Interview with Karla Webb, Library Curator

Mary Jane came up with the great idea to interview Karla, the Furniture Library Curator, to get her take on the beginning of the process.  We came up with a few questions dealing with the history of the Furniture Library itself, as well as her initial ideas about the whole cataloging process.  Following is a brief synopsis of the interview. Enjoy!

What is exactly does the position of Curator entail?

Karla Webb, Curator of the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library

The Curator handles all daily library and bookstore operations, helps customers and researchers locate information, takes care of all accounting and finance, manages furniture market booths, and is in charge of the organization’s scholarship program.

A little background on the library:

The Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library is part of a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of furniture education.  It was founded in 1970 by Sandy Bienenstock, owner of Furniture World Magazine, with books from his personal collection.  Intended to serve as a research library for the furniture industry, the library contains books dealing with a wide range of furniture-related topics, such as: interior design, architecture, textiles, construction, finishing/refinishing, and of course, furniture.

What is the customer base of the library?

Most of those utilizing the library’s collection are from the furniture industry.  However, the library also serves: interior designers, furniture designers, students, scholars, and members of the general public looking for information about particular pieces of furniture that they own or are looking to purchase.

Why catalog the collection?

It is important to Karla and to the operations of the Furniture Library that customers are served as effectively and efficiently as possible.  With an online catalog, books will be easily and quickly located, and Karla will gain a more complete knowledge of the collection.  Once she knows what they have in their collection, it will be easier for her to know what they need to acquire in order to complete/improve the collection.

Weeding process:

Before beginning the cataloging project, Karla weeded the collection of any duplicate copies in order to create more space, as well as to get the collection in a sort of working order for the beginning of the cataloging project.  She has plans to sell some of the copies of the rare and out-of-print editions to raise money for the library.

Why contact Mary Jane and UNC Greensboro for assistance with the project?

The Furniture Library was already involved with the UNCG’s interior design department through the scholarship program and  Mary Jane is in charge of cataloging for the Interior Architecture Library, located on the UNCG campus.  Plus, UNCG also has a Masters of Library and Information Studies program, so Karla thought it would be a perfect fit!

What did you learn from the initial visit by Mary Jane and Dr. Nora Bird (professor in the MLIS department)?

Karla says that through the first consultation with Dr. Bird and Mary Jane she came to realize the scope of the project.  It was a larger undertaking than she at first imagined and she realized the need for professional guidance in the cataloging process.


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