From the catalogs of babes

{July 13, 2010}   delayed ALA recap

Yeah, yeah, I know. ALA was over weeks ago and probably most people have forgotten about it and moved on by now. I wasn’t even going to mention it, since I don’t really have all that much to say–I spent most of my time being a DC tourist and seeing the city and the museums and the monuments. Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I’m prepared to come back to DC again for the next conference (since it does seem to be a hot location for such things).

I had a really hard time just getting into the ALA conference mindset this year. I would see sessions listed in the program schedule and think “oh, I should totally go to that, it would be really applicable to my job…oh wait.” Because I don’t have that job anymore. So I ended up skipping a lot of sessions I’d normally attend. I tried to go to things that might be relevant to my upcoming studies, but most of those ended up bust–the session I went to about publishing for the profession was really too basic for me (great as an intro, though) and one pane lthat I tried to attend, a panel of graduate student research presenations, not a single presenter showed up. Not the best ALA for me. Oh well.

I did manage to squeeze my way into the back of the room for the Year of Cataloging Research presentation, and I also got to speak to a whopping 8 or so people about using local note fields to recommend library resources. I also got to meet a couple of you blog readers and commenters in the flesh, which is always a treat, so there’s that!

All in all, I always like the in-person aspects of the conference, but this year’s ALA conference left me a little disappointed. Whether it was my perspective or the conference itself, or some combination of both, I don’t know. Not sure about next year, although I have never been to New Orleans…

{June 22, 2010}   the swing of things

Hi all. I’ve been away.

Despite not starting the Ph.D. program until September, I decided to leave my position at my former library at the end of May, and spend my summer vacation break sabbatical finishing some lingering projects as well as doing some traveling. I feel like it’s not often in our lives when we might get such an opportunity to take a few months off with the security that there’s something waiting for us at the end of it.

Despite my intentions otherwise, I’ve so far kind of turned my brain off to cataloging and libraries…I haven’t been reading many articles or following the blogs I usually do or any of that. While it’s nice to have a vacation of sorts, I know I need to get back in the swing of things shortly, or it’ll just be detrimental in the long run.

I wasn’t going to go to ALA, but my sweetie is going for work and I weaseled my way into a last-minute speaking gig there on Sunday. I’ll be part of a panel for the RUSA Catalog Use Committee’s “Lightning Rounds” session on Sunday, June 27, from 4-5:30 p.m. (EMB-Capital A). The theme is “Innovations in Catalog Use” and each presenter will have about 5 minutes to share a tip or innovation that worked (or didn’t!) for their library and catalog. Personally, I’m excited about the format–I think the short presentations combined with the practical tips will make this a really accessible and helpful session, and I hope if you’re at ALA you’ll come by to see it.

Also while I’m shamelessly self-promoting, if you’re going to be at ALA, make sure to check out the quilts up for silent auction at the entrance to the exhibits. I helped work on these, and all proceeds go to fund scholarships.

ALA Wonky Log Cabin front

You know you want to bid on some awesome quilts made by librarians.

Washington DC wasn’t exactly the travel I had in mind when I set out to take a summer vacation (I was thinking more like a month or two in Australia…), but I trust that things work themselves out this way for a reason. I confess it feels a little weird to be attending a conference without a specific library or position to tie it back to–I find myself interested in attending very different sessions than when I was working at the fashion library. I also find myself not quite such a slave driver to make every single remotely relevant session from 7 a.m. until 7 at night…I’m much more motivated to be a tourist this time around. I’ve never been to DC and I’m looking forward to seeing the Nation’s Capitol and the Smithsonian and all that good stuff.

So if you’re in DC for ALA, I hope you’ll say “hi!” and help me get back in the swing of things.

{January 13, 2010}   missing midwinter

As I’m starting to see posts and tweets from Midwinter, I confess I’m a little sad to not be attending this time around. It sounds like there are some cool sessions, plus I’ve never been to Boston. Not to worry, though: Boston is still a viable goal for 2010… 

For those of you, like me, tuning in from home, I’m happy to share that I’ll be participating in a virtual midwinter presentation, sponsored by the arts section of ACRL

ACRL Arts Section’s *Virtual* Discussion Forum
ALA MidWinter 2010

Join ACRL Arts Section’s first *virtual* discussion forum!
Saturday, Jan. 16th @ 11am (EST) via Conference Call (and ALA Connect)

It will be an exciting first, and you won’t want to miss it!

Rachel Clarke is a Cataloger at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Library. Her presentation entitled “Avant-Garde Cataloging: Pushing the Boundaries of Traditional Standards to Better Serve Arts Library Users” will talk about cataloging for arts and design school libraries.

Marie Botkin, an MLIS Graduate student, will discuss Medieval Manuscript Illuminations and their significance to fashion changes.

There will be a Q&A session after the presenters.

How to join the discussion:
1. Dial into the conference call: 218.844.0850. When prompted, enter the access code: 713404*.
2. During (or before) the conference call, log into ALA connect (, find the ACRL Arts Section community, click on the Discussion tab, then click on ACRL Arts Section Virtual Discussion Forum. Download the documents, and now you’re ready to follow along with the presenter!

Have technical questions or questions about the discussion forum? Please email Yen Tran at Hope you’ll join us for this exciting discussion! 


Yes, I am doing a virtual presentation on cataloging and classification for arts libraries. I do hope you’ll join in! Personally, I’ve found ALA Connect somewhat awkward in terms of navigation and login, so you might want to go in ahead of time and poke around to make sure you’re hunky-dory with your username/login and navigation. But just in case,  here’s a link to the exact page within ALA Connect. There’s no need to be an ALA member to use ALA Connect or attend the presentation, so come on!

{July 15, 2009}   report from ALA

I’m here to report that librarians still like cardigans. Which is good because despite the fantastic Chicago weather, the meeting rooms were, as always, over-air-conditioned.

I’m also here to report that librarians also apparently like shirtdresses, especially ones from Target, as I saw no less than 3 conference attendees wearing this (I know we’re in a recession with budget cutbacks and all, but it’s still a little tacky to show up in the same dress…):



Oh, wait, you wanted a report about cataloging? My bad. It’s probably saying something that I seemed to be paying more attention to style than sessions. Some good stuff here and there, but many of the sessions seemed redundant to me, and mostly I felt like I was hearing things I’d already heard multiple times before and had already written about right here in this very blog. I guess that’s good in some ways–the ideas are picking up momentum and spreading–but personally I’m more interested in seeing what’s on the horizon than the water we’re in now, much less what’s already rushed under the bridge.

{July 12, 2009}   Dear ALA,

I know schedule conflicts are unavoidable, and I know you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but really, what were you thinking scheduling two of the most important cataloging-related sessions of the entire conference in the same time slot??


1:30 PM – 5:30 PM on 07/12   
The Future is Now: Global Authority Control

Location: McCormick Place West in W-179
Unit: LITA/ALCTS – Subunit: n/a

1:30 PM – 5:30 PM on 07/12   
Catalog Use and Usability Studies: What Do They Show and How Should This Evidence Affect Our Decision-Making?

Location: McCormick Place West in W-196c

Unit: ALCTS/RUSA – Subunit: n/a

{July 9, 2009}   on my way

I’m on my way to Chicago for the ALA Annual Conference. I’m very excited for some of the sessions, and I’m very, very excited because I’ve never been to Chicago before!

I hope to run into some fellow blog readers and writers there. If you see me, feel free to say hi. I’ll be the one attempting to be fashionable in the humidity of Chicago in July (and failing miserably).

So I am finally returned from the land of the Midwinter, where it was in fact pretty mid-winter-y when I left it.

I started early on the conference circuit, with my parents would taking me to CUE or COMDEX as a child. From a early age I was familiar with the Session Break Stampede and the Exhibit Hall Swag Bingo. I’ve been to CLA, SAA, SLA, ALA, pretty much any of the “-LA”s you can name. But this was my first Midwinter.

And I loved it.

