Ann Kardos (Massachusetts)

There’s Always More Coming Down the Track


Designed and stitched by Ann Kardos

“Metadata is production work. We add items into the library catalog, both individually and in large batches. Since libraries are regularly purchasing something, this is on-going work. Other things we do include handling records for materials moving from one part of the library into another or into off-site storage. We constantly fix input and encoding errors in records already in the catalog. We help troubleshoot problems with items in the stacks. I could go on, but I won’t. The work never ends and has rare periods of slowness throughout the year.

Unfortunately, the constant train of work coming down the track is being done by an ever decreasing number of library workers. The skills, technology and software needed to do a lot of our work is rapidly changing, and there is a misunderstanding that much of it can be done at the push of a button. All the while, our colleagues throughout the library may continue to purchase materials, provide outreach to patron populations, liaise with donors and more, which adds to the steady stream of work. Metadata is the engine that powers the library catalog. But without enough workers to provide the metadata, how can the engine stay on the track? How can we continue to offer high-quality library services with small, exhausted metadata departments?”


Ann Kardos is a metadata librarian at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The embroidery shows the outline of a steam engine along the bottom of the hoop with steam coming out of the stack. There is a blue and cream plume of steam. The word “Exhausted” is in the middle of the steam stitched in cursive in blue floss.


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Unseen Labor by Ann Kardos is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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