I imagine I am currently going through a process that most of library land embarked on a decade or two ago. I am currently staring down a spreadsheet that contains the rudimentary begins of our digital catalog. The work was begun years ago; it predates my own student tenure at the college. For all that, it has gained a layer of the digital equivalent of dust, having been untouched for some time. One of our first challenges is to dust of this spreadsheet and use it for a full catalog read.

I confess, I am gaining a new respect for those institutions that are able to enforce a regimen of rotating shelf reads through their collection. I know that the data I have does not encompass a number of new donations and acquisitions, so the challenge is real. How did library land manage the original transition to digital? I have been looking as I have time, but so many institutions have been digital since the 90s that there is not a lot of information to be had. What little I have found is all in terms of obsolete technology.

Thus far, I am scrubbing the data in preparation for the shelf read: noting apparent duplicates, adding publishers, dates, and full titles to those records which contain ISBN numbers, and trying to note how many records have been barcoded. There was a project several years ago to start the OPAC process; it got as far as adding some books to this spreadsheet with barcodes, to eventually be loaded into an OPAC. I do hope that methodology will still work; my attempt at building and converting to an Access database did not go as well as I had hoped (though to be fair, it has been about 5 years since I built anything in Access).

Food for thought: are there better ways to do this project? Is this simply an example of the manual labor of love involved in building this library back up? Have others had success with Access as a “bridge OPAC” to coin a phrase? As for me, you’ll be able to find me buried in my excel spreadsheet, dreaming of the day we finish our digital conversion 🙂

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