This week was the first week of my practicum at the New Orleans Museum of Art Felix J. Dreyfous Library. To say the least, my brain is in overdrive processing everything I have learned thus far. To say the most, I am having a great time. So far I am going to have to look back at my cataloging notes to refresh myself on Dewey and Cutter constructing and the different fields and how to punctuate the fields. I have done a little copy cataloging, and need to brush up on it. Cataloging seems like such a breeze in class, but in the real world, where people are counting on you to catalog the book properly so that they can find it, the pressure is on, and I find myself sweating it a little. It is a slow process, but Shelia (the librarian) is patient and such a wonderful teacher. You can't expect everything to be instant. It takes a lot of work for those books to get on the shelf.
I am glad I am of the generation that remembers card catalogs...yes, the giant wood thing that is gathering dust in the back closet of your library...I'm actually using it. I have to say, even though it is looking through cards, it's not much different than looking for something in the computer. You still have to think of all the terms and fields the terms could be in of a book you are looking for, but instead of typing it, you just look for it in the drawers. Even with the electronic system I use at my regular job I sometimes still have to type in several different things before I find what I am looking for, and the same thing with the card catalog. Sometimes you get it first try and sometimes you have to get creative. It's not hard to get creative with this thing.
I am loving it. It reminds me of my elementary school days of browsing the cards and being in awe of what I could find in the library. I'm having some mad flashbacks. But, I digress.
I am starting to learn my way around the references available and I am having a good time looking through them. Shelia and myself come from similar backgrounds (and similar areas, she used to work across the bridge from where I do!) and knows that learning about a special library is a slow process, but I think I will do OK. It just takes some experimenting and looking, which I love to do anyway. I'm a proverbial bull in a china shop when it comes to information, I don't know where to go next.
Shelia and I also discussed a project that I am to work on for the summer. I will be doing research on art museum libraries and community involvement. I am to come up with references and an outline on the role of the museum library in the museum and how to be an integral part of the museum. I am truly looking forward to doing that research.
NOMA is such an interesting place, and so many interesting and knowledgeable people are there from the docents on up to the curators. I am truly looking forward to the rest of the summer...and more walks with views like this: