Lessons Learned: Cataloging Artists’ Files

As I’m nearing the end of a cataloging project for the National Museum of Women in the Arts, I thought I would share some lessons better learned before beginning:

  1. Learn how to delete records
  2. Keep a list (or two)
  3. Get to know the security guards

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Deleting Records

When you make a mistake cataloging it is tough to know whether you should delete the bad records or just update it. But the system you are working with may make that decision for you. Note – KOHA, the integrated library system (ILS) used at NMWA is not a forgiving animal. And…I found I didn’t have rights to delete records in KOHA.

Lesson learned – review twice before saving.


Oh the lists I wish I started at the beginning…

  • hours worked
    I only had 250 hours for the contract
  • art styles/periods, work type/media
    After the first few sessions, I smarted up and added sticky notes of frequently used subject headings
  • records cataloged, bar-coded, filed
    Helpful for the next person who takes over
  • names of all the artists
    This would definitely help in finding them again and identifying them in the slideshow above

Lesson learned – even though I didn’t start my lists with the first record cataloged, I did eventually start my lists.


Most of my hours were worked outside of normal business hours. Excellent for a part-time job that can be worked around other obligations. On the other hand, there were many nights I left while an event was being set up.

One night, I was ready to go, but the elevator was on lock down. I have no issue with the stairs – it was walking through a wedding ceremony…

Another night I found myself locked in with the security guard on patrol and not at his desk…

Lesson learned – had I befriended the security guard earlier, I may have gotten a cell number to dial when ready to leave for the night!

Case Study

Digital Library Case Study: North Carolina Digital Heritage Center (DigitalNC)

DigitalNC Webshot

The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center was created about four years ago to help smaller cultural heritage institutes get their collections online in an efficient and cost effective manner. The impetus of creating the Center was that the state polled the institutions and there was a lot of interest from a number of them to digitize their collections. Rather than have a bunch of smaller online collections that would need staffing, funding, hardware and software, the state library felt it could fulfill these responsibilities. The digital library address is hosted by the  UNC-Chapel Hill University Library, and is maintained by the UNC Library staff and the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center

“The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is a statewide digitization and digital publishing program housed in the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Digital Heritage Center works with cultural heritage institutions across North Carolina to digitize and publish historic materials online. The Digital Heritage Center provides libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, and other cultural heritage institutions with the opportunity to promote and increase access to their collections through digitization” (

The mission of the North Carolina Digital Heritage center is to support “community engagement and lifelong learning by promoting and increasing access to North Carolina’s cultural heritage.”

At this time the Center works with about 130 partners (libraries, museums, archives and other cultural heritage institutions around the state whose collections are open to the public). These partners select what they want digitized based on their own user needs. The key users that the Center works with are the partners’ library, archive and museum professionals whose users include genealogists and local teachers who are researching local history and people and creating local content for college level courses. The digital library has three full time staff, three student employees  (working 20 hours per week) and one part time employee.

The Center is in close relations with other institutions with their own large digital libraries such as East Carolina, Duke and UNC Chapel Hill (where the Center in physically housed). The Center is also a hub for the Digital Public Library of America and works within the region to share expertise and experiences with large collections.

The Center is supported by the State Library of North Carolina with funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library and Services and Technology Act, and by the UNC-Chapel Hill University Library. The Center must apply for grant funds annually. The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill provides funding for staffing salary, overhead and the technology infrastructure.

The Center does not have a collection development policy at this time and they do not determine what materials are digitized; their partners select what is important to their users. Lisa Gregory, the Digital Projects Librarian at the Center, states that the content they receive to digitize is manageable at this time. This digital library has 58,962 objects in our collections on  893,717 pages. The objects include yearbooks (about 2,000), newspapers, images, memorabilia and city directories. The number of items online is a moving target, with new collections added all the time. Ms. Gregory believes that the number of yearbooks will decline as many are already digitized. They expect to see an increase in the number of newspapers to digitize and will be transitioning to a new viewer to ease user access. Also on the list of media to be added are collections of  audio and video materials.

 The items are organized by collections and browsable also by type. Using ContentDM, metadata is included to define the image title, description,  location, subject, format and dimensions. The image collection, exhibit, contributing organization is also described. The copyright owner and their contact information is included  so users know how the materials can be used and who to contact for permission and linking the digital library collection to the physical library. When asked how the digital and physical libraries are connected, Ms. Gregory stated, “In some cases, the items have call numbers or accession numbers, or are linked to named collections at the contributing institutions. If it’s provided to us, the information is included in the records. Contributing institution and contact information are required fields.”

