Tag Archives: cataloging

5 Reasons Why I’m Straight Ballin’ At Work

Or, 5 Reasons Why These Apps and Online Tools Will Make You Rich and Successful and Cause Your Wildest Dreams To Come True (Not An Exaggeration)

1. I use OmniFocus.

Now that my work involves pursuing tenure through professional development and scholarly contributions (that’s just the kind of boring sentence a tenure-track person WOULD write), OmniFocus is, like, my crack. I discussed its ridiculous features in this post in some detail, so I won’t expostulate about it too much here. Suffice it to say that OmniFocus is capable of breaking down large goals or projects into small, achievable tasks with plenty of reminder and due date options. I use it to catch all my half-formed ideas when I’m on the run, flesh out projects and objectives, and keep track of my progress. Oh, and lest I forget, it also gives me the opportunity to enjoy a smug sense of superiority whenever I check something off the list. And who doesn’t want that?

I can be obnoxiously smug sometimes. It’s a shortcoming.

2. I keep my meeting notes in an online blog.

So most jobs involve, like, a million trillion meetings. Honestly, what is that about? You really can’t just send me an email? Anyway, all these meetings require note-taking, which means you need a good way to record, organize, access, and preserve your notes (and that’s just the kind of boring sentence a librarian would write). But seriously, y’all, it’s 2012. Time to step away from the notepad and file drawer (or pile of random paper on your desk, if that’s your system). Instead, do this:

  • Establish a free WordPress blog
  • Adjust the settings to make it completely private
  • Enable the ability to submit posts by email
  • Create categories for different types of meetings (staff meetings, committees, clients, what have you)
  • Establish a standard method for titling each post (“Weekly Staff Mtg 9/27/12” or “HR Webinar 10/4/12”, etc.) and use those titles every time
  • Download a note-taking app with rich text editing and email capabilities, like Notemaster
  • Use your phone or tablet to take notes in your meetings (and be sure to tell people you aren’t texting or you’ll get some really dirty looks)
  • Code your notes with appropriate categories and tags—most important step of all!
  • Email each new set of notes to your blog

And voila! Now you have a database of all your notes featuring built-in organization, instant access from any device or machine, and robust searching capability. Do you see the beauty of this system? If you’re trying to remember what your boss in that meeting six months ago about TPS reports, you don’t have to thumb through a stack of paper in a drawer somewhere. Just go to your blog and search your tags, or pull up the “Boss meetings” category and scroll by date. Immediate retrieval FTW!

3. I browse with Firefox.

Look, I know Chrome is a good browser (I actually use it at home), but for work purposes Chrome can’t quite compare to the level of customization that Firefox offers; plus it seems to work better with sites I visit often in the course of my cataloging tasks. And we’re not even going to discuss that other browser. What’s that you say? You like it? Excuse me while I scornfully harrumph. HARRUMPH SNARK HARRUMPH. Anyway, install Firefox. Done? Good. Now install some add-ons. My goal for my work browser is to give myself as much screen space as possible for actual content instead of wasting it on menu and tool bars, and I also like to speed up navigation as quickly as possible (I’m often jumping between six or eight different sites while cataloging), so here are my favorite add-ons:

  • Bookmarks menu —> places your bookmarks folders on the nav bar for quick access
  • Speed Dial —> make your home page and new tabs a panel of favorite sites
  • OmniBar —> combine search engine and nav bars
  • Translate This —> no more copying and pasting, just translate right on the page
  • All-in-One Gestures —> use efficient mouse movements to quickly navigate  through and between pages

With all these tools in place, I blaze through the web like a freaking comet. WHOOSH. That was me, just blazing by. I was probably saying “Suckaaaaas!”

Here’s how Firefox looks with all my customizations (click to enlarge!).

4. I store articles and manage citations with Zotero.

Being a cataloger at an academic library means reading a LOT of scholarly articles, plus a bunch of other documentation on cataloging standards and practices. At first, I was printing articles off as I found them and sticking them in a “to-read” file, but again, I find this paper-based system inadequate. Some of those articles are about the tenets of cataloging sound recordings, but others are about changing standards in encoding bibliographic data. My file doesn’t allow me to easily sort by subject or date or anything helpful like that—instead I just have to thumb through a pile of paper and probably get a paper cut and turn into the Autumn Monster. To prevent these distressingly Hulkesque incidents, I’ve started using Zotero, a free program that will automatically save articles, web pages, and other content to folders which you can label by category, author, format, whatever. But that’s not all—Zotero also generates citation info in dozens of different authorized formats (APA, MLA, etc.) so that if and when you decide to write a brilliant and exciting paper about the use of geographic area codes in the public catalog, your bibliography is already formatted and ready to go. And the very awesomest part is, there is a Zotero add-on for Firefox. It is so easy to grab an article while browsing, stick it in a folder, and tag it “to-read.” In fact, sometimes I feel compelled to say BOOYAH to the computer when I do it. Sorry, coworkers.

