Career Profile: Music/Media Cataloger


Cate Gerhart

Title of current position:

Music/Media Cataloger

Current employer:

University of Washington Libraries

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

I catalog in all formats and languages, often using language specialists. I also supervise 6 staff in a “self-managing” environment. I participate in many committees both inside the library and in professional organizations. My main focus is music cataloging where I catalog scores, recording, online resources, and videos.

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

My undergraduate degree is in Music History and during my college life I worked in a music library. I loved helping the music cataloger and quickly decided it was my favorite thing to do. Since I’m a fairly outgoing person, I quickly took on managerial responsibilities and mentoring.

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

An undergraduate degree in music is very helpful for being a music cataloger. In addition, the main requirement is fearlessness. You must be willing to tackle whatever crosses your desk, whether it’s dirt, a skeleton, or a box of stuff.

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

My library education prepared me for most of my professional life. The fieldwork opportunities I took advantage of helped my daily work, but attending conferences such as OLAC (Online Audiovisual Catalogers) that focused on training helped immensely. Also, taking on training assignments myself helped me really learn the material.

What do you find rewarding in your career?

Working with many different kinds of people and materials.

What do you find challenging in your career?

Keeping up with change! Everything seems to change at the speed of light.

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 am active nationally in a number of organization as well as being on editorial boards.

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

Learn a language, network, be fearless.

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

Large numbers of catalogers are retiring in the next few years and there will be lots of jobs, especially since library schools don’t teach it much anymore so there aren’t many people going into it.

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

I am very active outside my job and have incorporated my job into many of my activities. As an amateur flutist I play in a number of groups (orchestra, band, ensembles) so I’ve naturally taken on the role of librarian in most of them. I also have my specific music research niche, double wind quintet music.

Is there any additional information you would like to provide?

You can be a cataloger even if you aren’t a introvert!

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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