Archive for the ‘cig’ Tag

Going to London, where the streets are paved with acronyms…

Tomorrow I am going to London for a very full day of RDA and FRBR. In the morning, it is the informal RDA discussion for RLUK libraries which I’ve organised with Helen Williams. I cannot say how much I’m looking forward to it – born from a little casual remark on Twitter (as are all the best things I find). I’m hoping it will be a really useful opportunity to talk to other people thinking about RDA implementation in RLUK libraries, talk about what we’re planning, what we’re worrying about, what we’ve yet to decide. I’ve been doing a huge amount of preparation for RDA training/implementation since I returned from ALA so it will be great to chat to other people and see how my ideas and plans fit in with those of other people.

In the afternoon (must remember to have lunch in between), Helen and I are giving the FRBR for the terrified workshop for CIG in collaboration with CILIP in London. I have spent the day finalising my preparation. The workshop was fully booked within about 24 hours and we already have a waiting list so I think Helen and I are just really aware that we want to do a great job for all the participants and do justice to the fantastic workshop designed by Esther Arens. I think I’m going to dream about entities tonight.

I’m still writing up all my RDA-related notes from my fantastic trip to ALA in Anaheim last month. I promised to post it all here and I will, sorry it’s taking a while but I hope this post demonstrates that I am still very much actively thinking about all these issues. I hope to bring a lot of what I learned at ALA from colleagues in the US to my discussions tomorrow, with colleagues in the UK. Which is what it was all about.

CILIP branches & groups: some thoughts

I’ve been thinking about the role of CILIP branches for a while and had some informal discussions with a committee member because I’m not on the committee myself and don’t really have time to get involved this year. At the same time, I just attended my first meeting of the Cataloguing & Indexing Group (CIG) which I joined at the start of the year and many connected issues came up. After a really interesting discussion on Twitter last night, I wanted to blog some random thoughts (I’d love to think I’ll have time to write a well-thought-out and coherent blog post on the issues but the chances of me finding time to do that are pretty slim so this is the next-best option). I’d be happy to hear feedback and more discussion in the comments here. These are all entirely personal opinions (more focused on regional branches than on groups at the moment) though obviously I’m also thinking about how it will affect CIG too, just not speaking on CIG’s behalf.

The Twitter discussion came about because a couple of people were livetweeting the CILIP CDG & London joint AGM, which featured a talk by Annie Mauger and which Nicola Franklin blogged about here. Also the background of all this is the recent Branch and Group discussion and ensuing conversations within individual committees – useful summary provided by Katie and Emma if you want to check those out too.

Here’s a quick summary of the Twitter discussion, which was mainly between me, Tina (@tinamreynolds), Jo (@joeyanne) and Niamh (@cilipEoE) though we managed to attract the marvellous past-President of CILIP Biddy Fisher (@bikerbid) and I note with trepidation that Annie Mauger (@anniemauger) is following me as of last night! Just goes to show you’re never speaking into a vacuum on Twitter.

The coming changes should be summarised in a report from Annie Mauger shortly and the reactions to it ranged from being a bit afraid of what was coming to seeing it as a potentially positive opportunity to develop communication & change.

The role of the regional branches – Tina wanted to see the London group as “an umbrella group organising SIG + advertising events, being a catalyst for ideas”. This tied in perfectly with conversations I had had with both Jo and Niamh privately about the role of the regional branches – I really think that they should have a key role in collating venue information (already underway in CILIPWM) so that they can provide knowledge and possibly contact information about venues in the region, especially free or low-cost venues. This could attract the SIGs but also any other groups (TeachMeet, anyone? anything else?) to that region, particularly when it’s so important to keep costs down. The more people choose to hold events in your region, the more your regional members benefit from having easy access to events, CPD opportunities. This local element is crucial in an environment where people have less and less money available for travel, time off, conference or event fees (either out of their own pockets or through employers, who are probably starting to be more restrictive even where they did once pay).

Tina mentioned that CILIP London had tried to organise a SIG day to help facilitate collaboration but that there hadn’t been much interest, however I think in this new CILIP landscape there should be a lot more interest. I know we at CIG would be thinking along these lines, collaborating and cooperating with regional branches and using their local knowledge and advertising too. Hopefully another SIG day could be held in future? Maybe in more than one region?

