Courtesy of MorgueFile

Nope–not the Denzel movie by the same name, although I saw that. But this post is not nearly so gritty or sordid. Quite the opposite.

As a cataloger, I don’t get out much on a typical day, much to my chagrin. Last week I had a wonderful opportunity…let me explain-

At the end of 2011/ beginning of 2012, our System’s office consolidated from two, leased office suites into one, losing half our space. As a result, we lost our training classroom. We are fortunate to have an absolutely wonderful System trainer–Stephanie Zimmerman–who has her own blog right here. Stephanie used that classroom far more than anyone else, and while I have attended training sessions in that room, I have never been the classroom instructor. Have I mentioned that Stephanie is an exceptional instructor? She is.

Stephanie organizes all training offered to/requested by the member libraries–our customers–with at least one exception: Linking training. As catalogers, it is our responsibility to provide training to member library staff on how to link their donated items and items purchased outside of our acquisitions department to bibliographic records that are already in place in the catalog.

When we had our training classroom, I never had the opportunity to conduct linking training for various reasons and due to various circumstances. However, those circumstances have changed, and I am now one of two (soon to be three) catalogers that hosts linking training classes. How do we do this since we’ve lost our training classroom?

Well, that’s the beauty of it. We now venture out to our member libraries and conduct training sessions on their home turf. We go to our customers. The System has purchased a laptop training lab, which is housed in two rather large, rolling cases. Along with this rolling training lab, we have at our disposal scanners and a projector, which involves transporting another rolling case and a shoulder bag. When you add in materials needed for the training, well, that’s a lot of stuff to take along.

While it is cumbersome, at best, to physically take all of this necessary equipment and material to a training session (my hat is off to Stephanie who does this almost every day), the reward so far outweighs any inconvenience that I, for one, am so very glad that our training classroom was taken away. And I know Stephanie agrees.

How better to understand the vantage point of our member library staff than by visiting them where they live? Yes. It takes a good 45 minutes to set up the training lab (this involves 1 laptop, 1 mouse, and 1 scanner for each participant and the trainer along with a projector for all) and another 45 minutes to tear it down. But the two hours of training in between makes it all worthwhile.

It is so rewarding and eye opening to sit among library staff and listen to their concerns and answer their questions; to explain what we do and why we do it; to ask how we can make life easier for them; and to see, first hand, their surroundings-how they shelve materials, etc. I would rather exert energy lugging equipment with me than wasting time training in isolation–in a classroom that is far removed from the reality of those we seek to serve.

So, yes, although I have conducted on-site, one-on-one training for two of our member libraries (also rewarding), last week was my first group session using the laptop training lab. I completely enjoyed my time with some of the staff from the Quarryville Library. And, moreover, the director also attended the training–how great is that?

I am often disenchanted with cataloging–I am not well suited to it, and it is not well suited to me. But training others to do linking? Being out among library staff? Venturing out from behind my computer? Being in a position to explain, instruct, answer, and acknowledge–that is something I can get behind any day.

I must catalog–this is currently my job. And I take it very seriously. But I’ll take training day, any day. And I intend to do just that whenever possible. I will seize every opportunity to venture out among and within the libraries. Not only does it put me in direct contact with library staff, which I deeply appreciate, it shows me how my efforts behind the scenes impact the patrons of Lancaster County. It gets me into the places where stories are made.

I wish every day were training day.