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Showing posts from 2014

First few days at library school

My lecturers ( @AnneWelsh @RILADS ) have been quite keen in frequently reminding us of the need for doing reflection on this course, so I be trying to keep up with my blog posts over the next year.

So how has been first few days at UCL been, I hear you wonder? Well...with a course of around 31 people, it has been interesting few days meeting so many people from different library backgrounds. Although, there is a vast majority of soon-to-qualified librarians interested in academic libraries, others have mentioned interest in school, special collections, law, medical and music libraries too. As someone who has an interest in East Asian special collections possibility within academic libraries, it was comforting to know that a lot of my course mates were multiple language speakers. In which has been said to be helpful with their careers.
After last week's pretty long induction week, I was seriously ready to get my hands on some materials. I am not sure if I am regretting my eagernes…

Masters at UCL

It has been gruelling long wait from December to May but worth it as I finally got a place at University College London on the MA in Library and Information Studies course in May.

Since starting the the 22nd September, I have fully enrolled and completed my induction week on the course. Furthermore, just yesterday, me and my fellow students went on a library excursion to Lambeth Palace Library. Although, it is currently undergoing various refurbishments, the degree to there collection on the history of the Church of England in English History was been extensive and well preserved. It would be great to go back in 2019 (proposed date for refurbishment completion) to see how the library and its staff has grown.

I have been surprised with a few bits of homework but no set reading just as yet. However, I am definitely loooking forward to the rest of the year.


Belated greetings from China!

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Is has been a really busy month for me since finishing at Kew. Not only have I been to Rome and Paris but I went on a trip around China. From Beijing, Macau, Guangdong and Hong Kong I had the greatest time exploring the well preserved cultural heritage. The variety of food from chicken feet  and cow intestines (which I am still not a fan of) to the more common chow mein, is definitely a one-time-only experience for me. 

I managed to also meet my boyfriends grandparents for the first time. Even though there was a very obvious language barrier, because I barely speak any Cantonese apart from saying "Hello!" "How are you?" and "Where is the toilet?", they were still very welcoming. 


Now, I am back in London and although I received this news while in China, my hotel internet connection wasn't the best to write blog posts. So to start off, I got my last two blog posts at Kew Gardens published. So I am offically now ex-Kew staff :(


End of the line = On to new things

It is the end of my one-year internship as a Library Graduate Trainee at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. I literally remember it as if it was yesterday when I was led on a tour around the library and the herbarium by the previous graduate trainee, Marc Muller. Fast forward a year, I have spent two days doing the same thing. I am definitely excited for next year's trainees and coming back to Kew to see how they are getting on.

I have definitely grown as a person since being at Kew and achieved a long list of different things since being a Kew. From my projects:
Completely retro-catalogued approx. 500 journals from Japan, China and South America and sections on Bryophytes and Ferns. Approximately 300 newly catalogued books and journals titles.Completed updating the master list in Excel for exchange partners.Completed updating the bookseller list. Completed my conservation and book-binding project to make my first ever journal.Completed the Kew Gardens at War project which has garnered …

New technology in Digital Culture Hertage #BLdigital

Last week, I attended the Digital Conversations: Digital Cultural Heritage seminar at the British Library #BLdigital. It involved a select panel discussion chaired by Paul Gooding (DPC) with Andrew Bevan (Institute of Archaeology, UCL), Kate Devlin (Dept. of Computing, Goldsmiths), Nick Short (Royal Veterinary College) and Professor Melissa Terras (UCLDH). 

What was most interesting to me was just how varied digitisation and new technology in 3D imaging and computer modelling is spreading in terms of cultural heritage organisations for art, archaeology, history and in libraries, archives, museums and galleries sector. Currently, we already have the best quality, colour and storage capabilities but now there is a need to allow people to see an image in various ways through image processing. For example, Melissa Terras explains that in order to know how best to capture information for damaged text or fragile items is to test re-create the damage (e.g. archival paper with blood splatter o…

