An unusual collection

Creating my own reel librarian collection in graduate school

For those of you who are regular readers of this blog — how y’all doing? —  you know that I wrote an undergraduate thesis all about librarian portrayals in film. Heck, I even wrote about the starting list of films used for that thesis a couple of weeks ago. So this subject comes up a lot, is what I’m saying. 🙂

What I haven’t talked about yet is that I even carried that love of reel librarians into graduate school, as you’ll see below. My first semester, I took a core course called “Basic Information Organization.”

One of the major projects in that course that we had to complete was creating our own library collection/database and then cataloging at least 10 items in that collection (we used the Inmagic database program). We also had to create our own system of cataloging and provide how-to instructions — going through this process made me appreciate catalogers even more! — as well as write a paper all about the collection with sections explaining who our users were, including sample user problems and questions, etc. Basically, through this project, we had to think about how we personally organize things, and then think through how others would be able to understand and use that system of organization.

We even had to do some usability testing, meaning that a real person had to search our individual databases using those sample questions and try to find the answers/items. My guinea pig? My husband, of course! I had TOTALLY forgotten about that, as had he, until I reread my paper. 🙂

So, details. I chose to place my fictional collection, “The Collection of Librarian Portrayals on Film” (continuing my streak of awkward titles) in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. Why there? I bet y’all are thinking. Rereading this, I wondered that, too, but then I remembered that Berkeley is one of the few places that includes programs for both film studies and library/information science. And Bancroft Library is well-known for its special collections. Lucky Bancroft Library, eh?

Here was my project description:

Project collection description
Project collection description

Hee hee, videocassettes! But I did recognize later on in the paper that “Technology will also affect format, as videos will probably be replaced by other forms of media, such as DVDs or another future product. This collection will need to focus on archiving and maintaining the quality of its films.” Oh, past tense me, you were such a hoot! 😉

And here’s my description of user needs for this fictional library collection:

User needs for my film collection project
User needs for my film collection project

I even came up with my own call numbers, or classification code:

Classification code for Party Girl
Classification code for Party Girl

By the way, that is so NOT the kind of call number I would come up with today. Why did I think back then that the MPAA rating was so important?

And finally, here’s a sample record in my database, for the 1995 film Party Girl:

Database record for Party Girl
Database record for Party Girl

By the way, I did make a good grade on that project (I can hear my mom now, “Of course!”), and it helped me prepare for an upcoming cataloging course. It also deepened my eternal appreciation for catalogers. But I do remember my professor asking me questions about my inspiration for this collection — because she, too, had been perplexed at first about who would be the users! But by the end of this project (we had to do 4 drafts!), she was intrigued by the idea, too. 🙂

So another little step in the journey to this blog. Thank you, graduate school, for those opportunities to continue exploring my love of reel librarians. ♥


Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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