow.
Woman Around Town
I had a 1pm meeting with a couple of our original catalogers who have been dealing with the backlog of Southeast Asian materials. My library is located in the northeast side of campus, while our technical services building is on the opposite end, just a little bit outside of campus. I had a choice of either walking or taking the campus shuttle there; I decided to walk since a) it’s the slightly downhill direction; b) it was a nice day; c) I could always use the exercise; and d) I wanted to take this opportunity to show you around.
It took me about 35 minutes on an easy pace to get there, and here are some of the places I passed by. (You’ll have to forgive the quality of these pictures since I was mostly just walking and taking quick photos, without really trying to necessarily get the good shots. I probably have better shots elsewhere, but these are the ones I took today.)
This is the Bruin statue, located in Bruin Plaza, between the student union and the Wooden Center (in the background).
This is the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, on the southwestern edge of campus. (On the lower right hand corner of the picture is the campus shuttle I could have taken.)
This is the Fox Theater in Westwood Village, the site for numerous movie premieres, including the Twilight movies.
On the same street, some vendors were setting up for the small weekly farmers’ market.
And, here is my destination: Kinross Building South, a low-lying, ivy-covered, trailer-type building that I don’t think was meant to be permanent. It is home to our acquisitions and cataloging/metadata departments.
Going, Going, (Almost) Gone
The reason the catalogers wanted to meet with me was to show me how much inroads they’ve made into the backlog of Southeast Asian materials and to come up with a plan to deal with what’s left. See, here is the problem. Almost all of the 11 Southeast Asian countries have different languages, including major languages like: Bahasa (Indonesian and Malay), Tagalog, Thai, Burmese, Khmer, Cambodian, Lao, and Vietnamese. Some are Romanized (with and without diacritics), while others are not. And that’s just the major ones. But each country has other languages — e.g., the Philippines has Bisaya, Ilocano, etc. and Singapore has Chinese and Tamil. I can only read 2 Philippine languages: Tagalog and Bisaya. And there is no one in the cataloging department who has Southeast Asian language skills.
Part of the reason I rely so heavily on the CAPSEA program is that the materials come with LCCNs (Library of Congress control numbers), so that we can at least look these up in the LC catalog. The LC records are usually minimal-level cataloging, but it gives catalogers a starting point. For languages in a different script, they can at least get the transliterated version and use that to search in OCLC. However, way before I started here, there were a lot of materials that were not obtained through LC, and these were what constituted the backlogs. Also, the ones for which I wanted full cataloging ended up here since they had no way of really providing full cataloging if they couldn’t read the content.
A couple of years ago or so, I had told them what I do to come up with subject headings. This basically meant looking at the records of institutions that I know have catalogers in these languages and comparing their records. If the choice is providing no access to the materials or this sort of copy cataloging (though often still not full records), I chose to go this route. The original and copy catalogers came up with workflows, and that is how they have managed to almost eliminate my backlog. Yay!
This is what the Southeast Asian shelves now look like:
Isn’t that beautiful? I would have to dig up the pictures I took before so you can see the difference.
We also talked about what to do with the remaining materials. We have a couple of options, and we’re starting to explore them.
After the meeting, I stopped by to talk with the serials cataloger (I actually didn’t know where her office was), especially since I have new subscriptions from last year. I discovered a snag, so will have to deal with that first. I then visited another original cataloger and chitchatted with her. I rarely visit this building (due to the commute time and because I have other priorities), so I don’t get to interact with these folks much. So, it was nice to be able to visit with some of them.
There And Back Again
And, finally, here is my library.
Once I got back to the library, it was harder to focus, so I mostly did emails and looked up stuff. I’ll have to buckle down tomorrow, though.
So, there you have it. That’s how my day went. What a difference, huh?