There is an obvious need to know what members want, especially with what Annie Mauger was saying about CILIP becoming more focused on members. Everyone was talking about polling or surveying their branch or group membership in some way to get feedback on this, which would obviously be great and hopefully can happen soon. Although everyone was very pro-social media (what else would you expect in a Twitter conversation?), we all really felt that the face-to-face contact of the branches especially was crucial and was indeed where the branches “add value”. The fact of offering affordable activities and opportunities is crucial in the economic climate, as I said, and the branches should be proactive in providing people with ways to build a professional network locally through offering informal gatherings (drinks? lunches where everyone pays their own way?) but also through things like free talks. I know there’s a need to raise revenues but don’t underestimate the value of free in terms of goodwill, attracting members in and giving them something they will really appreciate.

I had already suggested that CILIP EoE might want to try something along the lines of ThinkDrinks (a few different groups hold them but look for example at the Digital Learning Network). Ours is quite a widespread region not known for fantastic public transport links, so I envisage the thinkdrink style event being a cheap (well, no venue costs, people buy their own drinks, so really just advertising which is pretty much free apart from time spent) and distributed model that can be repeated in multiple locations all over the region. I even wondered whether you could have a designated thinkdrink night (or lunchtime?) where people all through the region are encouraged to hold mini-thinkdrinks in each city/locality. Obviously some areas will have more take-up than others but it also means that someone in Suffolk doesn’t have to travel to Cambridgeshire for their “local” event. When I raised this, Jo mentioned that CILIPWM had tried pub networking evenings but that these had not been well attended (mainly committee members turning up) and suggested that this kind of event worked better with a focus/theme than just open-ended networking. This is why I think the thinkdrink model is interesting – it’s not “speed dating for librarians” or anything which I would personally cross the road to avoid. You could pick a very simple, very broad topic (even something like “what do you want from your local branch”) and bill it as a chance to get informal feedback from members while offering a chance to chat and meet up (everyone could do introductions as to where they work).

Finally, we did mention that maybe we need a Group/branch network of contacts, go-to-person. I’ve been happily using personal contacts and informal connections, eg Twitter, but there would be value in having a go-to person clearly advertised on the branch/group website too maybe? We were all agreed on the need to reach beyond Twitter and blogs. There was so much more to say, it was such an interesting discussion but Twitter has its limits so we wondered about moving to a different space to continue the discussions that must be had. Possibilities include a discussion on the CILIP communities forums, posts on our blogs/comments, possibly more formal routes like Update (which is probably already on the cards as CILIP moves through this process over the year ahead), a wiki, mailing lists, even Second Life or Skype for a multi-regional discussion? Jo mentioned the possibility of coordinating /discussion event some time (Biddy said she’d attend!) so there would be a possibility of lots of different mix-and-match discussion venues to encourage this thinking to continue.

CIG conference report: Japanese management techniques and workflow analysis

At the CIG conference in September, there were a couple of talks about Japanese management techniques and their application to workflow analysis in cataloguing/tech services. I found this very interesting – I live with someone who does Six Sigma/LEAN workflow analysis as a job and who has often commented on how he’d love to apply the methods to the library! It’s almost too interesting a topic – I have too much to say and so have struggled to write up my report for the last 2 months. I’ve finally done a version for my institution’s intranet blog and am reposting it here, with a few extra examples, as I think it’s of wide interest.  Last year, we started a review of workflows and processes within my own department (which is why I have been talking about library workflows at home!), so I have spent a lot of time thinking about this issue.

Stuart Hunt spoke about “Improving performance in cataloguing and technical services workflows”, based on the experience of the University of Warwick. They contracted an external company (Processfix) to analyse and improve workflows throughout all University departments. The wider economic context of current and anticipated future cuts led to a need on an institutional level to consider all activities and see how they could achieve that holy grail of “doing more with less”.

Examples of  Rapid Improvement Workshops that took place in the Library were looking at how long it took to shelve a book (from being returned to being on the shelf ready to borrow again) or examining the entire acquisition process, from recommendation to availability of a book to the reader. At Warwick, the process used various different tools that Stuart Hunt described together as “Japanese management techniques” but included Six Sigma, LEAN workflow and BPR (business process engineering). This is a field full of acronyms (so very familiar ground for cataloguers) but contains some very intriguing ideas and techniques.

 Stuart’s presentation should have been followed by a talk from Robin Armstrong-Viner talking about the use of LEAN Kaizen (one of these Japanese management techniques) at the University of Aberdeen. However, he was unable to make it due to a family emergency, so instead his slides were used as the backdrop for a more general discussion, led by Alan Danskin who gave some examples of how these workflow analysis techniques have been applied at the British Library.

