Sunday, June 12, 2011

Notes form the frontline - the hospital waiting room

I got sick as a teenager and had to spend a lot of time in the hospital. For about a year or so I lived my life to its timetable. That meant a lot of hurry up and wait. Hurry to get to the hospital for the appointment, about an hour away in traffic, than wait for x doctor or y procedure. I'm beginning to find that compiling this bibliography is the same way.

In the beginning was the diagnosis. I check with a few people and found out that there was a problem. Well not really, more like a need. Then I marshaled all my strength for the initial assault. I've created a database with about 80 unique records of books. All the fields I can fill out are, and I have the ability to quickly index them. Now, though, I find my self at the mercy of ILL. See books are fairly easy to find. They exist in libraries, and libraries have them cataloged fairly well, not only can you see they exist but the records also give you a hint into what's inside. Magazine's aren't cataloged that way, so while I can access some of them, and poke around a bit, I can't see what's translated and what's not. As a result I have to request records piecemeal and work off what I have in my other databases to find what I may need but may not. Hence the hurry up and wait. I'm basically working one ILL request to the next right now.

Not that I mind, much like advances in medicine, we've made significant progress in computers and databases. What doesn't exist now is largely a hole in the compilation of knowledge through poor metadata standards at a publisher level, and practices that should probably be updated in the world of cataloging. That said the act of Assembling the database has been a relatively easy process. A lot easier than fighting what I was sick with, or trying to do the same project 10 years ago.

Another lesson from this experience is just like doctors are still important in medicine, librarians are still important in research. I am engaged in the process out of part of my professionalization into that profession, and what I am writing will I hope mainly aide them in doing their job better. Still as a relative novice in the field, the reference librarians here at the University of South Carolina, as well as a few other places (including UC Riverside), have been extremely helpful. I wouldn't be at this point without them, because this stuff isn't googleable... Well some of it is now that I posted it on my blog.

With being sick I had to accept the timing of life. Now, I find the hurry up and wait process extremely frustrating, but I guess that's research work. My advice is stick it out and deal with it, because really what choice do you have. The work worth doing can be difficult, but people doing research after me will have one more tool to help them out. That's the joy of doing something like this, and in being a librarian.

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