Supervise: a new journey

Just a couple of weeks ago I accepted to embrace a new challenge. I am responsible for the cataloguing activities of the new collections officer that joined our team a month ago. Briefly, I am now supervising!

In the specific I am asked to teach how to amend the imported cataloguing records for DVDs, according to our cataloguing policy. Despite the task could appear limited it actual requires me a lot of planning in order to deliver it properly. I have to prepare a defined training program that does not contain neither too much information (overload) not poor explanation. Not so easy.

Before moving to the practical part (amending cataloguing records) I have to make sure that the officer understands the cataloguing activity process and the basic principles of AACR2, MARC21 that govern it.

I therefore decided to plan the first session and cover the following topics, in this way:
• Brief overview of MARC21 and AACR2
• Understanding the DVD as a specific item
• Introduction/meaning of specific MARC fields using the Cataloguing module on SirsiDynix
o 1XX/7XX [Author/Added entry]
o 245 [Title]
o 246 [Varian title]
o 260 [Publication info]
o 300 [Physical description]

Desirable outcomes of our first session:

• Awareness of the 1XX/7XX, 245, 246, 260 and 300 marc fields
• Amending imported record [practical exercise]

After the session I monitored her cataloguing work and I have to admit that I was impressed by the result. I felt extremely exhausted, teaching how to catalogue it’s really demanding. It is not only about teaching how to follow specific rules but above all developing the so called cataloguer’s judgment by understand the author’s intention and when a rule should not be followed. It definitely requires patience and hard work, but I am confident that I will transfer this skill naturally with time.

At the end, the officer was satisfied by my explanation of the whole process and I am actively motivating her to be curious and I welcome her bombarding with questions. The next session is planned the next week. Wish me luck!

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Effective meetings

General Grant’s Council of War, Massaponax Church, Virginia by Timothy H. O’Sullivan © MoMA

What do you think is necessary to make effective meetings? This morning I attended to a workshop about this topic and I am sharing just few notes about it. There are a number of factors that determine the actual efficacy. One of the secret is the length: a meeting should be long enough to cover specific topics but short enough to be interesting and participative. Another one is setting a clear purpose.

A meeting journey is composed by three phases: pre-meeting/preparation –> actual meeting –> follow-up/actions.

There are three main roles: the chairperson, the minute taker and participants. Obviously the main character in meetings is played by the chairperson who has to engage participants, setting the tone and keep the meeting on track.

The minute taker plays an important role because he is forced to be an active listener and has to use specific skills such as accuracy, objectivity and the ability of selecting what it is relevant.

Finally the participants. They should be active and engaged with discussions and updates. Their suggestions and feedback should be valuable, open and constructive.

It’s quite easy to remark factors that led to a bad meeting. This is my (negative) top 5. On the other hands, this could be my positive top five if you turn the points upside down.

5) Meetings with a weak agenda. Often repetitive and dull.

4) Chairperson/colleague who does not allow others to speak, also classified as “the talker” or “know all” or “I judge you”.

3) Weak chairperson without any prior preparation. Usually this category of people is not able to control meetings and the length of the time.

2) I am personally annoyed when I spot a colleague checking his ipad/laptop for news or emails. If you are attending at a meeting at least pretend to be interested and leave your ipad/laptop in the office, unless it’s essential to your role.

1) No actions taken. Ok so what’s the point of a meeting? It’s a waste of time for everyone.