The start was to “brown-paper” a wall (yes, apparently “to brown-paper” is a verb) to create a process map. Everyone involved in the process from beginning to end takes part and, using post-it notes, writes down each step in the process (one step per post-it). These are then arranged on the brown paper to give a sequence of activities in the process, which can be divided into “swim lanes” (areas within the responsibility of a particular team or department). The process map is then used to identify areas of “waste”, defined as “anything that doesn’t add value to the process”. Waste can be  many things, for example waiting time is a waste, so it’s often crucial to look at the point of handover from one “swim lane” to another. Another waste is over-production, doing redundant tasks – the example given here was adding coloured slips of paper with tick boxes to each item received which essentially repeated all the information already contained in the purchase order on the Acquisitions system (and I wasn’t the only person in the room nodding and groaning in recognition there). Sometimes it’s worth asking “why?” of a certain step/process, and repeating the why until you get a sensible answer – saying “because we’ve always done it that way” isn’t satisfactory. I call this the “irritating toddler” method of workflow analysis.

Transport is another example of waste, so another technique was to take a scale plan/drawing of the library layout and use string to map the journey taken by an item from the minute it arrives in the building to the point it reaches its final home on the shelves. The length of the string would show how far the item has to travel and could reveal waste. This can be very illuminating, though obviously there are physical limitations placed by the building which can be difficult to overcome.

There was a huge amount of detail and interesting examples in the talks – Warwick were able to reduce the time taken to reshelve a book from 48 hours to 4 hours by changing the workflow. Alan told a great anecdote from the BL’s experience, where a huge amount disruption to staff working time could be cut out simply by deciding to stop locking the door of the stamping room while the staff were inside (I loved this and have repeated it to people since I got back, but it maybe losing something in the re-telling…). It is worth looking at the full presentations if you are interested in the ideas or want to see some photos of “brown-papered” walls with process maps on them:

Stuart Hunt’s presentation (PDF) and Robin Armstrong-Viner’s presentation (Powerpoint)

Stuart mentioned that he plans to publish about this (indeed, he made quite a strong argument about there not being a culture of publishing in the UK but that there should be, as the library qualification is a research qualification too), so I look forward to reading more about it.

RDA at CIG: some rough notes

I seem to have let *cough* several weeks pass since I promised to write up more of my notes from the CIG conference in Exeter. Shame on me, I’ve been short of computer time and short of time at work to post this kind of thing. To start keeping my promises, here are some fairly rough notes on all things to do with RDA that came up during the conference. Be warned, there are a lot of acronyms coming in this post! A lot of the RDA stuff came up in discussions or questions so will not be reflected in the presentations on the conference website.

First there was a fairly informal talk from Alan Poulter, the new CILIP representative on JSC. He stated that, as an academic, he is very independent and happy to raise any issues, concerns or questions that people may have. He is keen to act as a real rep by gathering questions, comments and contributions. He is aiming to set up a website, maybe a wiki, to allow people to do this more interactively. He has had very little comment so far.

The questions discussed what will happen if some libraries adopt RDA and others don’t. Alan Poulter said this was something the library community has experienced before.

There was a question “If FRBR is the question, to what extent is RDA the answer?”, which Alan Danskin (CIG Chair and BL rep on JSC) answered basically saying it’s a move in the right direction. There was a chicken-egg situation where the cataloguing rules and the encoding (MARC) need to reflect FRBR, so the decision was taken to start with the rules which will allow the rest of the necessary changes to take place. He was at pains to say that moving to RDA will not be as big a shift (in the first instance) as the shift from AACR to AACR2. Very few headings will change. In future library systems, more work can be done at the expression level  and a FRBRised future is more attainable if this effort is shared. Someone else asked why we still didn’t have separation of description/display/coding in RDA but Alan Danskin felt that RDA did manage this separation (despite the fact that we’ll initially be implementing it in MARC) and that there is mapping to MODS as well as ISBD, etc.

Alan Danskin reported on the results of CIG’s RDA in the UK survey [Powerpoint presentation available online]. 78 responses, primarily academic libraries but a mix of other types. CIG feel the survey showed a generally low level of understanding about RDA, there is quite a lot of basic work to do on awareness and understanding. Feedback from BL staff also confirms that there is a big issues understanding the FRBR model, work-expression-manifestation-item, etc. Alan said that quite a few respondents to the survey were unclear what was meant by the questions on “percentage of materials catalogued in-house” and on authority creation.

 The survey also reveals a high level of concern about how non-professional cataloguers are going to handle RDA, it needs to be made straightforward.

