On why my brain hurts

Well, I must confess today I haven’t read anything that wasn’t a tweet or facebook or something to do with work. I haven’t looked at any of the other library blogs, I haven’t opened google reader, I haven’t glanced at a newspaper.

All but one of the maps I catalogued today required quite a lot of research to narrow down to some sort of date range and it was really exhausting. With books you can put in a century or decade certain, or probable, but with maps they want you to be as specific as you can. This means finding any information you can on the map and then trawling through information to find correlations. This is where Trove is a lifesaver. Newspaper articles, digitised maps, sales plans, auction listings … a road, a name mentioned in passing… a court case… Also the State Records Archives Investigator the Dictionary of Sydney and a number of more specific sites depending on what type of map I have.

Sometimes there is just no clue. I was returning a map today that I’d catalogued awhile ago. You can view the record here, but while I’ve said it’s in Port Albert the only way I “know” this is because I am 99.9% sure I had the shelf-list card for that map. The only details on the map itself was the outline of a portion of land and the phrase “Scite for township”. No location, no date, no surveyor, no scale, nothing. I had that map for a long time before I catalogued it. I even sent it to our Original Materials Branch, to the Maps team, but no luck. It was really only when I had gone through the rest of this batch of shelf-list cards and there weren’t many maps left that I matched what little information there was and decided it was most likely that the card referred to this map.

When I have worked out where my map is, what it is, when it is from (and so on) I have to assign subject headings. Library of Congress Subject Headings. To fit my predominantly early Australian manuscript maps. With American spellings. Which, while it makes sense for keeping everything together, offends my sensibilities.

So you see some of the difficulties that fill my days.

Sometimes when I have spent my day searching for dates, locations, names, landowners, sheep stations, whatever, the last thing I want to do when I get home is use my brain.

Ah, who knew cataloguers did so much think and research? Well, there you go.


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