Ave atque vale, Zach!

By David Ratzan

Zach Rosalinsky Zach Rosalinsky Thursday, March 9, marked my last day as a library clerk at ISAW, as I was recently awarded the Leon Levy Fellowship in manuscript cataloging at the Morgan Library & Museum. It is a bittersweet farewell, as I enjoyed my time at ISAW and I will miss both the work and the people.

After graduating with a degree in music performance from NYU, I enrolled as a dual-degree student in the NYU-LIU program, in my case, a MLIS from the Palmer Library School at LIU and an MA in Classics from NYU. The ISAW Library therefore combined my two interests and was the perfect place for me to work while in graduate school!

As a library clerk, my primary duties were shelving, labeling, processing loans and returns, fulfilling scan requests, and the other small tasks that keep a library running smoothly. Coming out of library school with quite limited practical experience, this was a perfect portfolio of tasks to get me comfortable with how a library runs, especially all the behind-the-scenes work necessary to keep things flowing, and the various tools and software we use. But it was the extra projects that really made this a unique place to work in the NYU Division of Libraries.

One requirement of my library school program was that I complete an internship. I worked with David Ratzan and Gabriel Mckee to design an internship in ancient geographic data cataloging -- what could be more "ISAW Library" than that? For this internship, I researched a large list of geographic subject headings (essentially, place names) for ancient sites that were represented in books in ISAW's collection but lacked data linking the book to the geographic site. I then created OpenStreetMap locations where appropriate and, for each individual location, either linked to an existing record or created an original Pleiades or Wikidata entry representing that site. At present, I have authored or edited 499 records in Pleiades!

Given my background in library science, I was also given some tasks that were less typical of a student worker. Chief among these for me was cataloging. At first, this began as copying existing book records into Bobcat, which Gabriel would edit and bring up to his high standards after I had done my part in finding them. I found I enjoyed this work, much more than I expected: in library school I had avoided cataloging courses, as I was intimidated by the process and did not think cataloging would be for me. Having discovered that I do, in fact, enjoy cataloging, I asked Gabriel help me dive a bit deeper into complicated cataloging, and he was happy to offer his extensive experience as a cataloger.

Slowly but surely, Gabriel helped me wade into the deeper waters of we call "original cataloging." I kept learning and gaining experience until, for the past several months, the majority of the cataloging at ISAW that did not involve Arabic or Chinese metadata was done by me, with Gabriel offering assistance and guidance as I needed it.

I am grateful for having had the opportunity to work at ISAW and for the support of the entire ISAW Library team throughout my graduate career. Going into this job, I was more or less a novice in the library world and I knew almost nothing about cataloging. I leave this position in a good position to work in libraries in the future and with a new and exciting focus for my career in cataloging, and I owe that largely to the support and experience I gained here.