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My Tenure with the BIP/Google Team February 10, 2011

Posted by Christopher Lemery in BIP, Google.
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I thought it would be a good idea to go into some detail about what my current position with the Penn State Libraries entails. I am currently the head of the Barcoding Inventory Project (BIP) Team. I began this position in January of 2009 serving under Jackie Dillon-Fast.  The Barcoding Inventory Project was started in 2005 with the goal of placing barcode labels on all items in the three Libraries Annex facilities that lacked labels. The vast majority of the monographs were already done, but the serials were almost entirely untouched. As you can imagine, this was a huge project. (You can find the presentation Jackie and I did in 2009 on the BIP project here.) By the time I arrived, the largest annex facility, Cato I, was done, thanks to Jackie’s hard work. When I started, work on the items in the Academic Activities Annex had just begun. And yes, “Academic Activities” is the single most generic name for a campus building ever. But we’re next to the building with a (really small) nuclear reactor, so maybe there’s a limit on the number of exciting buildings per block.

Anyway, the day-to-day work involves pulling serial titles off the shelves that need to be barcoded. We then place a label on each bound item in the series and then add the barcode number and item information for each item to the correct catalog record. The items then go back on the shelf. It’s not very exciting, but it is vital to Library users’ ability to find and use our collection. The job does provide a unique sense of accomplishment, though. It’s great to be able to fix really messed-up records and know that the fixes I’ve made will make things easier to find. It’s also nice to be able to know that a certain amount of physical material is done. Hard numbers make it easier to see how astonishing our progress has been.

The BIP project intersects with the CIC Google Books project in that we’ve had to process some stuff before it can go off to Google to be scanned. In fact, Google is sort of paying my salary, so they’re really integral to the BIP project. People ask me what types of things Google wants, but I never have a definite answer, because their stated answer to that question is “everything.” They seem to be doing a lot of grey literature (technical reports and such), though, so having that stuff out there will be a huge boon to researchers. Of course, there is also the occasional item that I can’t imagine anyone wanting to look at, but having it digitized is better than having it just sit there, too.

More than anything, my tenure has again reinforced how many vital behind-the-scenes jobs there are in libraries that no one knows about but without which libraries wouldn’t be nearly as cool as they are!

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