Posts Tagged ‘cataloguing’

I feel like I need to warn readers again that this series of professional development posts are for my own personal benefit, to motivate me to reflect specifically on what I have learnt in the first 6 months of my first professional role. They are certainly not entertaining, but may provide an insight in to the role of a new professional in a corporate law firm. This particular post will reflect on what I have learned in the first 6 months of my first professional role.

What have I learned on the Enquiry Desk?

The most useful skills knowledge I have learnt is how to use a number of legal databases; such as Westlaw, Lexis Library, PLC and Lawtel. I have also learnt that it is not so important to already have all of the answers, as to know where to look for them and effective ways of searching for information.

Enquiry DeskI have also become familiar with which documents are needed for anti-money laundering purposes as well as how to locate them for companies inside and outside of the UK. There are a number of tasks which I never imagined I would ever be asked to do, from ordering death certificates to finding the contact details for a Baroness. There are of course a number of things I expected to do that I have now learnt how to do, such as how to conduct a press search and effectively search for cases or legislation. However, despite now having 6 months experience and spend half my working week on the Enquiry Desk, this is also the area I feel I have the most still to learn from, and have been told it will be a matter of years before I become fully confident on the Enquiry Desk.

What have I learnt about journals?

I have developed and added to my knowledge on journal publishing and administration with my current role. I now know the ins and outs of processing invoices, asking partners for authorisation of renewals and cancellations (and how frustrating it can be when they refuse to get back to you), checking licenses and copyright permissions with publishers, and dealing with publishers and agents among many other things.


What have I learnt about book cataloguing?

I have put all I had learnt on my MA regarding cataloguing into practice when cataloguing books. I should clarify that I only catalogue books where we have previous editions, and therefore do not catalogue new books from scratch. Even so, I understand the necessity for precision and attention to detail when cataloguing any changes the new editions have and I really enjoy this aspect of my role.

What have I learnt about know how?

Know how was a term that was never ever explained to me – I suppose it was assumed that I would know what it is. So from profiling know how and precedents for our intranet, I can now tell you that know how can consist of a variation of documents – from client bibles, to journal articles, to Government guidance, to training documents, to template documents covering all sorts of subjects. It is basically any information that may at some point prove useful to another in your organisation, who may be aiding a client on the same topic and may need some expertise on the subject, or may need to create a similar type of document, etc.

Know how

From profiling know how and precedents,I have actually learnt a reasonable amount about what the Banking & Finance and Corporate as departments actually do, which you will probably not be surprised to hear was very mysterious to me 6 months ago!


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Way back in the beginning of May I attended the CILIP New Professionals Day 2012, which involved talks, workshops, and networking with other new professionals during the very many tea breaks!

It was a little while ago so I may not be as thorough with my summary of the day as I would like, however I hope the following blog posts may be useful to those who could not attend. The presentations given, including for the session below, can be found here: http://www.cilip.org.uk/npid2012/pages/presentations.aspx

Game on: Cataloguing and Classification in the 21st century

This workshop was hosted by Deborah Lee and Jennie-Claire Perry. As a student of UCL, which is infamous for its Cat & Class modules, I was curious to see what the workshop offered and whether cataloguing would be viewed as dying out (which sadly seems to be the typical view), or as a role that still needs to be filled by librarians.

We were asked to organise the lego bricks in as many different ways as possible, such as by colour, shape, function as well as rarity, and this of course was to demonstrate Ranganathan’s faceted classification.
We were then given the new grey bricks, and asked how would we deal with this group when it didn’t fit into our current classification system, which of course can be a very tricky problem for real world cataloguers. Solutions suggested were:

  • Create a new group or separate category – but someone pointed out that this could lead to very long complicated classmarks in some classification systems, such as Dewey
  • Attach to a subcategory, in this case attach to the black or white groups
  •  If the item doesn’t fit in to the class system, then maybe it is not in the collection development plan and remit of the library service

Distributes relatives was also taught by drawing our attention to the scattering of other classifiable qualities, such as the bricks with 4 x 2 dots, or functional qualities such as decorative or building bricks, which of course were distributed relatives scattered throughout the various colours.

The ‘game on’ in the title became apparent with a few lego building games (see victory spoils in photo above), and a cataloguing-themed game of human Snakes and Ladders to finish off with.

This session was aimed at those new to classification and cataloguing, and with UCL being the only library school in the country to offer Cat & Class as a core module, the majority of new professional attendees probably were novices. What was great for me was to see this session so well-attended; demonstrating that classification and cataloguing is still deemed to be very important skills to learn by new professionals.

See Annie Johnson’s storify account of this talk here: http://intothehobbithole.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/cilipnpd12-high-visibility-cataloguers.html


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Belatedly, I have realised it would be useful to do a blog entry on my work placement at Senate House Library, which was a good few weeks ago! However, in my defence I had not yet begun this blog until after the placement had finished, and in fact it was my work placement which inspired me to create a blog in the first place. Just a warning that this will probably be in quite a few installments!

UCL organises 2 week work placements for all full time students on the MA Library and Information Studies course. During my placement I lucky enough to be based in the Special Collections department of Senate House Library, and I was given an ongoing project of cataloguing pre-1800 printed Le glorie de gli incognitibooks within the Library’s Fixed Location sequence. This involved going to the basement to collect the books, and bringing them up to the Sterling Library Reading Room where I created my base. I then searched for the title of the book in the Millenium catalogue to see whether there was already a record for the item at Senate House Library, but 90% of the time this was not the case. This task was made difficult as many of the books were in Latin, French and German as well as English, and the font was often a Gothic script that was extremely difficult to read. If the item did not have a catalogue record at Senate House, I searched the catalogues of other institutions, such as the British Library and Cambridge and Oxford Universities. If they had a record of the same item I was trying to Pre-1900 German book containing etchings of the Old Testamentcatalogue, I chose the most detailed and accurate one and imported it into Senate House’s Library catalogue. Some of the books also had a Senate House classmark pencilled inside, and I would add this onto the imported catalogue record. All other changes and personal additions that would need to be added to the record that pertained to the unique copy held by Senate House would be added by the Rare Books Librarian and the Special Collections cataloguer at a later date.   

The Rare Books Librarian, Jonathan Harrison, encouraged me to take my time to browse and enjoy the books, and kindly asked me to select a few favourites and to write a blog entry about them, Rare Books Revealed and Rare Books Revealed 2. It was this experience that first sparked the idea that I should begin my own blog to help develop my own ideas and to track my progress in librarianship. I was also given advice by a subject librarian at Senate House to create an online presence in order to publicise myself and to get more involved with others in the library network.

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