The Library Lowdown

Welcome to today's edition of blogging between games of a Cardinals doubleheader. 

I've mentioned the seminary library and working in said library often over the past couple months. I'm on a bit of a hiatus for the moment but thought it high time to give you a mental picture of how things have changed since cataloging got underway in earnest in late January/early February and explain exactly what this "cataloging" thing that I can easily spend three or four hours on is

Several hundred boxes of books arrived in a container in mid-November, the majority of which needed to be "cataloged." Essentially, that means entering the title, author, publisher, series name (if applicable), edition (if applicable), cover image, call number, and other metadata into a searchable, web-based directory. The vast majority of it can be found in or on the book itself; call number is (as a general rule) the exception. A call number is an alphanumeric value assigned to a book based on its subject matter that dictates its place on the shelf relative to other books. There are multiple numbering schemes to choose from; public libraries most commonly use the Dewey Decimal System, and academic libraries, like ours, follow the Library of Congress (LOC). Theological books are evidently the Bs, so most of the call numbers look something like this: B_.XXX .XX. 

The easiest way to locate a book's call number is to search for its record in another library's catalog. We're adhering as closely as possible to Concordia Theological Seminary Ft. Wayne (CTSFW), so that's always my first stop. If a given title isn't in CTSFW's catalog, it sometimes points to other theological libraries that hold a copy. If that, too, is a dead end, it's possible to search the LOC itself. In the course of the project, I've also learned about MOBIUS, a shared network of Missouri academic libraries that's extremely user friendly and often has a higher success rate than the LOC. 

This is all that remains to be cataloged!

We're out of shelf space, so cataloged books are piled on the floor for the time being. We've nearly run out of floor space now in one room, so we moved the piles of non-B books to along the wall in the other room. (I have seen, with my own eyes, a photo of some shelving that CTSFW wishes to donate, but as you might imagine, international transport is costly and challenging.)

There are four main reasons not to catalog a book. From left to right: 1) no call number (whomever is deemed most qualified will have to follow the LOC instructions for assigning one before all is said and done); 2) condition (literally falling apart); 3) relevance (e.g. books on dermatology or ones that include the year 2000 in the title); and 

4) it's a duplicate copy. Just how many of each title should go on the shelf is one of many pending determinations. 

When I couldn't handle the clutter anymore, I spent part of a recent library morning organizing everything that's not a book (periodicals, tracts, A/V, maps) into what's going to be the librarian's office. More determinations...

It was fun to have some helpers while little sister was practicing walking down the aisle at the rehearsal for Jamielynn's wedding

Please continue to pray for all involved in the library project. When tensions run high, it's important to maintain a laser focus on our higher purpose of creating a functional space for students to work and study in their heart language. The resulting devotions, Bible studies, and sermons will go on to edify many not only during their years of field work in the DR but in their future tenures as pastors in the region's farthest reaches. 

Just for fun stats...
  • Day: 179 (I haven't decided when to stop counting, but definitely not until curfew is up)
  • Summer reading program final page tally: 4,359
  • September Bible lettering challenge days completed before giving up: 1
  • Hours it took three seminarians to paint my two guest bedrooms: 4.5 (pics as soon as I get some finishing touches in place!)
Until next time, blessings!