Work in the Time of Corona: Libby McDaniel, Head of Cataloging & Metadata

By Libby McDaniel - Head of Cataloging & Metadata


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: Libby McDaniel

Title: Head of Cataloging & Metadata

Department: Cataloging & Metadata

How has your work changed during the pandemic? 

I’m the Head of Cataloging & Metadata. I work with a wonderful team of people in Content Services to make sure that all of the library’s resources are represented in the library catalog so that everyone knows what we have and where to find it. When Swem is open, my department handles a lot of physical materials: new books and DVDs, rare books for Swem’s Special Collections Research Center, journals, magazines and newspapers. Now that we’re working from home, we’re focusing on online resources because those are the most important to our patrons right now. 

What are your challenges? 

Work/life balance is hard when your office is your living room. Did I mention that my spouse is still working and kids are out of school? We are figuring it out as we go. My second grader and I try to have recess twice daily, and he loves Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems. After each episode, he spends a few hours drawing and writing his own Elephant, Piggie, and Pigeon books. 

Picture of a 2nd grade boy with blond hair filling out a worksheet in a W&M shirt

When I first learned that we’d be working from home, I started to think about all the things that I never quite find time to do in a normal day. I think most of us keep a running list of books we want to read, archived webinars we want to watch, and skills we want to learn when we have time. I’m trying to schedule time every day for normal work, professional development, and connecting with colleagues, friends, and family. I use my calendar to keep myself on track. I find myself working at odd hours, too. I especially like the quiet before everyone else wakes up – both at my house and on Teams. 

What has surprised you? 

I hate working in my pajamas! And I don’t like drinking coffee as much as I like taking a walk to get a coffee. The walk from the living room to the kitchen isn’t as pretty or restorative as the walk from Swem to Illy Caffé. 

What do you miss most about being in the library? 

I miss the people. My colleagues are smart, fun, funny people. I’ve tried to get my new colleagues, Emmet (cat) and Sally (dog) to help with some cataloging projects, but all they can manage is announcing the arrival of the mail and eating the free snacks in the break room. 

Black cat in an open doorway brown dog on grey dog bed