Saturday, December 8, 2007

Sisyphus at the Typewriter; or, Keep Your Wooden Sabots Away From My Computer

We recently got a huge donation of cat-themed mysteries at work. This is great since we have a high little-old-lady quotient among our patrons, so books that combine mysteries AND cats are the intersection of perfect.

But I have begun to feel like if I go to purgatory when I die, I will be required to type "Lilian Jackson Braun" over and over for the rest of eternity, probably on a typewriter where every third key sticks.

I don't mind using the typewriter for cataloging, even the days like yesterday when I'm clearly too tired to be operating heavy machinery* and I wind up awash in correction fluid. What I mind is typing the same thing over and over and over again on each of the minimum of three catalog cards every book requires, and the fresh hell that breaks loose when a book has subject headings assigned, which each need a card of their own.

Today I realized that while we don't have 3x5 cards that can go through the printer, we do have card stock and a paper cutter. So I took ten minutes and set up a template in Word. And then I cataloged nine books in 15 minutes through the magic of cut and paste when yesterday it took me an hour and a half to get through 6 books. Behold the power of library automation.

*You don't think a typewriter is heavy machinery? Then I invite you to come try to pick up our venerable IBM Selectric, which as far as I can tell is made from a cross between concrete, anvils and pure malevolence. Always assuming you're not scared off by the way it squats in the corner of the room, humming threateningly and radiating evil, of course.

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