I am writing this post to mark some exciting news: Courtney and I have undertaken a brand new volunteer project! Drumroll, please…
We will be evaluating and organizing materials found within Bloomington’s Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center library!
When I first met Courtney, she mentioned the fact that she was hoping to volunteer to help organize the library and she generously invited me to work with her. She had found out about the library when she went to TMBCC over the summer to buy tea. I was familiar with the Center because my boyfriend is a Buddhist and often goes to meditation sessions there, and I obviously jumped at the opportunity. Courtney and I will get hands-on experience dealing with the challenges of evaluating and organizing an accumulation of multilingual materials, and those using the TMBCC library will hopefully be able to access said materials in a much more effective way–wonderfully beneficial both ways!
Two weeks ago we went to meet with our contact at the TMBCC to get an overview of what we would be undertaking. After the initial meeting, I did a bit of freewriting/brainstorming about possible goals and foreseeable issues.
- Create print listing of all TMBCC library items
- Create booklet of policies for use of materials
- Start a visitor sign-in sheet to determine what library materials are being accessed
- Organize materials meaningfully, leaving an explanation so that the library can grow without becoming disorganized
- Put germane library info. on a basic library webpage (this is a maybe)
- We need to keep the books on the shelves during our evaluation and organizational processes–the room is used often for events, so books cannot be placed elsewhere, even temporarily.
- How will we organize the extremely varied materials? We have to figure out a classification schema that will work for our unique library.
- Multilingual resources will require us to branch out and seek specialists to assist us.
- The shelves are super tall and we are relatively short gals! We need a serious ladder.
- During the cataloging process, we realized how unfamiliar we are with Buddhist titles like Rinpoche, Geshe, etc. How should materials by different individuals with these titles be cataloged–by last name, first name? Luckily there is a Tibetan Studies librarian at IU; I’m hoping she’ll be able to shed some light on this for us.
- I’ve been told that according to Buddhist tradition, people are not supposed to be physically higher than representations of the Buddha. There’s a Buddha shrine-like area in the Cultural Center that we will definitely have to be higher than in order to reach the tall shelves. (C and I definitely want to respect the space that we are in to the utmost degree, and I’m always a bit petrified that I’ll unknowingly commit a faux-pas and offend someone. Luckily, in my experience Buddhists are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met and also quite practical, which I adore!)
Other issues will come up every day we work on the collection, I’m sure, and goals beyond what are listed so far will be dependent upon how the Center wants the library to be used. As of right now it operates on an honor system; materials are not supposed to be removed from the room, but those at the Center have no way of knowing if they are. Over the next few weeks C and I are hoping to get a better idea of those at the Center want the library to be used when we are finished.
With all of this in mind, this past Monday we went in with the intention of getting our hands dirty (figuratively, of course). I am planning to document our actions each week as we dive in, make mistakes, and start to shape this library collection in a meaningful way. Being the avid picture-taker that I am, there’s no way I could avoid the urge to document our first week.