Archive for the ‘communication’ Tag

Creating spaces for cataloguing conversations to happen

At the start of year I said I hoped 2011 would be another Year of Cataloguing Conversations. I’ve realised that this is already happening in a variety of ways and I am thinking of more ways to create spaces for these conversations to happen. I hope this will continue over the rest of the year. At the moment, I’m tying up loose ends at work before going on leave so – in a similar vein – here’s a post pulling together all the disparate threads of cataloguing conversations and my thoughts about them (in case I don’t get much chance to blog for the next couple of months).

Catbkchat & Conversations with Catalogers in the 21st Century

The idea of a Twitter cataloguing book club was just floated on Twitter and then managed to embed itself in enough minds that we’ve been doing #catbkchat now for a few weeks. We’re currently reading our way through Conversations with Catalogers in the 21st Century section by section. It has been quite successful, there is now talk of a more general library book chat (#libchat), and an off-shoot of the first #catbkchat was Anne Welsh’s experiment with her Advanced Cat & Class students at UCL, opening up the classroom to Twitter discussion of a freely available chapter of the book. I think this is a simple model that obviously attracts a lot of people so I’d expect and hope to see more of this kind of Twitter chatting.  

CIG E-forums

Okay so this isn’t really a new communication medium as ALCTS have been doing it for a while now, but I am really excited that CIG is trying out the e-forum format too! I’ll be co-moderating the first one on RDA on April 18-19th and really hope it provides a useful, free, open-to-all discussion channel for cataloguing debate and exchange of views.

The keen but clueless cataloguer’s guide to… linked data/the semantic web/metadata futures

This is a particularly hard thing to define but is something I have felt increasingly concerned about over the last year or so. Lots of things are happening in the areas of open bibliography, linked data, semantic web. There are many exciting projects and collaborations. I feel very strongly that this is a future path for cataloguers and catalogue data, and we should be interested and actively involved. Yet, I hear people in the communities working on these projects that they struggle to get librarians – or even cataloguers in particular – interested and engaged. Meanwhile, I feel I know a little but not quite enough to participate in the conversations…

Last week I mentioned on Twitter (in yet another exchange about this favourite topic of mine) that I wish there was some kind of “Idiot’s guide…” or “… for dummies” which would help point someone like me – an enthusiastic and interested cataloguer but with very little technical expertise or knowledge in programming etc – in the right direction. A few pointers on where to start among all this information. What would I need to know to take it further. I’m not afraid to teach myself, I’m not afraid of technology, there’s just so much out there I don’t know where to start or what would be most useful/important. Particularly from the point of view of the data I work with on a daily basis (catalogue records, authority files, RDA/MARC, etc).

A few things are currently being mentioned in this discussion – the possibility of a future Mashed Library event with a focus on metadata/cataloguing is one really intriguing idea. But to gather more suggestions in rather more characters than Twitter will allow, @orangeaurochs has set up this “Cataloguing Technology Wiki“. If you’re interested, have suggestions or are someone working in linked data/semantic web and other similar areas and wish you could just let cataloguers/librarians know what you wish they knew, then please come and add to the conversation in the wiki.

Cataloguing 23 Things

As part of the Cataloguing Technology Wiki, @orangeaurochs also asked how cataloguers prefer to learn about this kind of thing. Which has grown into a much wider conversation after a brilliant suggestion (from @NunuThunder) of some kind of Cataloguing 23 Things. So please come and look at what we’re talking about with this. There’s already quite a lot of interest in cat23, but we’re trying to refine what exactly that might mean and whether it would be a separate thing from the original idea of an “idiot’s guide…” to linked data, semantic web. The 23 Things could be more about mainstream cataloguing, tools and open source programs, similar ideas. We’re hoping to set up a separate space for that particular conversation but in the meantime, if you’re intrigued or have some good ideas, come and add them to the wiki. There are already some great ideas there but we need to get a clearer sense of what the potential participants would be looking for, what we’d need to cover, etc.

