What do we do when the students aren’t around?

Actually it doesn’t really matter to a cataloguer whether its term time (erm or semester time), because it doesn’t effect our work load.  We carry on regardless of the time of year, though we do have some flows and ebbs that are related to students – such as making sure all the multiple copy textbooks get out on the shelves as quickly as possible.  I am amazed by how many people do ask me if I get the summer off though (if only!) – however, this seems to be a generic question for anyone who works in any capacity for a university.  Just because undergraduates aren’t being taught during these summer months doesn’t mean the University grinds to a halt though!

This week, however, one could perhaps quite legitimately ask what the cataloguers are doing, because this week is when our library management system (Voyager) is being upgraded.  It is a good week to take time off, because you can’t get on with the main part of the job, but its also a good week to catch up on all those tasks you put off because they aren’t cataloguing.

There is some obligatory desk tidying, and email sorting (both of which I have yet to get round to); this week I also intend to write a selection of blog posts (ready to use at a later point), type up some notes on an archiving project, create lists of some genetics books waiting to be catalogued for the Human Genetics Historical Library project that the genetics professor wants, start revamping the cataloguing manual which is several years out of date now, catch up with staff development activities, finalise arrangements for a training session I’ve organised for next week, and several other bits of administration work.  That’s just me, my colleagues will have their own jobs, which for some also mean working on the institutional repository ORCA.

Eragny PressToday I also created a Pinterest account for the cataloguing department too.  Its going to feature the occasional pictures of us and our surroundings, there will be some library infographics that are fun, bookplates we find while cataloguing the rare books (in SCOLAR), private press printing devices, interesting book covers, fun things inspired by books – you get the picture!  Why not follow our boards.

 

Death and humans

DeathWhen you pick up a book and it has chapter headings such as “The edible dead”, “An unexpected vampire” and “A skeleton illuminated by lightning” you can pretty much surmise you are not going to be in for a dry reading experience.  The buried soul: how humans invented death by Timothy Taylor (who also wrote The Prehistory of sex) is a scholarly yet entertaining adventure through the archaeology of death and how we humans have regarded it and interacted with it throughout our time on earth.

“When did humankind become intelligent enough to formulate the idea of the soul? Tim Taylor’s search for an answer combine cutting-edge science, personal insight and scholarship, and spans the entire period from our prehistoric evolution to the present.  It is an extraordinary journey through vampirism, cannibalism, near-death experiences, modern-day human sacrifice and mummification.” note the publishers on the back cover.

With plenty of interesting stories and examples we learn how differently death has been, and is, regarded by different societies and individuals. Even just dipping your toe into this book will probably also make you think about your own attitude to death.

Taylor, Timothy (2002) The buried soul: how humans invented death. London: Harper Collins.
ISBN: 9780007291472
Classmark: GT3150.T2 (ASSL)