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One New Thing
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Some New Things:

I’ve been busy with many things of late – namely, the following:

At work I’ve been helping out with the web (catalogue) interface to the library system. Having had library experience, then systems experience, it’s good to come to a point that the two areas combine – for one thing, my memories of MARC (learnt at library school but not used much since then) came flooding back pretty quickly. My skills at navigating through a UNIX environment are improving a lot because I am doing it more often than ever was necessary before, and I have mastered the art of not messing up files when editing with vi (the UNIX file editor). Practising vi by using WinVi proved quite useful. I’m only making one constant mistake when editing files now: and that is if I’m using the “L” key to scroll right, when I want to scroll up, I tend to reach for the “I” key. If you know vi, you’ll understand why this can be a mistake. ;)

At the other end of the library scale, I came up with a loan-tracking system for the choir library, which works by having the choir members as well as the choir librarian keep a list of the music that is borrowed, and when music is returned, the choir members must get their list stamped/signed by the librarian. Time will tell how well this system works, so I’ll update on that in the new year. The catalogue will remain in its current format: a list in an Excel file. Why? Because it is easily created, easily maintained, easily backed up, easily sorted / searched, not likely to have its compatibility affected by updates to the Excel software for a few years to come; and most importantly, can be printed out and taken to the library, which doesn’t have a computer in it.

I’m quite enjoying this pre-technology approach to managing a library (well, except for the Excel file). This month it is five years since I completed my Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Studies, with so much focus on how to work in a digital environment; and here I am trying to remember how library loans and card catalogues worked before they brought computers into my primary school library!