For several years, my career took me to archives and special collections. I worked on a state wide digital repository. My duties included metadata, creating guidelines, migrating metadata from one system to the repository or checking for data consistency and accuracy. My primary tasks were more on user support, systems, project management, and outreach. I dove into my work and was able to gain more knowledge about how systems work, how to run and manage IT projects, infrastructure, and the data lifecycle. After three years, my role really was to help get the repository along with my colleagues off the ground and running. Once accomplished, I returned to technical services. My old unit had changed dramatically in 3 years. There was a new unit head, my old supervisor having retired. There was a new nextGen ILS, Alma/Primo. I jumped into the work and found that my work was dramatically different than what it had been before I left the unit and this was exciting.
First, my work is much more systems related. It is important to understand the relationship between how inventory is managed in Alma, how this inventory is published or pushed to Primo, and how this data interacts with content from vendors and Primo. It is a complex infrastructure of data being exchanged, transformed, normalized, shared, and displayed. This was similar to my experiences with the digital repository. I enjoy the complexity of these systems because there is always something to learn and improve along the way.
Second is project management. Cataloging and metadata is project based work. Most units have dozens of projects in play throughout the year. In my new unit, agile was just being discovered. With the digital repository, we tried our best to apply agile principles. I brought that experience to my new unit as well as techniques to help projects move forward and come to completion. This is a skill I’m still developing and will speak about at more length going forward.
Beyond bring other new skills, I have to say that it is good to be part of the cataloging and metadata community again. This is an exciting time to be in technical services. There are a number of innovations – linked data, BIBFRAME, Semantic Web. More than that, there a number of new ways for technical services to contribute to librarianship. It’s good to be back.