Support for solo or self-taught cataloguers

The cat23 discussion has also touched on something I’ve been pondering here in Cambridge for a while (since 23 Things in fact) – the idea of some kind of online/drop-in support for cataloguing questions/queries. I have had it at the back of mind for a while but was unsure how to make it work even in an institutional context. There are many people here who are solo librarians (let alone solo cataloguers) or cataloguers by default. There are also lots of people trying to teach themselves new formats. I wondered about a regular drop-in q&a session (bring a problem, we’ll all have a look together and see what we think). I get a lot of informal cataloguing queries that I think people are reluctant to ask through “official” channels (think the query is too basic or they should already know the answer or whatever). I think there might even be some benefit to it being possibly anonymous(ish) so had looked into IM chat type functions, twitter.

The conversations about cat23 and cataloguing learning raised the issue of solo cataloguers or self-taught cataloguers – especially in an age where very few get much in the way of cat & class at library school. Who helps and supports these people? Where can they turn for the smaller questions if they’re not comfortable asking on Autocat and have nowhere obvious to turn?

I’ve been doing a bit of investigating about this as it must be a perennial problem – there have always been solo cataloguers and this situation is only worsening. I notice that the Cataloging & Classification Section of ALCTS has a Recruitment & Mentoring Committee which reported at ALA Midwinter 2011 that they are planning to roll out a mentoring programme within CCS. I’d love to hear more about that as well as any buddy schemes to partner up solo cataloguers with other cataloguers, any distance support networks or similar. Anyone know about anything like that or involved in the mentoring at CCS – I would love to hear from you in comments or on Twitter!

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Twittering on (with added footnotes)

Ah Twitter.

Facebook was the start*. The start of the feeling that I was getting old. Twitter confirmed it. It’s the name I think, the whole vocabulary (tweeple, tweets, retweeting, hashtags). Suddenly I felt that maybe things were passing me by. I’m Generation X and Facebook and Twitter feel very much Gen Y or Z**.

So I tried to ignore Twitter at first. A few months ago, though, it became harder to ignore and I started looking and lurking. I realised how useful it is to follow conferences/seminars using hashtags when you can’t attend. Just this week, I’ve been reading tweets with the hashtag #exeter10*** to see what’s happening at the CoFHE/UC&R conference. Lots of other Cam23 bloggers have already described the value of Twitter for this kind of professional development and networking and I can only agree. If I had a smart phone, I would see the value even more. In terms of professional development for individual librarians, it has huge potential and the only problem is finding the time to keep up as things move so fast (again a smart phone would make a huge difference).

Twitter screenshotI know “it’s a conversation” and you should get involved, so I have tried tweeting and replying to people. However, I can’t say that I have found that gives me a huge amount more than I was getting from being a Twitter lurker**** to be honest.

On an institutional level, I remain to be convinced. Particularly for the smaller libraries, where there are always pressures of work and only limited amounts of time, I’m not sure that Twitter is worth it. This seems to be borne out by the experiences recounted by many of the Cam23 bloggers on this question. If, as a library, your users are primarily undergraduates then it seems that Twitter might not be something they use very much. Of course, this might change over time. I’m following quite a few libraries and related institutions now so it will be interesting to see if my feelings about this change with experience.

* More about this in a later Thing, I’m sure
** Where are the generations going after Z? Are my children Generation AA?
*** Figuring out how to type a # hash sign on my Mac required a desperate Google search when I first started actually tweeting
**** Doubtless called a “twurker” [shudder]

Only connect

I’ve just read a fascinating blog post over at 23 Criminal Things about their weekly emails to user, called the Friday Stuff. It is so interesting to find out more about what is happening in different libraries.

I have recently been arguing that we need to find more ways to find out about various things that are being done in Cambridge libraries, big and small. The libraries in Cambridge are full of innovative, inventive, creative, resourceful, enthusiastic and committed people, finding many great solutions to all kinds of questions or problems. I want to hear about it! Particularly if I’m trying to reinvent that particular wheel but even if it will just spark ideas that I may not have had otherwise.

Connections and communications between libraries have been improving gradually since I first worked in Cambridge libraries (some time in the last millennium). The annual libraries@cambridge conference, the various personal and library blogs, the Cambridge Librarians CamTools site and lots of other initiatives have all been steps in this general direction. However, I still feel a lot more could be done. Maybe it’s just me who is out of the loop, maybe everyone else is busily networking and communicating but I’m not sure. This is what I was talking about in my first post and one of the things I’m hoping for from 23 Things.

I look forward to finding out about more things like Criminology’s Library Stuff.

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