“The Digital Heritage Center provides digitization and digital publishing services to cultural heritage institutions in North Carolina. All digitization is done in the Digital Production Center, a unit of the UNC-Chapel Hill University Library. The Digital Heritage Center can capture high-resolution images of a wide variety of materials including photos, books, newspapers and maps”( Information about the scanning equipment used to digitize the collections is available on the website. Video and audio material digitization is not currently available, but is being planned for in the near future.

The collection is available through free access to anyone with an internet connection. Search services are provided through   a simple search, advanced search, search within search results, add or remove collections to your search. The RSS feed notifies users regarding additions to collections but at this time does not notify users by item type or subject. The Center also publishes a blog and uses Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to share collection stories.

Selection and browsing is managed through a menu of collection item types and collections as a whole. Types include city directories, yearbooks and memorabilia. Collections and exhibits include Chatham County Funeral Programs from the Chatham County Historical Association, the Cumberland County Tax Records from the Cumberland County Public Library and and North Carolina Samplers from several colleges and museums.

The Center provides a FAQ page and help documentation on their website and are also available for other reference service needs through their contact us form online. The staff contact information is also provided on the website. The Center also provides help for contributing organizations on selections materials to be digitized.

Overall my assessment of DL interface and system from end-user’s perspective is this digital library is easy to browse and search. I did find that the viewer used for yearbooks was easier to use than the one used for the city directories and newspapers. Ms. Gregory noted that these objects were digitized through ContentDM. The yearbooks were digitized using Internet Archive (the same company who provides the Way Back Machine). They provide mass digitization services and hosting through Additional information is available at:

Ms. Gregory stated that “Other than that, the “front end” or our website is WordPress”.


Works Cited

“DigitalNC Case Study: Interview with Lisa Gregory, Digital Projects Librarian.” Telephone interview. 13 Feb. 2014.

“DigitalNC: North Carolina’s Digital Heritage.” DigitalNC. North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. <;.

Library Systems

Reflections: Technology Trends

Gartner's Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015
Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015

One of the issues addressed in this weeks articles was regarding user access through mobile library sites and understanding what users want to do on a mobile platform. “Many assumed (in 2010) that mobile users would be satisfied with the basic information that could be looked up quickly on the go” (Kim, 2013). Now, mobile users want access to features and applications that are available to desktop users including reading e-books, taking notes, reading academic papers and searching for library owned books or journal articles.

I appreciate the steps Kim outlined for improving your library’s mobile site as well because this topic is one I struggle with in my day job. Some at the organization do not believe we have content that users want to access on a mobile device beyond access to meeting dates and members who have registered. Maybe this would change if we actually asked our users.

Another technology trend impacting libraries is cloud computing. There are many applications and initiatives that are relevant to libraries including OCLC’s web-scale library management services via the cloud and Ex-Libris Cloud-based next generation library system. The advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages. While it’s true, if you lose internet service, you lose access to all your cloud-based services. But on the plus side, someone else is responsible for the server and program upgrades. For many small libraries cloud-based services means you have access to IT support you didn’t have before.

Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015 continue to include cloud-computing and mobile computing. As an information professional, we will have the role of keeping up with new trends and changes and recommending or implementing solutions for improved user access and service.


  • Forbes. (2014) “Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015.”
  • Kim, B. (2013). The present and future of the library mobile experience. Library Technology Reports, 29(6), 15-28.
  • Bansode, S. Y., & Pujar, S. M. (2012). Cloud computing and libraries. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 32(6), 506-512.
Library Systems

Reflections: Web 2.0 versus Librarian 2.0

wikipedia web 2.0 tag cloud
Web 2.0 tag cloud from Wikipedia

This week’s reflections focused on web 2.0 technology and how it could be beneficial to library, archive and museum services. Web 2.0 emphasizes the user. The user is able to interact with the information instead of only receiving information from the web. Also in web 2.0, the information finds us through features such as RSS feeds and even customized ad based on previous browsing history.

