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Virginia Sinclair to retire from CDL

It is both a privilege and a bittersweet duty to announce the retirement of one of CDL’s longest-serving employees, Virginia Sinclair. Virginia’s last working day at CDL will be March 11, 2016. It is difficult if not impossible to sum up Virginia’s achievements over 26 years of dedicated service at UC, CDL and the broader digital library community.

Virginia’s UC career started in 1988, working at DLA (the Division of Library Automation, CDL’s predecessor organization). She worked on the original home-grown Melvyl Union Catalog, doing production batch loading of catalog records from the campuses. A union catalog of the size and scope of that original Melvyl was truly “cutting edge” and was recognized as such in the library world. In 1990, Virginia briefly left to work for Innovative Interfaces (III), but returned to DLA in 1992 as a programmer on Melvyl. Virginia worked with the Melvyl catalog for most of her career, from the original union catalog, through the conversion to the Ex Libris’ Aleph Melvyl, and then the conversion to OCLC’s WorldCat Local product. Sadly, she is retiring before the 4th reinvention of Melvyl happens with the upcoming transition to OCLC’s WorldCat Discovery product.

On the original Melvyl, Virginia was a PL/I programmer. With the conversion to Aleph Melvyl, she became proficient with the merge algorithm, which merged catalog records of the same item from different campuses into a single display. The merge algorithm was groundbreaking at the time, and is still in use throughout the broader library community. She also developed a QA system to ensure that changes and updates didn’t negatively impact the ability to find and display records correctly. Her supervisor at the time, Rebecca Doherty, soon learned to dread the words “Would you like to see something interesting?” It almost always meant she had discovered a problem.

Virginia often served as an in-house expert on metadata issues, providing valuable input to the HathiTrust and Google Books projects at CDL, and she understood the highly complex, interrelated metadata issues in the Discovery and Delivery team’s suite of services (Melvyl, Request, UCe-Links).

In October 2012, Virginia joined CDL’s Licensed Collections team, where she has applied her meticulous analytical abilities to collecting and analyzing usage statistics for CDL’s extensive portfolio of licensed journals, databases and ebook packages. The reports she has prepared, which are available on the CDL website, are heavily used by campus librarians.

Of all the things Virginia has worked on at DLA/CDL, the one that has been the most fun for her is the HathiTrust CRMS project. CRMS (Copyright Review Management System) has allowed her to look at digitized books in HathiTrust from the UK, Canada, and Australia, published in the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, to try to determine if they are in the public domain outside the US, or whether they have elements which are still under copyright. Looking up death dates for authors, editors, and everyone else who has contributed intellectual content to an item, whether illustrations, or introductory material, prefaces, etc. is pure detective work. Virginia is also a mystery book lover, so perhaps her love of detective work was informed by Agatha Christie and George Simenon. With the ending of the CRMS project and in striking distance of her seventh decade, Virginia has finally decided it’s time to retire.

To our dearest Virginia, we wish you all the best and we hope you enjoy a happy, healthy, and well-deserved retirement!