Sompratana, Min, Erika and Jim pictured with the comic books their team sorted
February 10, 2017

Many hands make for light work – and when the job is sorting more than 21,000 comic books, you need a lot of hands.

Jim Clark, Head of the Database Management and Authority Control Unit, and Erika Quintana, Acquisitions Unit Supervisor were tagged as team leaders and charged with tackling the project of sorting 142 boxes, each containing approximately 150 comic books.

Jim explained, “We took all the boxes, looked at what we had, and tried to come up with how best to attack it.” He and Erika knew right away that they needed help, and all it took was the lure of free pizza to entice the rest of the team to join. Perhaps library employees are not so different from the students they serve, after all.

“It was a lot of fun,” Jim added. “Erika Quintana and I just organized all the boxes, gathered everybody, and we just went to town.” There were three big sorting ‘parties,’ during which Metadata Cataloger Sompratana Creighton and Asian Languages Cataloger Min Yu came on board as permanent team mates. Other floating team members included Acquisitions Assistants Sean Andress, Christy Brown Anderson, and Deborah Snow, Serials Assistant Andi Newman, Engineering Librarian Michele Potter, Head of Metadata & Technical Services Manuel Urrizola, Digital Assets Metadata Librarian Noah Geraci, Metadata Cataloger Julia Ree, as well as Associate University Librarians Diane Bisom and Alison Scott.

During the first phase of sorting, the team got through about one-third of the boxes when a surprise delivery arrived. “Special collections discovered a bunch more comics that they didn’t know we had, so those got merged into the project,” Manuel explained.

“If Erika and I had been the only ones doing it, we’d still be working on it,” Jim said. “But having that many people work on it, it saved us so much time. It really was a big help.” In whole, the sorting project lasted more than six months, even with several members of the team working on it daily.

“Not only could we work faster and more effectively, but we could also get to know each other more,” Sompratana commented. “When we worked together as a group, I got to know them really well and I liked that.”

Min agreed, “We worked mostly as a team and we had a happy time working together. We had fun and learned a lot.”

Most of the 21,000-plus comic books that the team organized will become part of the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy, adding a wide variety of new and different assets to the UCR Library’s extensive array of materials devoted to this field of scholarly research.

Some of the comics were given to the library by donors who asked for special attribution, so those were kept separate from the rest.

In addition, the team also had to sort out duplicates and process them separately from the comics that the library planned to retain in our collections. According to Min, there were approximately 40 boxes of duplicate issues culled from the collection.

“My favorite part was seeing everyone work together,” Jim stated. “They really got into it! It was really great teamwork.”

Now, the project is moving into its next phase: cataloging, which could take a year or more to complete. “We could use as many people as we can get,” Jim said. “If anyone is interested, if they would enjoy doing that, they should reach out to me or Erika to see how to get involved.”