I did feel out-of-place at first at many of the sessions: between not holding any real authority at my place of work, coming from a for-profit education institution, a trade school for fashion, no less (not an art school, not really an academic library but not really a special library either), using software that’s essentially outdated and isn’t interoperable with anything most libraries are doing/using–I often don’t feel like I have much to contribute or much to gain. I constantly have the feeling of the little girl playing dress-up in mom’s clothing–shuffling along in shoes six sizes too big, drowning in a floppy hat and boa with lipstick smeared across my face. At any time, some worldly adult could turn around and catch me red-handed, making a mess of all their stuff. I mean, who am I to be on a task force on competencies and education for a career in cataloging, or participating in a Heads of Cataloging discussion group?

But I am, and I did, and no one shunned me or laughed at me or asked me to leave. Just going by the schedule guide, I somehow kept ending up walking into sessions that I probably shouldn’t.  ALA, if you’re listening: the serious lack of session descriptions drives me nuts–I’m not even sure what all the group names mean to begin with, and even if I know I want to be there for that particular group, during that particular session they are having a speaker or disucssion on a topic that may or may not interest me, and when there are 5 things I’ve marked as potentially interesting all in the same time slot and I have to decide which to attend, a 1 or 2 sentence blurb about what exactly is being discussed at the session might be helpful, and I’m kinda surprised that a group of librarians can’t be bothered to do so. Although I suppose that if I don’t know enough to to dechipher the mysterious acronyms describing a session, it’s probably not targeted at me… I thankfully figured out some of the acronyms about halfway through, like government documents and African-American materials, so I didn’t end up at either of those cataloging sessions, whew (no offense to either of those groups, just not my cuppa).

But I have to say, no one seemed to care that I joined their groups. One of the sessions I somehow ended up in was a RUSA Catalog Use meeting: “Cool,” I thought, “A discussion group on how reference librarians use the catalog.” But it was a committee rather than a discussion group (who can keep track of the difference between “committee,” “task force,” “interest group,” “discussion group,” etc.?), and they were planning their program presentation for the Annual conference. While it wasn’t what I’d expected, it was pretty neat to see a group of people walk through all the tasks and details necessary to plan a conference session, from start to finish. And it turns out I even got to help–they needed to someone who subscribes to Autocat to post their session announcement, and none of the committee members were on that list. I ended up in some other great sessions: the FRBR interest group, How Libraries are Using Web 2.0 Tools, the RDA update forum, the Open Shelves Classification… It was a tough decision to decide between a session on shared and open community data vs. one on librarianship in for-profit institutions, but I went with the latter, because I see the topic mentioned so rarely. I was not disappointed. Finally, meeting people who understand you and your library and why you just can’t do things the same way other libraries do! Unlike Annual, where I mark a session (or two, or three, or…) for each time slot and then end up only attending about half of them, I ended up attending every session I had marked except one (the exception being the OCLC update breakfast, which I now halfway suspect they hold purposely at 7 a.m. just to deter people from coming and commenting on their proposals…).

I liked this conference so much better than Annual. I knew beforehand, with its committees and its task forces, Midwinter is more of a “business-y” meeting, but I have to say, that’s one of the things I actually ended up liking about it–so much more opportunity to sit around the table and interact and discuss, rather than being spoken/PowerPointed at from the front of the room. Plus, I liked the people who were there–I kept telling people that it felt more personal, and they would reply, “that’s because it’s half the size of Annual.” But I’ve been to a lot of smaller conferences and didn’t feel as personal. I think it’s less about the numeric amount of people and more because the people who are there are THE people, the ones who are the ones who are passionate about their profession, involved, and on the committees and making the decisions and shaping the future. And those are the type of people I want to meet, want to be around, want to be.

{January 23, 2009}   fangirl alert

Guess who sat next to Lois Mai Chan today in the meeting for the subject analysis committee subcommittee on FAST???

I even shared my handouts with her. <swoon>

{January 20, 2009}   hello from Denver

I’m in Denver a few days early to visit friends before ALA Midwinter begins. If anyone else is in town early and wants to meet up, drop me a note. I know a really great martini bar…

et cetera