We agreed to use the Zotero desktop and mobile apps to make a first pass of cataloguing FoAM's small but esoteric library. Aside from a few annoying glitches, we were able to go through the library quite rapidly, scanning the barcodes with the mobile app while setting aside those items that could not be scanned, or needed special attention (such as all the periodicals, magazines, etc.). A second pass involved manually looking up the ISBN numbers from within the desktop application, or searching online for the bibliographic data via WorldCat or similar and importing these citations into Zotero via the browser plugin, for the items that had no barcodes or could not otherwise be scanned.
Zotero online group libraries would seem to offer some flexible possibilities for extending our cataloguing initiative into a collective, inter-organisational library database. Moreover, since Zotero catalogues can be exported in several formats (BibTex export works very well, for instance), if we decide to use another system in future it should be quite easy to transfer the database over.
After the heavy lifting of the initial pass, there remained what seemed to be an infinite regress of small items – journals, magazines, random books and journals that slipped through the dragnet, a vast pile of grey literature. And it was all a mess. I ripped everything off the shelves and out of the boxes and dumped the lot on the floor. From there I attempted to reassemble the material into the most basic and easy-to-use categories that were still somehow useable. I don't think this has been quite successful – but I think it's on the way.
In my absence over summer some amazing assistants tackled and substantially resolved the most serious nightmare of this library – the ephemera. Thanks to them, this mass of the greyest of grey literature has now been sifted, sorted, and boxed by year for neat filing away on shelves.
However, we must rally our efforts. The deluge of ephemera is unstoppable and will require ever-renewed vigilance to ensure that the forces of greyness do not completely overwhelm us. But do not despair – together we shall conquer! Per aspera ad astra!
An entire shelf of randomness has accumulated. It's not that this randomness can't be accommodated somewhere in the library, but rather, whether it should. It all comes back to sifting and sorting stuff out. There could be critical documents in this shelf. Yet there also appears to be much that doesn't need to be kept.
We presently have the luxury of a dedicated library space (even if it often just ends up as a storeroom), but in coming years this will by no means be guaranteed. How might the collection become more “mobile”? First, the excess could be discarded. Multiple redundant copies, irrelevant material, useless ephemera… But second, the digital catalogue might become much more important: metadata, notes, comments, connections in the database, but also digitised copies.
Zotero is not so good for cataloguing CDs, DVDs, and all the other miscellaneous kinds of disks out there. The “Disks” section in any case is close to redundant, as most of this material can be archived on the servers, and if necessary catalogued using more appropriate methods. So now there's another shelf of stuff that needs “further review”…
year [volume:issue] additional info(additional info can be season/month(s), thematic name of the issue, etc.); this is a bit kludgy, but at least in this format the notes will sort by date and issue for easy reference
Languagefield: multiple languages separated by commas (e.g
nld,fra,eng> ISO 639-3 > http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp