Tag Archives: Cataloging Project Librarian

Autumn brings staff changes

While I have been a part of the project team since the project began early this year, today I step into my new role as Cataloging Project Librarian for the French pamphlet cataloging project as Eric moves into his new position as Acquisitions Manager.  Over the past two years I have worked on several special collections projects at the Newberry Library as a Cataloging Project Librarian, including cataloging materials for the Newberry’s Roger S. Baskes Collection of cartographic and travel materials and theological and rare materials in the McCormick Theological Seminary Collection and collections identified via the Gannon Initiative.

Because we are now almost a year along in the project, it will be an opportune time to take a fresh look at our workflows and to meet with the project team to discuss what types of training have or have not worked for them.  One thing that has worked especially well for us is our project wiki, which has been not only a great research tool for cataloging activities but also an invaluable reference tool for documenting project guidelines and workflows as they evolve.  More feedback to come as I begin my new position!

Time to get ephemeral

This month I joined the French pamphlet project, where I will be principally responsible for cataloging the Newberry‘s Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials.  I have worked as a Cataloging Project Librarian at the Newberry Library since 2008.  I am adding this collection to two others that I am currently working on, one mostly cartographic and the other mostly theological.

Case Wing Z 45 .18

This collection consists of several hundred pieces of ephemera (prospectuses, catalogs, manuscripts, etc.) related to bookselling and publishing, mostly in 18th-century France. Cataloging such ephemeral objects is a special challenge. Authorship and publication information are not always readily apparent. I have been investigating the online catalogs of a few special collections libraries like the American Antiquarian Society to see how other libraries handle the subject analysis of publishers’ catalogs and prospectuses.  Once I have drafted a workflow and template records for myself, I will meet with curatorial staff specializing in printing history to ensure that I’m capturing information that will be useful to users of our collections and online catalog.

Now the Hard Work Really Begins

When writing a grant proposal, it seems like nothing could be more complicated, time consuming and difficult. While writing the CLIR proposal, I was gathering and coordinating information and ideas from many people at the Newberry. Curators provided information about the collections; reference librarians talked to me about how and how often the collections were used; and the staff who coordinate Fellowship Programs helped me sort through decades of files to learn about scholarly activities. I had to fact check financial information with the Business Office and Human Resources and verify technical needs with IT.  Documents needed to be signed, letters of support and commitment needed to be  requested, and drafts needed to be written, circulated and edited.

When a proposal is funded, the first week  after hearing the news is so much fun you can almost forget how much work went into planning and writing. After getting award letter from Charles Henry at CLIR, I spend a lot of time sending out “Good News!” emails to all the people who helped write the grant and I received all sorts of congratulatory messages back.  There were after work drinks with coworkers and even some friends (who still don’t really understand how  “cataloging”  is different from “data entry”) suspect I might do something important and interesting.

It’s only after that  first project meeting that you really realize how easy the writing was compared to actually doing all the work that has been planned! This is especially true if the project, like ours,  is a “Pilot Project” that will introduce new workflows and staffing and requires us to develop training modules, devise new job descriptions and assemble an entire team before we can even start our production work.

Lucky for me, help is on the way! Our project officially begins on Monday, January 3rd and Eric Nygren, who will take on the key professional Cataloger role, will be ready to go. Eric is currently a Cataloging Librarian here at the Newberry and I have already worked with him on an ongoing project to catalog the Roger S. Baskes cartographic collection. In addition to his cataloging experience, Eric has the French language skills required to work with the pamphlets. Equally important, Eric has  some training and project management skills that we will be relying upon and developing in the upcoming years.

Welcome to the French Pamphlet Project, Eric!