and a winner of a 2020 Super Librarian Award.
You won’t necessarily be able to finish all of these - some are starters for projects that you can work on once you’re back. But getting all the online drudgery out of the way now means you’ll be able to focus on the fun part - the students and the books! - once you're back.
(And of course - some of us have no quiet time. Everyone’s home work space is different right now, so don’t feel guilty if you can’t get to these.)
Let’s start with the catalog. At our library it’s kind of a mess, the product of years of multiple librarians and support staff with differing processes and organizational schemes. The person who added those MARC records 15 years ago no longer works here and no one knows what that code means anymore, or why that copy category was added. At some point the way call numbers were assigned changed, and no one updated old records. You get the idea.
This is an excellent time to clean things up! Think of it as the digital alternative to finally going down to the basement to go through all those boxes (a task that is still going un-done in my house).
Even if you use a different cataloging system, this Follett Destiny webinar has many suggestions of things to look out for when looking through your system.
How’s your collection? You might think you can’t do anything about your collection now, since you can’t even get to the books, and budgets are frozen. But another catalog task that can be handled remotely is a collection analysis. This is an excellent time to review your collection for age, strength, or diversity. What’s the average age of your science books? How heavily weighted is your collection to fiction versus non-fiction?
There are many tools available from catalog software companies to help you do this; check with your vendor to see if they have one. Follett’s TitleWise catalog analysis will also allow you to upload MARC records from other catalog systems.
Similarly, this can be a good time to start looking at your collection for a diversity audit. While a complete audit will require hands-on evaluation of many of your titles, you can begin analyzing data using a spreadsheet and subject headings in the MARC records. Once you have a sheet with all your records (and it might be a BIG sheet) think about what criteria you want to look for, then come up with ways to use the MARC record information you have to take a first pass at evaluating the collection.
So for example, you might have data in the MARC records that indicate if stories feature African-American, Asian-American, or LGBTQ+ characters. Using the spreadsheet can help you get a rough count of your collection before beginning more granular research.
Diversity audits are a big task; there will be a lot more work to do. But this step can be helpful for getting a feel of where your collection is and help to prepare you for further work.
The data you take away from these analyses can let you know which parts of your collection you need to focus on, and help you plan out your weeding and purchasing programs for the coming year.
Take a look at your website. Right now, this is the main way people are accessing your library - let’s make sure it’s up to the task. I’ve talked about the importance of viewing your website as an extension of your library in previous columns, and it’s even more important now.
Start off with a cleanup - it’s never been more important to make sure everything on your site works properly and is there for a reason! In this column, I go over some strategies for weeding your website: checking links, figuring out what to keep and what to ditch, and how to save stuff for later.
Make sure your site is accessible. You may have more people - parents, guardians, colleagues, and administrators - visiting your site who have never been there before. Make sure your site is accessible to everyone! In this column, I reviewed tools to help analyze your website for accessibility. This can ensure that your tools are available for everyone right now.
What digital tasks and projects are you working on now? Share in the comments!