Juliane Schneider, Academic & IT Divisions
I’ve been a cataloger/data wrangler for much of my admittedly weird career. I’ve never worked in a basement (always ground floor), but I speak MARC. I can tell you that, after hearing the despairing pleas of thousands of dietary voices, MeSH has recently changed the heading “Cookery” to “Cooking.” “Fleas” are now “Siphonaptera” which is quite the evocative term.
After 15 years of being all tech-servicey in a web startup, insurance library, medical center, religious headquarters, and publisher, cataloging is still about to be dead, our jobs are about to go away any second, and we remain undervalued, even by our fellow librarians.
Ah, Tech Services. We are the emo band of librarians.
We make resources easily discoverable, available, downloadable and deliverable, and when we do our jobs well, we become invisible. But–BUT–the LMS-es we deal with are becoming obsolete for our users. No longer must they wade into separate libraries to use disparate databases; here at Harvard, 70+ libraries are in one catalog. Our fancy new Aquabrowser delivers Googlized results, but I can’t find what I want in there, and I’m the one who cataloged the stuff!
Here is our Opportunity! We could work with the reference staff to create smaller, savvier, discoverable bits of resources tailored to local users. To do this, good cataloging is crucial to create the crosswalks for the records to go wherever the information needs to be presented, in a way that makes sense to individual users.
As Metadata Librarian what I really do is run around and find interesting things to do/cause trouble. My goal: projects that could involve Tech Services in an ‘embedded’ fashion. Countway Library is sandwiched between the Center for the History of Medicine, one of the premier historical medical collections in the world, in the basement and the Center for Biomedical Informatics, on the top floor. The one thing I desperately want to do is to take the resources from these three places – past, present, and future – and make connections.
Another project, Tech Services as content producers. This is probably my favorite paper ever: http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000361. They took an article on tropical disease, added semantic links to the uBioPortal, and used the raw data from the authors to create geospatial and serological mashups (they call it ‘Data Fusion’ – sexxxay!). This is the kind of thing that Tech Services needs to add to their repertoire. It will make the faculty happy (up that ‘cited’ number with more dynamic publications!), it will make administration happy (our repository is better than their repository) and it will make us happy, because it is visible and makes a connection with people outside Tech Services!
A last project I’m working on is to place QR codes on the ends of stacks that, when scanned, will list the books shelved there. For once, the user can access a true shelflist of our resources, and instantly know what is on the shelf, and what is remote. I call that sexxxay, but maybe it is really just geek cataloging.
Juliane Schneider is the Metadata Librarian for Countway Library, Harvard Medical School. In addition she works with the Center for Biomedical Informatics, the Center for the History of Medicine and Administration on projects from creating a Curriculum Management System to creating an autism ontology. Currently, she is Chair-Elect of the Academic Division and Secretary of the IT Division. In the past couple of years, she has a program planner, so she’s looking forward to SLA 2011, where she won’t have to worry about A/V and room setups! You can connect with her via email@example.com, or on Twitter @JulianeS.