Being a Subject Librarian

I am currently on a long road towards my dream of being a Subject Librarian for East Asian collections. During my last few months as a Library Graduate Trainee at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, I thought it would a good opportunity to meet and talk with individuals within this field as a form of CPD. Last week, I interviewed Fujiko Kobayashi, the Subject Librarian for Japan and Korea at SOAS. The questions below formed the basis of my talk with her about her role and its importance within the university. How did you come into your role? How do you spend most of your day? How do you see your career progressing? Fujiko like many other librarians simply fell into the role. First from teaching in Japan, to volunteering as a teacher in Malaysia before moving to America and studying Librarianship as a random interest. She greatly credits that participating in a Masters degree around the time were the internet really took off, allowed her new skills in cataloguing and programming with HTML an…

Wearble Technology and Libraries

Technology Trends in Libraries for 2014from David King
I had the pleasure of reading though David Lee King slides for Technology Trends for Libraries in 2004. I have already been keen on the health monitor bands in Maplin stores and Nike Fuelbands in stores. However, last week the Observer article about "Why audiobooks are the perfect running aid?" got me really thinking about 'wearable technology in libraries' which is the second trend on the slides.

For a while, digital audiobooks have been active in mp3 formats for iPods and Amazon Kindle. So it is understandable why such technology will impact the usage of traditional libraries in future. Afterall, it is self-reliant on the user downloading their audiobook of choice from a simple 3G or wi-fi connection and using it on-the-go. What is interesting about this article is it seems to target the niche market of working adults who have very little time to work out and still visit a library. This stirs away from targeted …

Light-sensitivity in displays

So I have been passed on an interesting to link by my line manager about a blog post that focuses on the affects of light on artwork/ objects. Since working in illustrations on alternative Tuesdays as mentioned in my typical day as a library graduate trainee post, this is a really important issue in displaying old and rare special collections and especially illustrations. 


A lot of the items we have in the Archives and Illustrations are boxed in dark storage for the simple reason of reducing fire and possible water damage but also reducing light induced damage such as paper discolouration. Ink or watercolour artworks on vellum are another tricky item to display due to the material morphing under environmental temperature changes.Due to this, I have definitely been thinking about what items to select from the Library, Art & Archives collection for my commemorative exhibition project focusing on Kew’s involvement in plant science during the First World War. 


Thankfully, a lot of the i…

Friday: Typical day as a Library Graduate Trainee

It may be a bank holiday today but I thought I would blog about my Friday last week.

My first project to create a list of exchange partners in Excel to help build stronger relations between the acquisitions team and international exchange partners is slowly drawing to a close. I am slowly adding all the contact information and email addresses of about 300 vendors. Even though I technically completed updating the list in February, there are still on elements that can be considered unfinished. For example, exchange partners whose websites have run out of bandwidth, have non-existant re-directs to the new website or webpages taking 30 minutes at a time, have been holding me back in gaining access. It becomes even more of a problem in areas with not a lot of advanced technology.


It is days like this I really appreciate the importance of access to information and that all important internet connection. A lot of these vendors have phone numbers but no website to detail their purpose. Some …

Thursday: Typical day as a Library Graduate Trainee

So it is nearly the end of the week and I had to get up early to ensure I got to work before 9am. The start of my 4 hours shift on the enquiry desk as a “gopher or resource retrieval”. Whenever someone enquirers about an items it is my responsibility to retrieve it from a variety of different library locations. Luckily, I didn’t have to walk 10 minutes (either way) to our Studies Office Library in the School of Horticulture or Mycology Library in the Jodrell (branches libraries). Furthermore, today was another relatively not busy day with a few enquires and retrievals in the morning.

I did however get some scanning requests. I finally got trained in using the USB operated flatbed scanner for small A4 sized books instead of the large table scanner. It was quite straightforward and quick I am pleased to say. Thinking back to my university student days it would have really come in hardy for our foreign speaking students as the first thing on the touch screen menu is a language select opti…

Wednesday: Typical day as a Library Graduate Trainee

It is mid-week and I am having a busy morning doing a little bit of administrative work. I have my first meeting with someone outside of my library team :- our main source/ go-to-guy/ researcher for our large end of year exhibition to comemorate Kew Gardens involvement during World War One in terms of stories of plant science, research and plant-based products from the Library,, Art & Archives and Economic Botany collection. So, the first thing for me to do is to gather together my research in an organised fashion and set up a meeting to view some materials from the Economic Botany collection for our display.
One thing I learnt from having this meeting is that organisation of research and a planned agenda key. Being able to be in a place like the pub/restaurant also helps encourage individuals to be relaxed enough to actually get involved and contribute to the discussion.

