library day in the life 7.4

Or, A Day for Details

Today was supposed to be a day to buckle down and focus on my Southeast Asian serials review. And I did do that. But I also didn’t. I had a hard time getting started this morning. In my usual check of various email accounts and social networking sites, I was seeing so many great links to blogs and articles that I spent a little bit more time on it than I’ve been doing during the earlier part of this week. Then, I started really chugging on the serials, though there were some minor distractions here and there.

Here’s the approximate breakdown of my day:

  • 3 hours – emails / social networking / feeds (including during lunch & snacktime)
  • 4.5 hours – serials review
  • 1 hour – reference desk (brought circulars)
  • .25 – stretching (am), looking for snack (pm)
  • .25 hour – student consult

The Main Road

Serials review was the order of the day. It was extremely painstaking work; it involved:

  • looking at last year’s list and transferring notes for the titles to this year’s list
  • looking up all the titles on LC CAPSEA (Library of Congress – Cooperative Acquisitions Program for Southeast Asia) site, including those not on the list (just to be sure), to a) check if other institutions have cancelled and b) see if the publications are relatively current
  • looking up our catalog records for titles we’re supposed to have and see if a) we have a record for them and b) if our holdings match what LC has listed as sent to us, then writing notes for each title on my Excel spreadsheet
  • looking up on OCLC for titles we don’t have and check the holdings of other institutions, especially UC Berkeley, as well as to find out subject headings for titles that I don’t already have notes for
  • checking list sent by the University of Washington for titles that they are cancelling
  • deciding whether to keep, add, or cancel, then writing notes on the spreadsheet
  • adding totals to another spreadsheet that’s keeping track of budget for both monographs and serials

I didn’t get very far at all. It took me 2 hours to finish Brunei, and that’s one of the easy countries to do. I worked on Burma for 2 1/2 but didn’t quite finish. There has to be an easier or smarter way to do this. I do believe, though, that once I do all this heavy work for all countries, then it will be much, much simpler work in subsequent years.

Side Roads

Though I had a clear project, I needed to work on, I also had to do a couple of things, such as:

Reference Desk: It actually was very quiet because a) it’s summertime and b) our main floor is being renovated and the reference room is so hidden that you really have to be determined to get there (or, more often the case, you really want to borrow a laptop, which is in the same area as the reference desk). To get to the desk, you have to go down the stairs from the ground level and go down this hallway. (Follow the light…)

When you reach the door, you see our fancy sign.

This is what the inside of the temporary reference reading room looks like.

This is the view from the reference desk.

Circulars: For some countries, LC CAPSEA sends out circulars, or lists of titles; these come monthly. Since I knew the desk was probably going to be quiet (and it was to hard to do my serials review over there), I brought along circulars for the Philippines and Vietnam. All I did today was to go through the list and cross out the ones I already know I don’t want, based on title or brief description. (Afterwards, I give it to my assistant or student to search on our catalog and OCLC for UCLA and other UC holdings, as well as to get subject headings and/or descriptions (since most of these are in languages I can’t read) before I then make my decisions.) A note about Vietnam circulars: They are especially challenging because they do not have diacritics, and the Vietnamese language is all about diacritics. So, searching for more info is very difficult and time-consuming. I am really missing my student assistant (as I’m sure my staff assistant is), who won’t be back until the winter quarter.


In addition to the things mentioned above, I also ended up doing other things, because a) I needed a break and b) I needed to deal with it right then before I forgot. These activities included:

  • reading social networking posts/feeds – I get so much info through FB and, now, Twitter, especially related to libraries and librarianship. Examples from today include:
  • sending an email to the Preservation Officer – I saw him in the office, which reminded me that I had a couple of old materials in my possession: a set of ledgers and letters from early 20th century Philippines and an old Indonesian book of unindentified script. I want to add these to our collections, but they are in pretty bad shape, so I want to see if they’re salvageable. He had to rush off to a meeting, so I sent him an email instead.

This is the cover of the Indonesian book. I think it’s leather.

These are letters of previous owner (?) trying to ascertain the script; there is also a reply from a some expert — he didn’t actually know the answer, but he thought it was some sort of bastardized Arabic.

And here’s the actual content of the book. Do you know what script that is?

This is the packaging for the Philippine materials; they belonged to a Mauro Tayko of Dumaguete. Have you ever heard of him? I wonder if it was sent by Donn V. Hart, well-known anthropologist and Philippine specialist.

These are some of the papers on top, including a telegram (remember those? I never did get a chance to receive a telegram) receipt and a letter, both written in Spanish.

Also included are ledgers, like the one below. As you can see, it’s in terrible shape.

  • look up classrooms for an instruction session – I know I’m supposed to do an instruction session in a week, but I actually hadn’t thought about the details (too many other things to think about!). An email from the instructor nudged me, and I started to see if our classroom is available. However, it will all depend on how many student there will be — I might have to book a classroom that requires permission from other people, so I started looking at possibilities. As this is a summer course, I realized that this might be a session that’s more than an hour — that’s going to require more thinking/prep work. I sent an email to the instructor; I can’t really move forward until I get more info. (Just got an email from the instructor: one hour is fine–whew!– and 25 students–have to book a bigger room.)
  • impromptu student consult – Okay, I admit it. I don’t like it when students show up and think that I automatically have time to meet with them. I usually don’t. I have other deadlines, and I have a lot these next two weeks. I especially don’t like it when they show up 10 minutes before I have to leave work. (I am on a vanpool, and I have to leave exactly on time, or there will be 10 ticked off people waiting for me.) I asked if it was something that can be answered in 10 minutes, and they said it was just a quick question. Of course, it wasn’t.

The quick question was: where is the section for Filipino materials? The answer: there is no one section; it would depend on what your specific topic is. They didn’t really know, so I told them to do some exploring first. I quickly showed them the library website (which they’ve never been on), the library catalog, and a federated search tool for general databases. Then, I said to make an appointment for additional help. I have to say that they were quite appreciative, so I’m glad I saw them after all.

So, that was my day. It was tiring; my back was aching by mid-morning. By late afternoon, I needed a little something sweet to reward myself and to keep myself awake, but I went searching for it too late; the store next door was already closed. Fortunately, there was a little bit of leftover ice cream from last week’s retirement party. Yay! I was winding down my day with some ice cream and reading of emails/feeds. Until the students interrupted me, that is.

But it’s all good. I had a good evening. I’m going to bed late again, though, writing this post. Tomorrow, more serials review. Oh, joy.


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