Monday 30 January 2012

Library Day in the Life - day one

This is my first post for the Library Day in the Life Project, Round 8. For anyone who doesn't know I work as a cataloguer in two departments at Cambridge University Library, the Tower Project and English Cataloguing.

Monday is the one and only day of the week that I spend working with the Tower Project at Cambridge University Library. The project originally started in order to catalogue the secondary Victorian material in the tower and has since moved on to the Edwardian period. This material was considered of limited academic importance at the time of receipt and so was stored away with little or no thought as to how it would be retrieved. The Tower Project was set up to provide catalogue records for these books and has been a resounding success.

Currently I'm cataloguing books from 1913 and that’s how my day began today. There was the usual mix of fiction, school books and religious pamphlets. These all require cataloguing from scratch since there are no quality records for the material. Today provided some interestingly titled books such as “Why Girls Go Wrong: How the White Slave Gangs Work” which was a novel featuring a cover picture of a rather dastardly man in a top hat attempting to kidnap a young lady whilst twirling his dangerous looking moustache (just to make it clear that he’s a bad guy!).

I spent most of the day cataloguing and dealing with the usual complications that this throws up. Today I had some horrid German fiction (which people on Twitter generously offered to help me with) and some authority problems to solve. The research part of cataloguing has always been my favourite part of the job. I like to see if I can solve the puzzle of finding the correct author or subject heading. Today’s selection required more effort that the usual glance at Wikipedia and took a good portion of the day.

My other main activity for today involved putting the finishing touches to this week’s Tower Project Friday blog post. We try to post a ‘fun’ item every Friday and this week it’s my turn. I spent some time correcting mistakes in the post and playing around with the arrangement of the pictures to try and make the post look appealing. Contributing to this blog has been a good way to develop my web developer and art skills! I really enjoy the blogging part of my job with the Tower Project since it allows me to do a bit of outreach and show off some of our finds. It’s a way of reaching out to the wider world and showing them what we have that I find very rewarding.

I spent some time at lunch reading through various blog posts and having some discussions with other cataloguers on Twitter. One blog post that particularly caught my eye was @millieshoes post about the value of the library MA. It's a really interesting read which has provoked a good discussion.

From tomorrow I spend the rest of the week in the English Cataloguing Department, but more about that later...


  1. Also by WN Willis : Western men with eastern morals.

    Somehow I don't think that he considers this a positive trait.

  2. You do get some strange stuff in the Tower ....