Career Profile: Metadata Librarian (ProQuest)


Katelyn Borbely

Title of current position:

Metadata Librarian

Current employer:


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

I was originally hired on as a rare books cataloger for our Early English Books and Early European Books product (my expertise is in rare book cataloging). Due to company need and changes over time, I also catalog for our Canadian government documents product, Microlog. I have also cataloged tech e-books and the Opie collection’s (children’s books) more complicated languages (Japanese, Russian).

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

I had the opportunity to work for a museum library while in school, where one of my primary duties was cataloging and I found I really enjoyed it. This internship gave me exposure to rare books and I decided that I would pursue a career in that field.

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

For rare book cataloging, you have to have knowledge of the standards, rules and best practices for describing special collections materials. In addition, it’s crucial to have an understanding of the historical context, some understanding of book history and the history of book production, as well as languages.

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 an introduction to cataloging and metadata standards, but I really feel I learned cataloging through internships and my daily work in my current position. Anything related to rare book cataloging I had to pursue on my own and through continuing education experiences like Rare Book School.

What do you find rewarding in your career?

I find it rewarding to get to work with these fabulous collections from around the world and in turn make them available to researchers who might not have the means to visit these libraries themselves.

What do you find challenging in your career?

I am not a technophobe by any means, but in my current job at least, I have to rapidly learn new technologies I might not have considered important at the time in school. For instance, there has been a greater emphasis put on coding skills at my job. So I’m trying to learn Python and other programming languages to keep up.

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

I follow several email lists related to cataloging and rare book cataloging. I try to attend at least one conference a year and several webinars. I also serve on a committee for the Rare Books and Manuscript Section of ACRL (the Association of College & Research Libraries).

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

My best advice would be to get involved as a student in organizations and attend conferences. I would also highly recommend taking on an internship or even volunteering a few hours a week to get experience.

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

At least from my perspective working for a vendor, my responsibilities have shifted dramatically. I no longer simply make MARC records; I also do data analysis for product managers for the products I catalog for. I’m learning the more technical side of content operations and taking on new tasks. I feel like in any job, priorities shift over time so you have to be open to change.

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

I enjoy a good read and crafts like any other librarian! I do really have a deep love for rare books, so once a month I catalog rare books at Research Library of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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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