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20 May 2012


I know I’ve mentioned here before... where did I put it... oh yes, here... that Gary and I like to volunteer at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and I did my practicum project (a requirement for the MLIS I’m working on) at the volunteer library there.

I don’t actually get a chance to go up the museum very often these days. My work schedule just doesn’t allow for it. So that’s disappointing, because I really miss it and I know they need the help. But the good thing about this practicum project was that it could be done mostly online. So I could work on it from the comfort of our home office at 2 AM in my pajamas and that was awesome.

The project was basically just getting the library’s little catalog online so that folks could access it. The “real” catalog is just an Access database on the guild librarian’s home computer. That’s fine for a small collection like this one -- but that means that no one except the guild librarian knows what, exactly, is actually supposed to be on the shelves. I thought it might be helpful to the volunteer guild members to have that info on the Internet somewhere so that they could browse and maybe pick out some reading material without having to navigate through the super-cramped break room (a.k.a. “library”) in the volunteer office.

I used LibraryThing to get the catalog online. I’m still working out some kinks -- like, how to indicate that items are checked out or missing. There’s really no easy way to do that, since LibraryThing doesn’t include any kind of circulation functionality. And then there’s the AV materials. LibraryThing is set up for books, not movies or music. It is possible to add other types of materials, but not commonly done. And THEN there’s the stuff at the Sugar Land location, and the new stuff, and the docent notebooks for upcoming exhibits, and... well, you get the idea. I got credit for just getting the bulk of the catalog online, but it really is an ongoing project.

Anyway, it probably doesn’t look like much to you, but I’m pretty happy with it so far. I also got to put together a mini-manual for catalog conversion procedures (adding tags and things like that), plus a quick start guide for users and a little article for the volunteer guild’s magazine, The Dashing Diplodocus. So that was fun.

Photo by my buddy Teresa!

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