Thursday, September 28, 2006

New heights of nerdiness (MLA report)

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I attended sessions of the Minnesota Library Association conference. Tuesday, I took an ill co-worker's place at a pre-conference training workshop on cataloging sound recordings. Yesterday, I attended the Millenials/Net Gen presentation by some university librarians, and the "Are You the Librarian?" paraprofessional session presented by Valeria Fike from College of DuPage, who was named the Library Journal paraprofessional of the year.

The pre-conference training on audio cataloging was very technical and the two presenters (Kathy Blough from St. Olaf and Mary Huisman from the U of M) gave many specific, practical tips and cited the corresponding cataloging rules for everything. Learning about how to catalog new formats was actually quite interesting, since I wasn't aware of the kinds of notes that need to be made in a MARC record.

Example from Hennepin County's library catalog:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets sound recording.

The MARC record (MARC=Machine Readable Cataloging record, a format that library computer systems can read with searchable fields and lots of strange-looking punctuation.)

In the session, we learned what types of notes to make on records for different types of audio, like super audio discs, DVD audio, and other crazy things like those books on tape that come pre-loaded on a player, which is done by Playaway. Everyone in the room seemed pretty excited about the Playaway books.

Yesterday's sessions were less hands-on practical, but I did learn that I am a millenial, part of the net-gen (or generation y) and the panel of students from Bethel was, I'm sure, enlightening for everyone in the room who isn't part of our generation. We watched a "60 Minutes" clip on this generation of kids, and it kind of grossly overgeneralized what we are like, but it was still apropos. The students on the panel were asked to talk about their typical days, and they described being very plugged in, with iPods, palm pilots, laptops, cell phones. A coworker at my table was like, "What's Facebook?" when all of the panel members admitted logging into e-mail and Facebook upon waking up. I had to raise my hand and ask them to describe it and I promised to show my coworker what it's like.

Since I am a library paraprofessional, that session was kind of affirming, except I tend to disagree with Valeria Fike on the matter of library paraprofessionals as real professionals. In that room, I didn't want to admit that I'm in school for a MLIS degree. The tips on resumes and keeping a portfolio were good, though, and I will probably do many of them to help my chances of getting a job at some later point.

After the sessions, I walked the convention floor and got some chocolate and some goodies (a tote bag from Spotlight that's pink and says, "Read!" and a few buttons). Overall, a good day, but I went home and took a long nap. I was exhausted and didn't feel all that well, but now I'm up and at 'em today with not much to do. Cataloging homework, here I come.

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