Hello! My name is Alaina Economus, and I am the Slavic Language Resource Description Intern in the Resource Description Department.
I came to Duke University Libraries in August of 2022, three months after graduating from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and simultaneous to beginning my MSLS at UNC-Chapel Hill. I majored in History and Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies as an undergraduate, and thought this position would be the perfect combination of my Russian language skills and my passion for library and information science. I interviewed for the internship in my dorm room at Smith (College) and thought how serendipitous it would be to begin a new chapter of my life also at Smith (Warehouse)!
When I first arrived at Duke, we had a significant backlog of Slavic language monographs that had been sent to us for original cataloging. Most of the items had not been looked over following their referral. With direction from my supervisors, Jessica Janecki and Natalie Sommerville, I spent the first couple of months looking up every item in OCLC Connexion and sorting them into different categories based on the language of the text and their “problem”; some had no record in OCLC, others had no call number assigned, and others had records with poor copy. Throughout this process, I was able to send many items to circulation, which cleared up a lot of much-needed space.
Now that the backlog has been sorted, I spend much of my time cataloging books from each specific category. This past spring, I decided to focus on Ukrainian-language materials with poor copy or no call number . It felt like something small I could do to support the promotion and accessibility of Ukrainian language and culture. I really value working with these materials, and hope that I am doing them justice.
This experience inspired me to conduct a collections analysis of the Ukrainian-language collection at Duke with Dr. Ernest (Erik) Zitser, Librarian for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies. While it was originally just for a field experience course for my degree, I’ve been able to present the analysis at the TRLN Annual Meeting this past summer, and I’ll be presenting the full analysis at the Ukrainian Studies Conference this month. It has been such an enriching experience to work with these materials both for this project and for my work at Smith Warehouse.
Growing my cataloging skills has been one of the best parts of my experience in Resource Description. A year ago, I knew almost nothing about call numbers, subject analysis, or authority records. Now, I spend most of my time determining if the monographs I work with have accurate description that will make them accessible to patrons. It’s a big responsibility, but I love it! I am hoping to pursue a career in cataloging once I have completed my MSLS degree.
When not at work or in class, I enjoy reading, cross-stitching, traveling, and spending time with my friends, my partner Abbie, and my cat Simon (pictured).