Just realised I haven’t written up last weeks experiences at the RNCM library, and as I’m about to start my first full week placement I better not get too far behind!
This week gave me an insight into one of the issues of running a small library with a small staff and little room for cover. One of the library assistants Mimi is ill and although all the other staff were extremely sypathetic to the situation, it did cause a lot of extra work to make sure the desk was always manned. In the public library where I work I am one of the bank of casual staff who can be called on to cover sick staff or during holiday times. This is a luxury they don’t have at the RNCM.
I was supposed to be shadowing Mimi today to see the reservations process, but obviously this didn’t happen, so I spent the first part of the morning finishing off my first mini cataloguing project of attaching the individual journal chapters to the parent book record.
Next I spent some time with Alan seeing how he processes journals when they arrive and how he keeps track of missing copies so that the library resources remain complete and up to date.
In the afternoon I spent some time with Anna, the Chief Librarian who explained her role and the various academic committees she and other members of staff sit on. Anna has the main academic liaison role, ensuring that books and articles required by courses are available in the library and arranging digitisation of key chapters with correct licenses and records. Anna is also responsible for buying journals and she explained how they keep records of use and relevance to teaching. She also spoke about getting access to on-line resources and some of the pitfalls and problems they have had with students sharing password access to resources with students from other institutions. Equally when students were asked to register with Athens to activate their account how many problems this had caused when students had not registered in the required time period. It is hard to strike a balance between ensuring expensive resources are not abused and making sure access is easily available to all students when they need it.
Anna then introduced my new project which is to catalogue a large collection of early printed music which is currently stored in the archives area. It is not archive material as it is not original, but it is not being accessed as it has not been catalogued and therefore no-one properly knows what is there and how to find it. This is where the cataloguing theory from the course all starts to make sense as I can see that if I do the cataloguing correctly I will be making a new resource available to students and possibly scholars around the country. Luckily most of the material has a catalogue record with the British Library so I have to import the record and then tidy it up to fit the RNCMs catalogue. Most of the music was printed in the early to mid 19th century so it is a fascinating link to the past. One piece even had a plate in the front saying ‘Property of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’ although there was nothing else to suggest if this was really the case.
It was quite time consuming work trying to track down the correct records at the British Library, especially as my brain is still a bit fuggy following a migraine the previous day. Hopefully I’ll be in better form tomorrow.