Indexing crisis averted (twice)

This week the real work began on my indexing project for subject analysis. We got our project statements back, and I set about collecting the rest of the books and articles that I hadn’t tracked down before. I still need to do more digging in the databases, but as I am a poor reference librarian that will wait until I am feeling more energetic.

Crisis the first occurred early in the week, shortly after we got our project statements back. I realized that our interim report, in which we must show “substantial progress,” is due fairly soon. As in on March 22. I had absolutely zero idea as to how to get going on this, and was feeling overwhelmed. Rather than stress about this I dropped by to see Candy, who gave me some pointers on strategy and I felt much, much better. That night I started on the first step, which was to go through the issues of The Bulletin and pull out citations for all of the articles that I’ll index. Since copying citations onto index cards is not what one might consider mentally taxing, I did this while watching some episodes of what is apparently my favorite genre of TV show: CSI and NCIS.

I completed this task on Wednesday and Thursday night. Having purchased a pack of 500 index cards at Staples, I was a bit annoyed to find that I used less than 100 of them for this task. Annoyance almost immediately turned into panic when I realized that less than 100 (56, actually) is rather significantly short of the 100-200 articles that Candy likes to see indexed for this sort of project. <Insert expletives here.> Luckily I already had to go to campus on Friday, so I knew I would be able to talk to Candy and sort this out.

Candy was initially just as concerned as I was, but we talked through what I would be doing and decided that I would make a slightly more complicated database for the project (one including the “SEE” and “SEE ALSO” references, which is apparently rather difficult to actually do effectively) and that I would do the data entry of the previously indexed issues as part of what I hand in to her (as opposed to doing this in late May/early June, after she grades it and before I pass it along to the Congregational Library). That data entry will actually involve doing some evaluation of how the previous index was created, as well as updating any subject headings that have been changed by LC (since it looks like LCSH was used initially, though I do need to do some checking to try and verify this).

“But Alison,” you are probably thinking, “if you had to write up a project statement, shouldn’t you have known ahead of time that you wouldn’t have had enough things?” To that I answer that yes, I would have caught this problem much earlier had I been more thorough in my exploration of the issues of this publication. I leafed through a couple from the top of the stack, and figured I would be ok. Little did I know that the majority of these issues feature only a single essay, and then a bunch of book reviews (which will not be indexed). Whoops.

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