On March 2, I officially took up my duties as the new Acquisitions and Cataloguing Officer at the library of the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN). I was eager to learn more about my new responsibilities and my new environment. I knew that being in charge of a collection of nature-themed scientific monographs and periodicals was sure to be a daunting yet highly gratifying challenge.

But that was only the tip of the iceberg! Hidden from view was an entire world of databases underpinning the library’s catalogues. Even though I was somewhat unfamiliar with this new world, I had to take a deep dive into it. One of my first projects involved repatriating the library’s data directly into the CMN’s computer system.

Large iceberg floating in the ocean.
Icebergs off the coast of Greenland during the summer of 2015. Image: Kieran Shepherd © Canadian Museum of Nature

A few years back, an agreement was signed authorizing the library to store its data on Heritage Canada’s servers. The creation of a “new” agency (Shared Services Canada) ended up changing the deal. The server on which our data was stored was slated for deactivation, so we ran the risk of losing our data if the migration project did not go ahead. I continued to explore various options, this time with the help of my allies, such as the Technology, Web and Finance Department and representatives of the library’s integrated system.

Meanwhile, I was still attached and totally dependent on my lifeline. With the assistance of the Library/Archives Director and the Head of Collections and Information Management Services, the project finally got off the ground. Rolling up their sleeves, my colleagues rallied to ensure a successful migration despite the tight deadline. Thanks to their collaborative effort, the data migration was finally completed in August 2020 via the very first cloud server managed right here at the CMN.

Image of a computer server’s electronic components. There are lots of coloured wires and green lights inside a metallic cage.
Computer server. Image: Taylor Vick © Unsplash.com

The CMN’s library had to undertake this migration in order to be able continue its good work. Without this data, the library’s catalogue would become completely outdated and the physical collection would be lost. In addition, the migration is a crucial step in the delivery of a major future project, namely synchronizing the library’s catalogue with an internationally famous database: the Online Computer Library Center’s WorldCat. This synchronization will make our wide-ranging specialized collection even more accessible to users, libraries and Internet users worldwide, particularly via interlibrary loans.

Red heart made up of binary numbers
Red heart made up of binary numbers. Image: Alexander Sinn © Unsplash.com

As regards my deep dive into this new world, I am most proud of the fact that managing pieces of data—these tiny virtual units—fits in perfectly with the mission of furthering research as part of a natural and sustainable future. This data is necessary so scientists, students and nature lovers can keep on consulting the catalogue and uncovering sources that will end up enhancing their knowledge and writings. I also hope that future generations will be inspired to understand and respect nature.