Guest Author – Corinne Jacox, Catalog / Reference Librarian, Creighton University Law Library
Mentoring someone is always a rewarding experience. In 2011, I spent around 8 months mentoring the new librarian at the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia Library. She had never worked as a librarian before and my task was to teach her cataloging. The library uses OCLC (they contribute a fair number of original records) and had just started using an online catalog. I had used the library many times for personal genealogy research, but had never worked with the behind-the-scenes workflow.
It ended up that we both learned along the way. The library receives quite a few materials that are in German, or even Russian. Fortunately, there is a staff member who can help with translating, but it was still a challenge when it came to assigning subject headings as it was a subject area I had no experience in. The same applied to assigning call numbers. Although the library uses the LC schedules (which is what I’m familiar with), we were using schedules in topic areas I had not used before. These situations show the importance of following standards and that is what we based our learning on. The library’s new catalog was a system I was not familiar with so we both studied many help files to determine how to get things done. Despite the big learning curve for both of us, it was a rewarding experience. It was good for me to do some cataloging outside of the law discipline and I made a new friend along the way.