Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Awesome Alumni Interview: Amy

Amy attended Drexel from 1984-1987. While at Drexel, she was the co-president of the student chapter of SLA, and worked in the Cataloging Department in Hagerty Library. She also worked part-time, and eventually full-time, at Palinet (now Lyrasis) working on a retrospective conversion project. After graduating, she moved to California and took a job helping to launch (and then running) a library for the Tech Support Department of a computer retailer. Amy felt like she learned a great deal from this position, because the company was understaffed and she often had to fill in many different roles. When the company was sold, she went to work for a top-tier international executer search firm as a research associate. She did research on people, companies and industries and made initial calls to potential candidates. The office was in Silicon Valley, and was the headquarters of their technology practice, which was an exciting place to work in the late 1980s. 

In 1990, Amy moved back to the East Coast and started working a project basis for Library Technologies, Inc. She eventually found a position as a Monographes Cataloguer and Reference Librarian at Swarthmore College. After about 5 years in that position, she moved back to Library Technologies, Inc on a full-time basis.

What is your current job? Authority Control Specialist at Library Technologies, Inc. 

How did you find your job? The president was a former boss of mine and asked if I wanted to work for them.

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? Most of my work is project-based. I review files of name and subject headings from client's bibliographic records, correcting error and linking headings to LC or LTI authority records. When I'm not working on client files, I'm doing clear-up work within our own databases, working on our website, or keeping up on the latest n cataloging, such as RDA. I also monitor several relevant listservs. This past summer, I redesigned their website using Drupal

I had worked for them on a contract basis before, so the work is as I expected. Over the years, we have added some different responsibilities which have increased my knowledge base. 

What do you enjoy most about your job? Linking incorrect headings to the authorized headings. It feels like detective work- decoding bad diacritics, figuring our missing letters, figuring our what the name should be when the person inputting the heading had their hand in the wrong place on the keyboard.

I also enjoyed learning Drupal and working on the website redesign. It was great to add a new set of skills. 

What are some common misconceptions about your job/area of librarianship? That authority control is not an important part of maintaining a catalog. If names, subjects, etc. are not in there correctly, patrons are not going to be able to find what they need. When a library spends a huge amount of money on an automated system, but doesn't maintain the integrity of the database, it's a huge waste of money. 

What was the most important thing you did or learned while in library school? Probably my assistantship in the Cataloging Department of Hagerty Library. It gave me hands-on experience with cataloging. I had a great cataloging instructor in Jerry Saye, and a very good cataloger in the library who mentored me there. Between then, I learned an incredible amount. 

What inspired you to choose this career? I had my first library "job" in 2nd grade. I used to help in the library at my elementary school. In high school, I worked at the public library. As I was finishing college and starting to look for jobs, I discovered that most of the ones that seemed interesting were in libraries. I decided to go back and earn my degree at Drexel starting that fall. 

What do you wish you had learned more about? Maybe the systems side of things. 

Any tips for current students? Take a cataloging course, even if you don't want to be a cataloger. It's important to understand what's behind it all. 

Get some hands-on experience in whichever area of librarianship you choose. 

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