Friday, September 27, 2013

So long, adios, au revior, aloha, sayonara

I actually got all the work done that I'd been asked to do. It seemed time was running out faster than the drawers full of records, but I managed to edge ahead and won the contest by a nose.


The last job I completed before I leave for the upper Midwest tomorrow to see my kids and grands was to make finding aids for eight file cabinet drawers' worth of records, which turned out to be 18 linear feet. A finding aid is nothing more than an inventory and it can be as detailed as listing every single thing found or as broad as listing just folder headings. I was asked to list every item from every folder and to put the folders into a different organization from what I found them in. It's a tiring process for a few reasons. One is I've had to think in a new way, sorting materials in a system that's new to me without any real training other than a couple pages of instruction. Another reason is because of decision fatigue. I had to decide which category each record belonged to and there can be a fine line between categories. (Does Night Sky go under Air or Climate?) And a third reason is some of the stuff is just dead boring. I spent two full days organizing and listing everything you never wanted to know about invasive species control. 

But it's done; it's all done. The product is eight cabinet drawers reduced to seven, organized in a hierarchy with 98%, more or less, of the records listed at the individual item level on a 40-page finding aid. 

Two large recycle bins went out with duplicates and general useless trash and I freed up two piles of file folders. Each category of record has its own color of hanging folder - when the color changes, so does the topic. I'm OCD that way.

I went back to the library to get the final photos taken. I took a van load of books to a local school district a few weeks ago, and a pickup load to a recycle center in Flagstaff. So all the discards are gone and the place looks like it's supposed to: clean, organized shelves. I discarded about 25% of the beginning shelf list and identified about 11% of the collection as Missing.




I also labeled shelves in the library, wrote directions on how to shelve books, sent about 100 records off to the Seattle librarian for cataloging, inventoried stacks and stacks of periodicals, scanned about 70 miscellaneous items that looked interesting, dug out and transplanted 119 agave plants, and recruited a volunteer to work in Collections.

During all the work, I took photos of some interesting books and other items I came across. Cover art, fonts, illustrations - they're all fodder.

Here's a great font from one of the Triassic Library scans I did (I counted 912 scans). It's just the 'Letter of Transmittal' part, but the swishes on the capitals and the inverted 'v' for the cross bar on each 'A' sets this apart.

And another one from a German publication. Again, it's just the title that's special, made so by the tiny curls on the letters 'r', 'a', and 'c'.

Ever since I worked at a medical museum in Washington, DC (no, not the Smithsonian), I've had a liking for medical illustration. It can be unexpectedly beautiful. This one gets a bit lost in translation, but it has a level of detail that catches the eye.

I found this book plate in one of the library books. From the CCC written on the bottom, it dates to the 1930s, when the Civilian Conservation Corps worked building roads, culverts, waterlines, bridges, and other structures in the park, much of the work being done by hand with little mechanical assistance. I believe I read somewhere that the CCC did 50 years' work in fewer than 10. It's a fascinating part of American history.

A little bit of library humor. I have no idea if whoever came up with the Library of Congress cataloging system did this deliberately or if it just fell into the scheme, but check out the number associated with snakes: 666. That's pretty funny for librarians.

My desk, at the end of work yesterday. It was never this clean, even when I started work. The boxes in front are videos I didn't convert to DVD for a variety of reasons, and files I didn't have time to get to, a real shame, because they were the interesting, old ones. Maybe next time.

And here's me, waving goodbye to the Painted Desert. It's more like so long, because I'm headed back here in February when I return to clean up their server.  

Thought of the day:

Just keep plugging away. (me, to my kids when they were faced with an overwhelming task, and they hated hearing it)