20 February 2009

Eastern Migration: NYU Tech Services Moves Out of Bobst

Shelved @ NYC welcomes guest blogger Sommer Browning, a recently festooned library school graduate with the inside scoop on NYU's crosstown maneuver.

Last Thursday, well for the last week -- and for the supervisors, the last many months -- the entire Technical Services Department at NYU moved from Bobst Library to the third floor of 20 Cooper Square. By Tuesday afternoon we were actually cataloging books. Somehow, thousands of books, decades of invoices, dozens of book trucks, computers, office chairs, file cabinets, hundreds of feet of shelving and to my chagrin, six large boxes of unearthed microfilm that I will have to catalog, moved four blocks away to our new office. My name is Sommer Browning. I'm a copy cataloger, cataloging everything from serials to microfilm, and I've been at NYU for nearly four years.

We moved because NYU wanted our basement library space for classrooms and many of us were pretty unhappy down there in bowels of Bobst. It was wonderful to be in the library, to head upstairs to check call numbers or talk to the Government Documents librarian about a weird serial, but now we have windows! And fresh air and a clean office and a pleasant break room. It's only been a week so please realize that I'm still reeling from my new intake of natural light. The next time I'm sweating over the intricacies of cataloging a multi-volume that has become a serial with monthly supplements and we have three monograph records for it in Bobcat with three different call numbers and I walk over to Bobst to sort it all out and have forgotten the peculiar details of what I was doing, ask me how much I care that I can watch plastic bags blowing around the streets of New York City from my cubicle. But until then, me and my quickly reviving Swedish Ivy are quite pleased.

The square footage is nearly identical to our old digs, except we have lost some shelving space because of the one long wall of windows. But we can't get too used to the space, it's temporary. We are supposedly moving again, to an undisclosed location, in two years. When that happens, I hope we will have the great direction and organization we had for this move. Our acting department director, Meg Manahan, and our acting head of cataloging, Elizabeth Lilker, did an amazing job keeping us happy and focused while we bumbled around with boxes and tons of discombobulated office supplies and asked questions about how our plants would survive. Actually, yesterday, we found out that one of the two shipments of our plants tipped over and was destroyed. But seriously, for us underlings, besides some initial disgruntlement about our new seating chart, which seems for the most part to be fixed, a box of mangled plants has been the worst of it. We are very lucky that, besides Meg and Elizabeth, we had very capable supervisors planning this move. I can't imagine the hard work and long hours that went into it. I don't want to, frankly, especially since just a few months ago we made an ILS switch, from Advance to Aleph. To move a department of 50 or so people, after teaching us all a pretty complicated new system is Herculean--and a lot to ask of your TSD on top of our regular work. We also catalog books for at least four other consortium libraries. But as we unpack and get used to where the pencil sharpeners are, we all seem to be excited about our new space. Maybe it's just because I now sit by the entrance to the lounge, but I've noticed everyone saying "good morning" a lot more and asking where we can go to get a good cup of coffee in our new neighborhood.

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