A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Describe your experience using OCLC or a similar bibliographic utility to locate and customize records for a local catalog.

As an adjunct academic librarian at Bronx Community College, I was responsible for cataloging a nominal amount of books and monographs under the supervision of the college's cataloger. Our standard and baseline was always the Online Computer Library Center record; in fact, many institutions "copy-catalog" the record available in OCLC and super-impose it into their OPACs.

The scope and range of WorldCat (the OPAC of the OCLC) is unparalleled. For example, there are 470 languages and 112 countries constitute the catalog, but what makes it irreplaceable is its scope of format; the OCLC catalogs "books, videos, serial publications, articles, recorded books and music, electronic books, sheet music, genealogical references, cultural artifacts, digital objects,...[and]Web sites".

As an information assistant with the Rosenthal Library of Queens College, we would use WorldCat when the C.U.N.Y.+ system was down or offline for repairs and upgrades. In fact, I distinctly remember using WorldCat to accurately pinpoint the location of materials during the first week of the Fall 2008 semester. If it weren't for that bit of administrative assistance we would have never made it out of those wilds.

Last, the OCLC record also contains information that would be useful for collection development and reader's advisory purposes. You could totally recommend a book for a patron based on this function, or you could lead patrons to that portion of the record so that they may read reviews from readers on Amazon or Good Reads.

In many ways, the OCLC, and WorldCat in particular, are like that Swiss Army Knife
every librarian carries in her tool box.

Provide details on your experience in developing and maintaining web content. Specify the software applications you have used for the design and layout of graphics and web pages.

I use Dreamweaver to design and construct all my web pages, and Photoshop to correctly render images. I have been designing web pages since 2007, mostly as end- of-the-semester projects. In 2008 I designed an website for Information Assistants at the Rosenthal Library that delineated protocols and provided helpful hints for a "smooth shift" at the Rosenthal. Since the program at Queens College is the only program for librarians in the City University system, I took great pride in knowing that I had designed a resource for all the librarians coming through the C.U.N.Y. system and getting their "sea legs" at the Rosenthal like myself.

Likewise, in 2009, I saw great need for the creation of an ancillary website for the Resource Learning Center of Bronx Community College. I created the website using Dreamweaver and Photoshop in less than a week and uploaded the website eagerly. I have created an online portfolio and linked both websites, http://qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/~ycura100. This led me to build, develop, and maintain a literary journal, Hinchas de Poesia. We have recently completed building the architecture for the third issue, which is viewable at www.hinchasdepoesia.com, and await the integration of the micro-press which should bring substantial traffic, and possibly some revenue.

In working at a busy public service desk, what do you consider the most important criteria for offering excellent public service? Describe an experience in which you provided good customer service in a library setting. Explain what made this a successful encounter.

Offering excellent public service is not difficult; it is time-consuming and costly but it is a vital part of the "service" librarians accomplish. Treating each interaction like a singular occurrence helps to propel the success of reference interviews. But, the reference interview is fraught with many pitfalls; over time, these "failings" can alienate clientele and make staff seem unapproachable, even hostile.

Therefore, I believe that the success of a reference interview rests squarely with the interlocutor. Body language is a big part of it, so it is vital that you look patrons in the eye and give them your full attention by facing them. Also, patrons look to reference desk staff for questions, but also I suspect for a little interaction. So, a successful reference librarian will engage with the public and create a space where questions are welcome landmarks.

An example that comes to mind involves my tenure as an adjunct academic librarian with Bronx Community College. I was at the reference desk taking questions from walk-ins and dazed students; three separate students asked about the same topic so I held an impromptu lesson with these three students on the prominent, convenient, and helpful features of Opposing Viewpoints, a database of articles organized by subject and divided into pro and con stances.

Downloadable content such as eBooks and streaming media formats are burgeoning in popularity. How do you think these trends will affect public library collections and services in the years to come?

I believe that the popularity of eBooks and streaming media formats will continue to grow unabated. Therefore, for a library to remain viable as a repository of culture, it must adapt to advances in technology and format. Because all that eBooks and streaming media formats require is a platform, these formats will undoubtedly shrink the physical space of a library. The space in a library will serve to welcome and root patrons to the physical landscape not just house books.

In addition, the hardware at libraries will increase as patrons seek answers expressed in streaming media formats. Smart boards might become essential to the task of servicing inquisitive patrons and providing quality information service. The reality is that no one really knows where Technology is taking the modern library, but we all can agree that it will survive its evolution and take an earnest interest in finding a way to bridge the analog and the digital.

No comments: