A quick glance at Twitter for #saturdaylibrarian will generally reveal a number of librarians, in various degrees of caffeination, musing on the various reference questions they receive throughout the day, the amusing books they weed from the collection, or a general meditation on why there is never enough coffee. In many respects I am a lucky Saturday Librarian. Work study tends to happen on Saturdays, as well as music practice, so there is no shortage of bustle but few questions to be answered. The only downside was that by the time I got down to the caf for coffee, there were no mugs or cups to be had. It made me regret not installing an espresso machine in my office.
Things continue apace at the library. We are slowly combing through the extant catalog and comparing it to the books on the shelves. The issue is the amount of time it takes to manually compare title, author, call number, and barcode as well as note poor condition. Combine that with the fact that books are not always shelved in order, and you have the makings for a long library journey. My assistant slugs through, pausing every so often to wonder aloud why books are not in order, or why a single volume appears in the catalog as 4 distinct records. All valid questions, though there’s not an answer to any of them.
As you can see from the picture, there are no shortage of books moving in and out of the library, we simply lack the technology to track the movement. The first step will be implementing a rudimentary check out system. That way, we can at least consult the check out records to confirm if a book is circulating as opposed to missing when we reach that part of the shelf read. The last of the blank catalog cards will be pressed into service to function as check out records (see? Already recycling materials. Long live the card catalog!).
I’m of two minds on the manual circulation process. It is comforting to know that in some places, the access to materials is primary, to the point that tech systems limitations don’t stand in the way. We simply find a way to track what we can and make the system work. On the other hand, its a lot of manual labor. In two hours, I worked my way through 45 records, including shelving the books. Its an abysmal check in rate when you consider how quickly such things can be done when using even the most basic electronic system. While there is romance in the old library with its card catalog and lovely bookshelf check in, while it makes some secure in the borders of their green world, there is an advantage to be had in using some technology. Surely our time can be better spent then laboriously checking items in. Anyone else out there struggle through analog processes in a digital world? I’m open to any tips to move the process along.
In the mean time, I return to my records for cross check. Happy Sunday!