5. I stay speedy and secure with LastPass.

If you’re like me, you have approximately five thousand logins to various essential sites online. Also if you’re like me, you’re dumb and use the same password all the time. Well, stop that. ::reaches through internet and flicks your forehead:: It’s dangerous, as I found out when someone hacked my Gmail. I had to fly around in a panic changing Amazon, iTunes, Facebook, bank accounts, bills, and other sensitive stuff. And then I couldn’t remember any of those new passwords. DAMEET. So…enter LastPass. I found out about it from a rave review on a tech blog and I haven’t looked back since. It’s a free service that stores all your login information in a secure vault to which you set one master password and which you can access from any computer. You only have to remember that one single password to open your vault, and LastPass does the rest. The LastPass Firefox add-on will automatically retrieve and enter your login information into all your sites, depending on your settings and stipulations. So when I click my SpeedDial button for ClassWeb, the next second I’m in, no waiting or typing. And LastPass will even generate crazy good passwords for new sites if you want. But for the LOVE OF GOD don’t forget your master password. LastPass can’t give it to you or reset it–they don’t store it anywhere, which makes your account nice and secure but also a huge pain in the neck if you forget. Then you might turn into the You Monster. And nobody wants to see that mess.

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4 Reasons Why I Voluntarily Stay Late at Work

Or, 4 Reasons Why It’s Abundantly Clear I Chose the Right Career Path

1. Nerd thrills.

I’ve been slightly obsessed with linguistics and languages since birth. In particular, etymologies and word relationships between different languages make me giddy with nerd joy. Being a cataloger means looking at lots of different languages, like last week when I was editing a record for an online version of an Icelandic translation of Chrétien de Troyes’ 12th-century Arthurian romances. Just for funsies I went to view the actual text, and there I saw the word konung and thought “huh, that looks familiar” and then IT HIT ME—it’s the equivalent of the Old English word cyning which, as we all know, appears in Beowulf’s prologue and means king. Omg! Konung = cyning = king! Icelandic –> Old English! I mean, I’m squealing like a dolphin on crack right now! Anyone else?

2. Trivia.

You never know what will come across your desk if you’re a cataloger. This week I started a project involving a stack of French-language booklets about Canadian history, which led to me learning about this fascinating but probably insane mustachioed dude who basically founded Manitoba and thought he was a prophet sent by God and was eventually hanged for treason after a dramatic trial. I mean, whoa. Who knew that Canada was up to such shenanigans in the 1800s?

Hey, Louis Riel: That stache is trash.

3. Music adventures.

I’ve learned that I can’t listen to any of my favorite albums while I’m cataloging because I automatically start singing along, and then I get distracted and even insert words I’m singing into records I’m typing. I gave my classical playlist a whirl, but it’s not quite peppy enough. Turns out that if you’re staring at data on a screen all day, some funky beats are required. So then I listened to Buena Vista Social Club about a thousand times, after which I decided  that while non-English jazzy type stuff was definitely the way to go, I needed something new. That’s how I discovered Edith Piaf. My. Life. Is. Changed. Forever. Is she peppy? Oui! Is she outrageously awesome? Oui! Is she keeping me awake? Mais oui!

4. Delusions of grandeur.

We all have our little pet peeves. Well, y’all do. Meanwhile, I have huge, giant, looming-on-the-horizon-of-my-soul peeves, mostly having to do with things being arranged incorrectly. I grind my teeth over misplaced apostrophes, crooked pictures, cluttered shelves, poorly organized websites, and such like. I’ve spent my whole life gazing powerlessly at glaring errors in this world, clenching my fists and thinking wrothful thoughts, since generally social decorum prevents me from taking action. But now when I see something wrong in a previously created record, you know what I do? I just fix the damn mistake. Oh frabjous day! What soothing balm to my curmudgeonly heart. You know that Icelandic thing I mentioned? Well, originally it was labeled as Danish. A bunch of other libraries still have it marked as Danish. But in my library, by gum, it’s correct, because I thought it didn’t look Danish and then I ran it through Google Translate and then I said to myself  “Great Scott, it’s Icelandic!” and then I fixed it. And that pretty much makes me an information goddess of limitless omnipotence.

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