ASSOCIATES (2012, July, v. 19, no. 1)


Finishing the work!

massey.gifTinker Massey

At last! For about five years, I have been working on a project for a local church part-time. Finally, last year, I retired from my full time job and began a more concentrated work schedule on revamping the church library into a usable organ of the educational aspects of the organization. Someone, years ago, worked very hard to catalog the books within a Dewey system, but when I arrived, the congregation voiced that it was not usable for them. Advising them that there is always a way to organize materials, we discussed a number of ways to re-catalog the collection so it could be used appropriately. We decided to go with a subject orientation and began by evaluating each book for its subject content, making piles for those subjects as we went. We marked the shelves and stacked the books on them. Since the shelves were overflowing, we also made an attempt to weed the collection, removing the duplicate copies first, then books in poor condition. Weeding by appropriateness to the church studies was done as I swept through the subjects for cataloging. With a new administration in place in the church, I invited them to weed the collection again. The criteria for submission to the collection had now changed. I was working to create a real resource center for the church scholars, while the administration wished the collection to just back up the many studies in the church school, so we were now becoming a less specific collection, but one that could still help the educational objectives of the church. As an aside, I had already begun a column in the monthly newsletter which reviewed several books a month for the congregation. I have continued that for over five years. In the past couple of years, many members of the congregation have come to me asking questions about the collection or the materials I review. The one thing I have noticed is that the collection is more heavily used than ever before. It takes time and patience to accomplish the goals. I have now completed the work of cataloging the collection, created a physical index for the computer challenged, and I am working on a how-to manual which should be completed this month. There are people in the church who want to work with the library, so I am leaving it in a good condition.

I have completed a number of different collections: cataloging an international slide collection, a homeopathic multimedia library, and video libraries. It is important to evaluate the collection for formats available, understand how the users want to access the collection, and be able to organize the collection according to those needs. Establish your workflow so that usage of the collection could continue while you are working on it, and plan a schedule that is comfortable enough to complete in a timely manner. I have found these jobs so satisfying. There are challenges, learning situations, and always a chance to understand your profession in a different way. Knowledge can be obtained to complete these jobs no matter what library position you hold. The “want to” is very important! Don’t forget that the person looking for your help wants to know you care about his/her needs. After all, we do perform public services.

Think about doing some private work. It can pay financially as well as emotionally.