One study looked at how librarians view librarian 2.0 competencies (Huvila et. al, 2013) . “The mixed expectations can also be seen in this study where professional identity, defined by librarians, seems to have a dual profile when it comes to Librarian 2.0. They are experts on one hand (IT skilled guide, expert, teacher, and Internet minded) and learners on the other hand (adaptive learner, curious, open, and interested). Librarian 2.0 is being in a learning process while being an expert. Earlier studies and literature have suggested similar shifts in the profile of librarianship” (Huvila et. al, 2013 p. 204).

Another study (Collins & Quan-Haase, 2014) looked at social media channels used by academic libraries in the province of Ontario. The found that overall social media adoption was slower in the smaller schools. The use of Flicker had waned and even though the use of YouTube seemed to be “an efficient means of reaching out to current and prospective library users, without requiring continuous updates” only 5 schools used it. The libraries primary use of FaceBook was as “an information repository and less as a means to communicate and network” with minimal digital resource information (Collins & Quan-Haase, 2014 p. 11-12). Twitter use by the libraries included responses to student questions and concerns.

Interesting to me comparing these articles on web 2.0 and librarian 2.0 is the fact that the libraries don’t seem to be embracing the web 2.0 technology (at least not at the time of the Ontario study). While these two studies were fairly recent, changes in social media seem to happen over night.  I would be interested to see how the librarians currently rate their own competencies and see if other academic libraries follow the patterns of the libraries in the Ontario Council of University Libraries.


  • Huvila, I., Holmberg, K., Kronqvist-Berg, M., Nivakoski, O., & Widen, G. (2013). What is Librarian 2.0 – New competencies or interactive relations? A library professional viewpoint. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 45(3), 198-205.
  • Collins, G. & Quan-Haase, A. (2014). Are Social Media Ubiquitous in Academic Libraries? A Longitudinal Study of Adoption and Usage Patterns. Journal of Web Librarianship, 8(1), 48-68.
Library Systems

Reflections: Accessible Library Systems

CUA Library - view page source
CUA Library – view page source

Making a library system accessible is important to consider when designing or developing that system.

Comeaux & Schmetzke (2013) provided some interesting findings regarding the lack of  accessibility of academic library web sites. Surprisingly many libraries (including Catholic University) do not have 508/accessible compliant websites.Over the last 10 years, accessibility has improved and “the average number of barriers per page has fallen dramatically” however, the number of Bobby-approved pages has stayed the same singe 2006.

Fulton’s study looked at the United States’ federal laws most referenced in web accessibility lawsuits and found that only “half of the states have adopted statutes addressing web accessibility, and fewer than half of these reference Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” (Fulton, 2011).

Making accessible library websites do not need to cost a lot or cause undue burden. If a library is still using tables for their webpage layout, it’s time for an update anyway. Using cascading style sheets (CSS) instead of tables to design your library website is one way you make a system more accessible. Using CSS to design the library website helps patrons using screen readers more easily navigate the pages and access the information they need.

Using Content Management Systems (CMS) can help guide non-tecky website administrators to develop accessible content (Comeaux & Schmetzke, 2013 p. 27). As a web editor with two sites I have inherited that were built on tables and one that uses a CMS, I can attest to the ease of editing using the CMS.


Fulton, C. (2011). Web accessibility, libraries, and the law. Information Technology and Libraries, 20(1), 34-43.

Comeaux, D. & Schmetzke, A. (2013). Accessibility of academic library web sites in North America: Current status and trends (2002-2012). Library Hi Tech, 31(1), 8-33.


My Library

Actually many of the books in my library belong to my daughter. My dad was a book lover and ran out of time before creasing some of the spines, so now it’s her turn to read about places and experience new views.

I took my dad’s mystery books and am slowly reading these. I’m looking forward to finishing school so I have more time to read what I want. I also want to catalog our collection to keep track of what we have. Mostly because I hate buying a book I already own.
If you know an easy to use/free app that you can use to add several hundred titles to a personal library catalog, let me know.





Lessons in RDA

National Museum of Women in the Arts
National Museum of Women in the Arts

For the past month, I have been working at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The focus of my work has been to catalog the museum library’s collection of exhibition catalogues. Currently I am copy cataloging from OCLC and cleaning up the record including adding subject headings that help identify the artist’s location, art style,forms, genres, media.

After my first 60 hours, I can say that I am becoming the expert in identifying crappy records and quite good in editing them to make them useful. The past three weeks, I have moved past AACR2 records. I am now comfortable in updating records to RDA and like the way I can add relators in the subfields. Hopefully this will make our records more useful.