Collections Services was pleased to welcome Zhuo Pan (潘倬, Pān Zhuō) on August 14, 2023 as Resident Librarian for Resource Description. It has been a busy and engaging three months for Zhuo and the Resource Description Department and we are glad Zhuo was here to share them with us. Zhuo received his Master of Library and Information Science at the University of Washington earlier this year, where he also served as a Library Data Specialist in the UW Libraries. Zhuo received his Bachelor of Library Science from Wuhan University. Though new to Duke in Durham, Zhuo is returning to the wider Duke University community. He worked at Duke Kunshan University Library, both as an intern and as Library Assistant for Technical Services. In his current position, Zhuo forms one-half of the inaugural cohort of DUL’s Residency Program, which seeks to enable recent graduates of an MLIS or related graduate program to gain experience in a highly specialized area of librarianship.
In his position as Resident Librarian, Zhuo describes materials to make discovery possible through the Duke University Libraries Catalog. His work also contributes new and improved records to WorldCat, which is a catalog of library resources from all parts of the world. Because catalogers must learn to use subject knowledge across a variety of disciplines and to apply complex international standards when creating catalog entries, gaining expertise is a long-term process and hinges on training and mentoring. Zhuo brings to his current position experience both with hands-on cataloging at Duke Kunshan University Library, as well as experience with the international set of elements and guidelines for creating metadata for library resources from his position at UW libraries. It has been gratifying to build on Zhuo’s knowledge and experience by working to describe books awaiting description. During his first three months, Zhuo acquainted himself with internal workflows, policies, and the tools and documentation that support these. He also spent significant time assessing and categorizing materials in the Chinese language cataloging queue. This facilitated a training strategy focused on specific types of description, starting with literature, then transitioning to comics and graphic novels, and moving onto local history. For a snapshot of Chinese language books cataloged in the last 3 months, check the catalog. Zhuo provided description for over half of new titles added during this period. The Monograph Acquisitions department, where books with records that are complete in WorldCat at the time of receipt are processed, provided description for the remaining portion.
Most recently, Zhuo has worked on books about art and photography. This is an especially complicated area of description with many special requirements for noting creators and subjects associated with artistic works. In addition, art and photography books often reflect their discipline, meaning they get artsy with how the physical book is presented. This adds an extra layer of challenge to describing the physical resource. Zhuo has come across books that are portfolios with loose plates of images, books with pages that fold out to create larger-format reproductions of photos, and even a book that is sealed in its entirety and needs to be carefully cut open before he can describe it. Following are some photos of recent art books that Zhuo has encountered. I particularly enjoyed working on the book that included parallel texts in Chinese and Russian languages with Zhuo since we each got to use our particular linguistic strengths to describe it. This partnership is just one example of the myriad ways that original catalogers constantly work together to use combined expertise in resource description. Here is looking forward to many years of working with Zhuo to provide timely and inclusive description of library collections.