Monday, February 15, 2010

Speaking of librarian OCD

When the library was automated, the way the videos were cataloged was. . . odd. Videos were separated by broad Dewey ranges, and then just assigned a number in order. So, for example, the first history video that was cataloged was given number 900; the second was 901, and so on. Only there were more than 100 history videos, so the overflow went in the 200s. Which was one of many problems. It was impossible to find things, and browsing didn't work at all, even though the collection was pretty small. I might have two really excellent videos on a topic, but odds are they were nowhere near one another. And, as I believe I've covered, I'm a big believer in collocation.

And, as you can probably tell, it drove me crazy.

"Re-classify the video collection" has been on my list of projects since my first year here, but it always seemed like a daunting task, as I'm not super confident in my ability to assign Dewey numbers, and finding good MARC records for videos is not always as easy I'd like; I could find other libraries that had these videos, but the call numbers would usually be assigned based on some bizarre local system, and not Dewey.

I started small, as I have with my recent shift in where I put the barcodes. New videos that came in got a Dewey number, everything else stayed as is. Which basically took the problem I had before and made it worse. Now videos on a topic could be in any one of three places.

But changing it seemed overwhelming. There were A LOT of videos. And then I had one of those brilliant-yet-completely-obvious ideas--I could just get rid of a bunch of the videos.

So that's what I did. I weeded mercilessly, which the section desperately needed anyway. Most of the videos were on VHS, which is an obsolete technology. There are, maybe, a handful of VCRs on campus, and none will be replaced as those wear out. Also, the videos themselves were OLD, and had not been stored in a way that would make them last (i.e., they were usually kept in direct sunlight, as I don't have any sort of window coverings or climate control). So I did "The Great VHS Giveaway of 2010" and many have found their way to new homes where they will actually be put to use (the rest go to the great VCR in the sky.

After purging over half the collection, reclassifying seemed less daunting. I wasn't super-exacting with the Dewey numbers, focusing mostly on getting the videos classified in a way that it would be possible for teachers to easily find what they're looking for. The numbers are accurate--just not to every last decimal place, which I'm okay with.

Because just having them with Dewey numbers at all and organized in a way that makes sense makes me feel so much less crazy when I look at them.

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