Hello! My name is Heidi Greathouse and…I’m a cataloger!
by Heidi Greathouse, Senior Assistant, INALJ New Mexico
You may be thinking, “cataloging is a dying field!…or “there are still catalogers?” My reply “Yes, there are catalogers and they are more essential than ever!” I am not going to tell you why cataloging is important in the library, because should already know about its role. I am going to tell you briefly of how I found my job as a cataloger and my experiences beforehand that helped me prepare for this job. I hope that this will give hope to those who are looking for jobs and how important and meaningful your experiences can be before you find your ideal job.
My official title is Public Services Librarian (Catalog) at Eastern New Mexico University. I accepted this position in early March of last year. I graduated with my Master of Arts in Information Resources and Library Science at the University of Arizona in 2012, which meant that it took me 2 years to find a library job that requires a Master’s degree!
After I graduated from grad school, I looked for jobs all over the place! I even applied for places that were in the East Coast, which was thousands of miles away from my home in Utah! (you have to go where the jobs are, right?)
In the meantime, I was living at home and took out a job as a mail sorter. I had to make sure that the mail that came out of the machine was going to the correct tray. This helped me focus on developing the skills of being detailed oriented, which is a must-have skill to be a cataloger! I was in that job for about 10 months before I accepted a position as a library assistant in a university that was about 2 hours away from my immediate family. In that position, I developed more skills of being detail-oriented and started to care a lot about the library collection. I was able to pick out when a book didn’t look like it belonged in a certain section. I even had the privilege of processing books and putting labels on them.
After being with that job for several months, I decided to look for more work. I really wanted a job that required a Master’s degree. I applied for many different types of library jobs and one of my co-workers at the time told me that I would do well as a cataloger. I never took much thought to it before, but I decided to start looking for jobs in that area. That was when I found my current position.
In the job description it mentioned that it wanted someone with at least 2 years of cataloging experience. I never took any cataloging classes and the only experiences I had with the library catalog was adding items or checking them in or out. However, I think the skills that I have developed over the years helped me prepare for my current job.
Much of my learning as a cataloger has come through on-the-job experience. I have experienced a tremendous learning curve. I have learned to catalog in two library integrated systems even and learn how to catalog in AACR2. In addition, I have more experience in reference and collection development now because I am also involved with these duties as well.
If you are currently looking for a library job, never give up! Realize that your experiences now will help you prepare you for something better in the future! Prepare to be surprised and be open-minded in the process. While I was in college, I never thought that I would be a cataloger, but I have come to realize that it is the best job for me right now. In this last year, I have come to learn more about myself and what I can do. Looking back, the experiences I had were all in preparation for now. You may be in a preparation period right now, but always remember that good can come of your situation right now if you just let it. Your dream job may be just around the corner!
About the Author
Heidi Greathouse is currently the Senior Assistant for the New Mexico INALJ page. She currently works as a cataloger at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. It is a smaller town of 17,000 or so. She grew up in parts of California and Utah so being in New Mexico is a change for her. She moved to Portales in March 2014 and is learning a lot. In her free time, she likes to watch movies, read, and hang out with friends and family. She did her undergrad at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho in history with a minor in humanities. She graduated there in 2008. In 2012, she graduated with my MA in Information Resources and Library Science at the University of Arizona. She is really enjoying being in the library field and hopes to help others in their pursuit of this field.