Saturday, November 18, 2006

Finally, Blogger!

I tried to get onto Blogger all day yesterday and it was doing something very odd.

I am going to be a huge library dork and talk all about the OCLC tour I went on yesterday. Someone from Kent State arranged to have a tour there. They had to drive down to Kent and I didn't because I live near Dublin. I've also taken a class at OCLC with the woman who gave the tour (I heart Nancy because I am basically her mini me.) We never got to have a tour there during class because it was held in the evenings when most of the people have already gone home.

Anyway, Nancy gave a brief talk about the history of OCLC and a little bit of what they do there. Then we went on the tour. We got to see the usability lab and talked to the man who runs it. One of my papers this month was about website usability so I definitely knew what he was talking about. The amount of cameras in that room was amazing.

Then we got to see where they manage/observe the 200+ servers. In a way, it kind of reminded me of a NASA control room, lots of monitors and projected images. If there is ever a problem with one of the servers no matter where it is located, they know about it in a couple of seconds and track down what is the problem. The people who work there work in 12 hour shifts (!) and the room is staffed 24/7, 365 days/year.

We took a tour of the OCLC library. (Talk about a special library.) They had a lot of periodicals and books available to the staff. The library is open round the clock, too, but it is not staffed around the clock. Any of the staff members can pick a book of the shelves and check it out themselves. They don't have any due dates because they figure it is easier to purchase a replacement.

The one building on the campus was built around the original hulking computer systems. It used to occupy 3 floors of the building. With the new technologies, they need a whole lot less space for the computers so now they rent out the space to other people. We were able to go to an observation room and look at the OCLC computers. It was kind of freaky all of the white space, computers and no one around.

We got to see where they print the catalog cards (yes, some libraries still use catalog cards). I think the noise of the ribbon printers would have driven me crazy very quickly if I worked there.

**Lunch Break** :)

We went to one of the other buildings and got to see where they do cataloging. The number of languages they can catalog in is staggering. They have specifically hired people with cataloging experience and who speak at least one other language. We met one of the Russian specialists.

Then we saw the foreign language collection. If a library discovers they have a need of a foreign language collection, they can call OCLC and will be sent a ready-made collection. All of the cataloging is already done and there are a variety of books in the collection. Amazing!

It was funny that, in all of the public areas, the grounds, and (most) work areas, the architecture and interior design was very nice. The hallways, however, made you think of an underground bunker. No joke. Kind of narrow, few doors, no windows and painted a beige-ish color. The places where the public can go (which isn't far without an escort) are simply amazing. The courtyard of the Kilgour Building is an atrium with a grove of live trees in it and plants all around the walls. They had white Christmas lights all around the tree trunks. Very pretty. It kind of reminded me of the Seattle Public Library plant beds which are inside the building.

It was a fun day all in all.

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