Career Profile: Cataloging & Metadata Librarian


Sarah Espinosa

Title of current position:

Cataloging and Metadata Librarian

Current employer:

Loyola Notre Dame Library

Please provide a brief description of your job including a general overview of your responsibilities.

I manage the Cataloging and Metadata unit, including staff, interns, and students, by organizing projects and documenting policies and procedures. I work with special collections, print monographs and serials, and e-book sets.

How did you choose your specialty (i.e. music cataloger, metadata specialist, technical service manager, etc.)?

I do not see myself as a specialist. I tend to be very goal-oriented, so rather than specializing in a single topic, I work with my colleagues to obtain specialized knowledge that will help my staff and I achieve our unit goals.

What specific skills, aptitudes, training, or education does your specialty require?

I’ve had to self-educate, so I would say my role requires motivation, the ability to utilize free online as well as people resources, and the ability to navigate many technologies. My role also requires the ability to communicate with and understand the needs of staff, students, and interns. Perhaps most importantly, my role requires some marketing of the unit’s potential to the other librarians in my institution so they understand how we can support their initiatives and help them better serve the library’s patrons.

In what ways did your formal education prepare you for your career? What did you need to learn outside of this?

My formal education gave me a glimpse of what I would be doing as a Cataloging and Metadata Librarian. The most helpful classes were in database maintenance and JavaScript. I would have liked to take more programming classes. Otherwise, the LibraryJuice courses were useful, as are journals like Code4Lib and communities like mashcat or the Troublesome Catalogers and Magical Metadata Fairies Facebook group, and I stalk the ALCTS webinar archive since that provides a lot of free online knowledge. I also watch a lot of software-specific YouTube tutorials.

What do you find rewarding in your career?

I like that I am enabling patrons to search for and identify resources that will support their research.

What do you find challenging in your career?

I find working with others challenging but a good learning experience. I am also challenged—and excited—by the fast-paced nature of my work (mostly the unit management side but sometimes the cataloging) and the ambiguous state of the future.

How do you keep up with trends in the field (i.e. involvement in professional organizations, email lists, publishing and research, professional reading, etc.)?

Journal articles, conferences, email lists, professional groups including ALCTS.

What advice do you have for those considering a career in your specialty?

Take advantage of as many opportunities to learn as possible. You never know what knowledge will improve the work of the library and the patron experience.

What do you see as the career outlook in your field (i.e. job prospects, changes in responsibilities, etc.)?

I see cataloging and metadata incorporating special collections description, bulk data management, and collection maintenance. It requires knowledge of detailed cataloging and metadata standards and rules, as well as big-picture environmental awareness to know how the metadata works within your institution as well as externally.

How do you strive for a work-life balance? Do you have any hobbies or interests outside work?

I’m a mom, so work-life balance is necessary. I almost always leave work at work so I can focus on my family and myself at home.

This career profile is one of 14 developed by the Cataloging & Metadata Management Section (CaMMS) Recruitment & Mentoring Committee in 2017. To view a list of all profiles, see Career Profiles in Cataloging, Metadata, & Related Fields.

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