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Week Four: The Last Touches

I started the week by making sure the information on SharedShelf was correct and complete. Over the weekend, I noticed that not all of the scans had been published, so I corrected that and made a few small adjustments when I noticed a couple inaccuracies and typos. But overall, I was satisfied and proud of my work being online and accessible to the public. Then began the process I am completing now, creating a WordPress blog about the experience I’ve had in the last month. I can definitively say that this project and process had given me a new appreciation for everything librarians and library staff do on a daily basis. During this month of my practicum, the library was in the middle of a system change yet everyone was still happy and willing to help me and talk about what they do*

*Piper Cumbo here. You can view Mady Palmer’s work here in SharedShelf for an undetermined amount of time. This concludes her June term Library Practicum.




Week Three: Metadata and Publication


Redoing my work spilled over into week three where I found more fun and quirky articles. But the bulk of the work I did during the week was scanning and creating the metadata for the images. For each image scanned, I cleaned up the edges of the pages, removed my fingers from some images using our software, and created the metadata for each image. It was less time-consuming and painstaking than I anticipated, and it was satisfying to see the hard work I had been doing “on paper” so to speak. I read or at least skimmed through every article, personal note, and blurb to find the information needed about the item. This part of the project was where I learned the most about the former students and how much they impacted the school and the local community. Several of the students, namely those who graduated, had an impact on the school and the community as a whole. When William McKinney gave his graduation speech in both Choctaw and English, he was given a standing ovation. Reading about the accomplishments of our Choctaw students has shown me how Roanoke College has always had a rich and inviting history, even in our years as a young college.

Finally the day arrived at the end of the week, publication day! I met with Dave to have him look over the metadata. As he is the resident expert on that particular subject, he was the one guiding me through it and checking that my work was accurate and complete. After a quick look-over, he decided it was time to publish the work on SharedShelf Commons. A few short moments later, and my hard work was available for the public to access and view. Being able to show my friends and family the work I had been putting all my time into for three weeks left me with a sense of satisfaction that I didn’t expect. It is amazing to see the work I did on a website alongside the work of other institutions and some that professionals have done.


Week Three: Cataloging and Acquisitions

In addition to the exciting part of completing my project, I had the privilege of meeting with the cataloguers and the women in charge of acquisitions and collections for Fintel Library. The jobs are much more complex than I realized coming into this month. In fact, I had no idea that a cataloguer creates call numbers for new books. There are so many handbooks and rule books on how to properly catalogue books and other items. The process of acquisitions and collections is tied in with budgeting and cataloguing in some respects as well. Each item we receive must be accounted for in the budget and it needs to be decided what is worth renewing (as far as journals and e-subscriptions go) in relation to the use students and faculty got out of it. Every facet of work in a small library is interconnected in some way, and meeting with everyone who works behind the scenes solidified that for me.


The project side of my second week become much more in-depth than the first. I sat down with Dave, Nitra, and Piper to figure out exactly what type of metadata I would be creating for this project. Metadata is the information a user sees at a glance that gives the most important information about the item they looked up. For example, for the Choctaw project the metadata I made included named students, date, title, subtitle, creator, and description, along with a couple of other information points. This way, a user can look for the information pertaining specifically to S.J. Homer without going through each image. It is available in the metadata!

Towards the end of the week when I was almost done with my scanning, I noticed that some of what I was working on had nothing to do with the students I was focused on. A more thorough look revealed that several key articles had not been marked for me and some of what had been was not the correct information. Much to my frustration, I deleted all of the scanning I had done thus far and I decided to start from scratch. I spent a few days going through all of the volumes that I had page by page to find everything about the Choctaw students. It took extra time and work, but they payoff was more than worth it. During this search, I found not only interesting items about our former Choctaw students, but also intriguing articles and fun pieces. One year, there were entries in both French and German in every issue. There was local gossip which is always fun to read. So, even though I had to redo a fair amount of work, the information I gained and the glimpse into the past I saw made the extra work well worth it.


During my second week, I learned more about the administrative side of the library. I met with Elizabeth McClenney , the library director, and I learned about some of what her job entails. In addition to hiring, training, budgeting, and other things that people associate with administration, directors work with the community or institution to figure out what works and what doesn’t within the library. A director or library dean will look at other institution and community libraries to determine if they are keeping pace with the surrounding area. I learned that there is a difference in the responsibilities of a director or dean for an institution than that of a public library. Our administrative staff here at Roanoke College work very hard to make sure that Fintel is a welcoming place to students and faculty, and that there is a space for every type of person.


Week One: The Practicum and The People

The practicum got off to a confusing start as Piper and I were informed that instead of the anticipated 40 hours of hands on work and reading, I was required to complete 120 hours of work and reading. The workload I was given increased but Piper made sure that the reading was all relevant and interesting. During my first week I met with several of the librarians and staff that students often see and interact with. Piper Cumbo, Jeffrey Martin, Sara Blaha, Hany Hosny, and Nitra Eatsby are all familiar to students who have been in the library as often as I have been in my time at Roanoke. It was fun to learn about how each of them came to work here at Fintel and what their educational background is. Every person wears several hats so to speak, and everyone must be able to do several different jobs in at least some capacity.

I also met with Dave Wiseman, the resident tech savvy librarian. He gave me a general idea about what type of work he does, and also the basics of what my project would become. He showed me the scanner that I have become familiar with, as well as the system that is used to change aspects of the digital object once it is scanned. Nitra helped as well, as she is working on an ongoing project to digitize old yearbooks. The system gives one the ability to change what type of file the image is saved as, and one can also decide if the image will be OCR compatible. If it is, this gives the user the ability to manipulate the PDF and search for words within the PDF. Some PDFs do not have this feature which is why I made sure they are all OCR. The process of learning the new technology was a bit daunting, but once I got used to it, it was a breeze use.