Work in the Time of Corona: Kate McCallister, Catalog and Metadata Librarian

By Kathleen McCallister - Cataloging & Metadata Librarian


Our library staff members are chronicling their experiences living through a pandemic. If you keep a daily journal of your experience, consider donating it to Swem’s Special Collections when the crisis has passed.

Name: Kate McCallister

Title: Catalog and Metadata Librarian

Department: Content Services, William & Mary Libraries

How has your work changed during the pandemic? 

vintage photograph of students sitting around tables in Swem LibraryIn Swem my job was heavily focused on cataloging work for physical items (mostly books, but also DVDs and maps and ‘give that weird thing to Kate, she’ll do it’ items), with various catalog clean-up projects and creating descriptive metadata for digitized materials on a fluctuating and as-needed basis. Now those clean-up tasks and metadata work have become my daily routine. My largest current task is providing metadata for the recently digitized University Archives Photo Collection. It’s quite a fun collection to work on as there’s all kinds of interesting views of the W&M campus and its people and buildings throughout the 20th century. Aerial photographs of the campus from the 1920s! Students in the old library in the 1940s reading newspapers for the latest on the war! 

What are your challenges? 

The malleability of an at-home schedule means I sometimes find it tough to stop working. Even when I’ve put in my hours, I’ll have a nagging feeling that I haven’t done enough and will find myself working through lunch or coming back to my laptop after the end of the day to finish just a one or two more things. Thankfully my feline coworker is assisting me in being mindful of break and quitting times. She does this through the highly effective method of plonking herself down on my mouse—or my hand—when she feels it’s time for me to do something else. A grey and brown cat perched on a computer mouse

What has surprised you? 

I’m feeling the loss of a daily transition time from work to home a lot more than I thought I would! Turns out the experience of driving in to work and coming into the building and saying ‘hi’ to everyone has a much stronger effect on the brain than I thought it did.

What do you miss most about being in the library? 

I really miss my colleagues, both from my department and from the wider library. Everyone’s doing a great job by keeping camaraderie up with Zoom meetings and Microsoft Team channels and so on, but it’s hard to have the kind of general chit-chat you can have in a physical space via a text box or laptop microphone.

Anything else you’d like to share: Be extra-kind to people right now, especially yourself!