if you’re looking for me, you’ll find me right here

my favorite sign in the library

Not long after I started working at the University of Richmond, a coworker told me that most people stay at the University for five years or forever. At the time, five years seemed like a really long time to be anywhere, and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever stay in one place for the rest of my career.

I’d had two professional, post-graduate jobs at that point, neither of which lasted more than three years, for various reasons. I took this one because I liked what I saw when I interviewed, and because it was in the part of the country where I wanted to live. And, as much as I enjoyed the work environment and collegiality (particularly compared to the previous job), I was not going to commit to anything more than my three years.

The first year is the honeymoon. The second is when things get real. The third is when I decide if I want to keep going or try something new.

The path to what has now been five and a half years was… interesting, to say the least. And not without a good helping of uncertainty. Just as I would be getting comfortable with the organizational structure and my job expectations, someone would come by and upset the book truck, so to speak.

I’ve just completed a long period of uncertainty, and while things are not yet entirely settled, it’s finally dawned on me that I have the power to determine, or at least guide, the outcome of this uncertainty, which I’ve never been in (or realized I was in) the position to do before. It also helps that there are some clear dates for when change will have to happen. I always function better with a schedule.

As I enter into the second half of my sixth year here, I don’t want to go anywhere else, and that’s a good feeling to have. Sure, there are still unknowns that could change things. Something could happen to my boss and his replacement could be horrible. My coworkers could leave and be replaced with difficult people. I might fall in love with someone on the other side of the world and decide to move there. It’s all possible, albeit unlikely.

It’s not the best job in the world, or the most perfect library, and I certainly could do with less humidity in the summer, but it’s better (for me) than any place I’ve ever been, and better than most of the horror stories I hear from colleagues elsewhere. Sometimes, when you know how bad bad can be, good enough is good enough. Sometimes good enough is all you need to make it awesome.

print holdings & javascript

Topeka Public Library Periodicals area, ca. 1953

What does print holdings mean to you? If you said “the books/journals in paper on a shelf in the library,” then you’re probably a librarian. Our students don’t know what it means — most of them think it has something to do with printing something from a computer. And yet, that’s what we have had our print holdings labeled as in our “journal locator” (aka A-Z list and link resolver) for years. Until two weeks ago, when I changed it.

It never occurred to me that “print holdings” would be confusing to someone, since it’s pretty clear to me what it means. But I don’t think like an undergraduate student anymore, much less an undergraduate student in 2011. It wasn’t until I had spent so much time looking at our print journal holdings that it dawned on me that this language may not be very clear to our modern students.

My main project this summer involved taking information from an inventory of our print journal collection and adding the coverage dates to the entries in our A-Z/linking list. In addition, I added notes about the location (we have journals in four main locations, with a few in the book stacks and the archives) and any anomalies. Now when someone looks up a title, it will say “University of Richmond Libraries” followed by the location (i.e. “Boatwright Periodicals – Second Floor”).

I’d love to change the name “periodicals” to something else, but I’m not sure what. Also, it’s the location name in our catalog, and I’m trying to be consistent. At least it’s not “print holdings” anymore.

The next phase in my efforts to make our A-Z/linking list more useful to the novice was to add icons for peer-reviewed titles (example). I’m using the code that Karen Coombs developed a couple of years ago. Took me until now to realize that it’s not that complicated to implement, particularly once I realized that we’re using JQuery on our website already, so getting it set up and maintained is not my responsibility.

Next, I’m hoping to add links to RSS feeds where available, but I can only find references to the code for that. I’ll keep digging, but it’s dropping lower on the priority list.