Tuesday: Typical day as a Library Graduate Trainee

Every alternative Tuesday, I work with the Illustrations team and today was another one of those days. After checking through some the work I did the day before, I was tasked with the challenge of finding a number of listed illustrations and taking photographs of them. On a normal day this would be the simple case of searching on the catalogue for the location of the rare books in which the illustrations are in. However, the whole entire library catalogue down. So I have been left with searching through rows and rows of rolling stacks with different call numbers.

I have to say at the end of the day, I was more appreciative of the opportunity to get to know the rare books titles and locations little bit better, so it wasn’t complete a waste of a few hours. I think a number of things I learnt with this task were patience and the importance of natural light. Discolouration of paper from the reaction of light means that in fluorescent light, all the illustrations had this mustard yellow b…

Monday: Typical start to my week as a Library Graduate Trainee

So it has been about a solid 6 months into my traineeship and I have been making good progress into all my duties. So, I thought it would a good idea to document a typical week in my traineeship at Kew.
Bright and early into the office this morning and first on the agenda is changing the book display. This gets done about every two weeks but considering the fact that I have been cataloguing so many new books and now it is the end of the financial year, the inflow of new books is scarce. Nonetheless, there is still a pretty good variety of books and journals present.

Next on the list of my many duties is retro-cataloguing some serials from the South American region. The majority so far have been completely in Portuguese or Spanish with a few in English. Not being a native speaker when cataloguing can sometimes be problematic. Especially when identifying if the publisher is an important institute, government body or society, which should be named as corporate author responsibility in the …

New Developments in Library Cataloguing

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So the Archives and Society had a seminar on 4th Feb and I decided to pop along. After all it is not every day you get to have a free taster session from the Cataloguing and Classification lecturer, Anne Welsh (UCL).

Having not come from a typical library school background I was expecting to be thrown into a world of jargon about all the new things in cataloguing, I would eventually have to adopt. However, to my surprise Anne presented an in-depth review of the history of cataloguing to bring the unbeknownst archive majority in the room up to speed. Oblivious to many in the library field the next move for cataloguers is RDA. Finally a move away from the cataloguing entry of MARC21, to a tool that allows linkages between various formats of the same items (e.g. book to film) and various authority headings.

For many cataloguers, that idea of #marcisdead comes with unfavourable change to those stuck in their ways of the absolute metadata standards of IBSD needed for cataloguing within MAR…

The Art of Cataloguing & Classification: Lessons learnt

Before I began cataloguing?
I always thought that catalouging was complex data entry. To be perfectly honest with you, I still relatively see it as the same thing now. You enter important information about an item which create a catalogue record for the intended user to find the item when they search for it. The more access points you can create e.g. the subject of the item, the more refined your searches become. 

How do you catalogue?
Bowman's "Essential Cataloguing" book has really given me more insight into the world of cataloguing in the simplest way. Cataloguing involves a vast amount of strict rules all set out in book over 500 pages called the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2). These strict rules are inputted in a machine readable format called MARC which places all the data into a descriptive fields that the user can understand.

Last but not least, to ensure that any library that wants to use the same information, International Standard Bibliographic Descripti…

Botanical Books Display

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Usually fortnightly, me and colleague changes the books display with new books that we have catalogued. Focusing on a range of different botanical themes with range of different sizes we come up with eye-catching displays with highly scientific information.


As I have catalogued a few of the books on this display, I want to also demonstrate how I have been thought to catalogue books with SirsiDynix Symphony in a cute little presentation. So, look forward to my next post.

Audiences for Asian collections

As it is an ambition of mine to work with Asian collections in the future, I was delighted to be invited to NACIRA annual conference, topical on “redefining the audiences for Asian collections”.

I was really surprised to hear the interesting projects such as the conservation and digitization of the Lewis-Gibson Genizah collection between Oxford and Cambridge (which still sounds weird given their history).However, Oliver Urquhart Irvine from the British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership Project is one that really caught my eye.

The idea of creating a completely online digital repository rich with content about the history of the Gulf and Arabic Science, with bilingual searches and metadata in English and Arabic, is something that hasn’t really being thought of before on such a scale. Utilising project management skills with digital humanities knowledge within libraries, I saw how the project was split into phrases to include aspects of the library catalogue, functionality via platfo…