ASSOCIATES (2006, March, v. 12, no. 3) - associates.ucr.edu
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
I worked thirty years in various positions in academic and public libraries since the 60's. In May 2005, I got an MLS from the University of South Carolina (one course at a time for three years) and was hired at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Hunt Library on August 22, 2005 as the Serials Librarian. The position is a combination of acquisitions, cataloging, collection management and maintenance.
Wendee Eyler asked me to write about my experiences as a new librarian, but I think that might be a little boring at this point. I am learning a great deal and don’t quite know how to describe that to anyone. I’ll think about it a little more.
What I have found interesting is the invitation to reorganize a complete library. The church that has adopted me has a library without a librarian. Some years ago this person spent endless hours cataloging a lot of books into an organized entity of Dewey labeled materials. She did a great job as far as I could tell, even developing a card catalog and procedures for check-outs, etc. The plea from the Church was that no one used it because they couldn’t figure out the system.
I know, Dewey is one of the easiest systems around, but these people didn’t know it. I suggested some education of the group, but that was not going to be sufficient. People thought it should be a lot easier to use. After visiting the facility a number of times, I suggested that we convert to a simple subject arrangement based on whatever the books were about. In several months, we have been able to rearrange, identify subjects, weed the collection and reprocess the books for immediate use. We have a rather substantial reference section with Bibles (all different varieties/translations/revisions), Atlases, Concordances, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Study Texts, and some others of note. The general categories include: Angels, Church History, Church Organization, Missions, Self-Help, Theology and many more topics that will enlighten those who browse. We also have sections for AV materials, Children’s books on two different levels (preschool classes and after-school classes), Biographies, Fiction and some Meditation Readers.
The reprocessing started out to be a nightmare, but I purchased different colored dots and we placed them on the books to match the signs. There is no internal classification within each subject, just match the dot to the colored dot on the subject label. This appears to be simple, but we shall see. At least we will be able to spot check walking in the room. Since there were not enough colors to differentiate, we used some colored “smiley faces” dots as alternatives.
I have already seen the fruits of our labor when folks wander in and begin to smile as they find things that are familiar to them. We have placed our first notice of “change” in the monthly newsletter and are hoping for an open house sometime after NASCAR leaves town. In the meantime, I will be highlighting some books from the library in the weekly bulletins to stimulate usage. We will begin to develop memorial programs and other ideas to motivate the giving process and listen intently for new ways to change until we get it right!
Now I can concentrate on the Minister’s Library to help him find things for his theological research. That should be a real challenge.
Consider your many skills at organization and the many ways one can arrange materials. You too could be making a difference somewhere for all kinds of people. I do private libraries for extra change, Church Libraries for fun and my academic library as my everyday routine. Creating organization from chaos in private libraries is a great challenge. Pattern the organization by the usage of the materials, the focus of the research, and the people using the information. One of my favorites was creating a library about homeopathic medications, which included books, periodicals, audios, videos and slides. The doctor using the library was able to find what he needed and write several books in the past four years that may change dentistry forever. Another favorite was the cataloging of a bromeliad slide library which resulted in being able to use the slides for program planning and creation. The organization was instrumental in sharing their programs around the world and that motivated people to contribute more slides. I had offers to do a number of other libraries, for example, one of hymnals from all over the world. It was extraordinary, but they retired and donated the books to a seminary, I believe.
What we learn in our jobs helps us to help others in the community. It’s fun and challenging and a touch of our souls in the right places. Take your Dewey, LC, Subject, or other schemes and get to work in one of the best professions – library work. No one asks if I am a librarian and I never say “I’m just a ...” It is a time of great creativity, learning and freedom. It is a passion! Have fun!