CIG is planning to contact those respondents who offered help with training (venues, trainers, etc). They are currently looking at LC’s training materials and tailoring them to the UK audience. They aim to encourage discussion on the CIG website, invite new members to join the RDA Task & Finish Group, which aims to plan modules, delivery options and prepare training materials. CIG is aiming to make training available at as reasonable a price as possible. They are investigating free access, not charging for content at all just venue, catering, etc. They are investigating the Open University’s Moodle online course software with a view to developing something online which would be more accessible and reduce costs.

Alan Danskin confirmed that the BL are planning to make a decision about implementation next year. Interestingly, he said the BL has money in its budget for training and that it has been discussed with management how this will affect key performance indicators, though there were comments from the audience that this certainly will not be the case in other institutions (neither budget nor flexibility in KPIs).

 If the BL decide to implement RDA, they will have local policies to deal with RDA’s options and alternative rules, etc. They will probably follow most of the LCPS but not all, so there will be BL policies which will be added to the RDA Toolkit in time (with a link icon appearing next to the relevant RDA rule).

Also on a related note, during the Standards Forum Alan Danskin was talking about various MARBI proposals and said something in what he described as an “incautious moment” about MARC being at the end of its useful life. He said some of the recent changes highlight this as you find yourself working around the format to achieve what you need to achieve. When pressed on this, he said any predictions of the death of MARC should be taken with a degree of caution but that as long as we’re using MARC then we’re not talking the same language as everyone else. We need a schema based on a set of data elements (eg ISBD or RDA elements) that could be turned into XML. When linked data was mentioned, he pointed out that there was still a lot of stuff that had no URI to enable it to become linked data. The whole issue of MARC/encoding generally was a recurrent feature of tea break discussions and general chat, in fact.

Terry Willan from Talis commented that the information supply chain with all its interdependencies is a real problem, so many libraries buy in most of their cataloguing and the international infrastructure for bibliographic information is the real nut to crack. Maybe the only way to move away from MARC is a bottom up approach, starting small scale and gradually gaining traction. However, MARC is a very severe restriction on RDA.

Alan agreed that one of the difficulties everyone has with RDA is that it needs to be backwards compatible, so for example chapters 6, 9-11 have lots of elements to describe attributes of an entity (title of work, date of birth of person) but that this information then has to also be put into a string for a heading.

Someone asked whether there might be libraries which go for a “partial” implementation of RDA. Alan actually mentioned the example of what France was describing at the EURIG seminar (a “French profile” which only adopted certain “acceptable” parts of RDA) and said that if a library is not using the core set of RDA elements, then it is not RDA. It’s not good for the re-use of records. He also alluded to the issue of hybrid records, where they have been updated to RDA to some extent so that they are neither AACR2 nor RDA. He raised the question of a heading changing to RDA, what then becomes of the AACR2 records in the database which use that heading?

In a general discussion on the final morning, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm when the question was asked how many people had looked at RDA Toolkit for more than 30 minutes. It is perhaps confirmation of what Barbara Tillett described as a “muted response” in the UK that only Cambridge University and the British Library had taken out a subscription to the RDA Toolkit for this year. Not really surprising given the cost and uncertainty about implementation/implications during 2010-11. LSE reported that they had explored the Toolkit quite extensively during the open access period and used the opportunity to create some sample records.

CIG Conference: report to follow

This week, I spent three very enjoyable days on the Exeter University campus at the Cataloguing & Indexing Group (CIG) conference. It was an extremely interesting and useful programme with lots of great conversations and discussions. I have lots of notes to write up and things to mull over so I intend to do that in a series of blog posts.

However, I’m off on holiday for a week and so won’t have a chance to do it for a while. In the meantime, I wanted to point anyone with an interest to the conference website (presentations should appear there soon). I couldn’t livetweet in the conference room itself (no wifi signal) but there were several of us tweeting from the conference, or adding our tweets since we got back so have a look at the hashtag #cigx for more information. I’ve tried to set up a twapperkeeper archive for that hashtag, but am not sure if it’s working yet.

The high points (apart from meeting lots of lovely people and the fantastic food) were a morning spent looking at how Japanese business methods (LEAN Kaizen, Six Sigma) can be applied to technical services workflows – or actually any workflows for those of you in libraries too small to have separate departments – with examples from the experiences of University of Warwick, University of Aberdeen and the British Library. Also a programme designed to look at the “wisdom of the crowd” in assigning LCSH. There were also discussions of RDA which I’m going to come back to in a separate post, as well as retrospective cataloguing projects. There was actually such a lot of useful content that I will definitely need several posts to cover it all. So, there’s some cataloguing goodness coming to this blog very shortly. Once I’ve had my holiday.

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