Archive for the ‘hvcats’ Tag

Adventures at ALA

I’m in Anaheim, California for ALA Annual. It’s hard to type that sentence without doing a little happy dance.

I was extremely fortunate to be awarded one of the conference bursaries from the John Campbell Trust this year which has allowed me to attend ALA. In my application for the bursary, I explained that there is such a lot of change going on in cataloguing at the moment with RDA implementation early 2013 and the LC Bibliograpic Framework Transition Initiative and that a lot of progress reports and announcements will be made here at ALA. So I will be attending pretty much everything on RDA that I can (and that’s quite a lot of things). It’s great to be able to get the information directly, rather than relying on Twitter and blogs for reports from others. I will be writing up everything I learn at the conference here on the blog as soon as I can and in as much detail as possible to share information with the my UK colleagues. I will also report to the CIG committee to feed into our training plans, as well as doing a formal report at the CIG Conference in Sheffield, September 10-11th.

Another part of what I’ll be doing while I’m here is working on the new project for High Visibility Cataloguing which I’ll talk about more over on that blog. For a year now, we’ve been thinking about the idea of a “23 Things” style programme for cataloguing and what we’ve come up with is something a bit different. We are working on phase one right now and part of that will be happening while I’m at ALA  (intriguing, eh?). I’ve got some HVCats cards to give away and hope to meet lots of catalogers/cataloguers while I’m here for that too.

I know, I know, it’s a hard life, right?

Advertisements

Anatomy of a cataloguer, or, I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed

This blog post started life as a comment on the “Anatomy of a cataloger” post by Theresa Schultz over at LISNPN but it got a bit too long and then moved slightly in another direction anyway so I’m posting here on my much-neglected blog.

First of all, it’s not entirely true that I wasn’t angry. There was definitely some anger, in fact there may have been a little mention of Hulk Cataloguer on Twitter last night. After thinking it through, however, what I’m left with is disappointment. First of all, please do read Theresa’s post. And definitely also read the comments there, eloquently and coherently written (thank you all). I’m not interested in any ad hominem attack – Theresa has replied to the comments and explained her position, welcoming the discussion. She points out that the piece is meant to be humorous. Let me just indulge in a little experiment to see if I can show why the reaction to her post wasn’t just a sense-of-humour-fail on the part of the cataloguers I know.

What if, instead of being a piece about cataloguers written by a non-cataloguer (or a very reluctant cataloguer, by her own admission), it were a piece about librarians written by a non-librarian. Replace “cataloguer” with “librarian” (and a couple of the other words to the new context) and see what it gives:

Is there any position more dreaded than “librarian”?  Not because they’re scary, but because none of us really want to do it?  Because we don’t really love books, electronic resources, searching, referencing, or silence?  Or any of the library standards?

I can’t think of anyone I went to university with who liked librarianship.  We all thought of it as a necessary evil.  I’ve had to do some work in a library, and I haven’t changed my tune overmuch.  Borrowing a book is fine, but working on an issue desk?  Forget it.

[…]

Librarians are respected in an abstract way, I think, when they’re thought of at all.  It’s not a glamorous position, a high-visibility position, or one with a lot of change.  If you like a reliable, steady sort of work, then libraries might just be for you. 

You get my point, right? If someone wrote this in a magazine or website, the library community would be all over it. Even though it’s intended to be humorous, the use of stereotypes, the “necessary evil”, “who’d want to do this” aspect would get our backs up and we’d be advocating and busting out of the echo chamber about libraries and librarianship. Wouldn’t we?

And rightly so. It’s particularly disappointing that this was written on a website for enthusiastic, interested new professionals, library school students and people interested in the profession. As part of a series that, while light-hearted, states its aim to give “a better understanding of what our colleagues do and so students might have more realistic ways to potentially decide which track to focus on”. Yes, the author gives some praise to the importance of cataloguing and the catalogue but all the while says “we’re lucky other people like to do this so that we don’t have to”. Who is going to finish reading that and think “Hmmm, I think cataloguing’s for me, I love to be under-appreciated, mocked and considered nitpicky”?

More importantly, I’m disappointed because we’re obviously not getting our message out. It’s been nearly a year since High Visibility Cataloguing was set up and we’re not much further out of the cataloguing echo chamber. I’m disappointed because we should have been *offering* to write a piece for LISNPN about the realities of being a cataloguer. As part of the discussion on Twitter last night, Doreva Belfiore made the suggestion that a cataloguer write about their work for the Hack Library School blog. Brilliant idea. We should have thought of that. Proactive not reactive!

In true schoolteacher-y style, I’m most disappointed in myself. Must. Do. Better. This high visibility stuff won’t happen all by itself, we need to be looking for avenues to promote and describe what we do ourselves, take charge of the narrative so that other people don’t do it for us.

This was my own personal reaction so I’ve posted it here but please do keep an eye on the High Visibility Cataloguing blog as we would really like to collect proactive ideas and ways to get our message out there. We need you! If only to make sure the Hulk Cataloguer doesn’t make another appearance.

Thank you to all the wonderful cataloguers who commented on the original LISNPN piece and talked about why they love cataloguing, superstars one and all!

P.S. I heard a rumour that the Hulk Cataloguer may have a Twitter account. If any gifted person would like to design an avatar for Hulk Cataloguer, I…. er, I mean he‘d be very grateful 😉

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!

Library (Half-)Day in the Life: Wednesday

I only work part-time, so my working week finished today at 1pm.

First of all, I have never managed to write a full explanation of what it means to work in a legal deposit library, what that specifically means about our cataloguing and workflows. One of the obvious points is that we didn’t specifically request/select everything that we receive. Another is that we don’t get to refuse it, pass it on elsewhere or withdraw it from stock. Fortunately for me, John McManus is a cataloguer at Trinity College Dublin which is also a legal deposit library and he’s written a great explanation, so I don’t have to. Read it, if you’re interested in why he deals with a lot of death, depression and diets whereas life in my library is more about Jesus, kings and Loose Women. While you’re there, anyone who’s ever spent time working in cataloguing/acquisitions will appreciate his latest picture on the importance of bits of coloured paper. It brought to mind Stuart Hunt’s talk at the CIG conference last September about workflow analysis.

This morning, I finished checking some cataloguing (with a bonus that a couple which I thought needed authority work actually didn’t), did a bit of classifying, put together a series authority proposal which was approved quickly – great news as we had 18 volumes of this particular series (each with multiple volumes itself). Even better news, I was able to pass the authorised heading on to someone else who would deal with all these books.

I then spent some time revising my talk on RDA (which I gave last week), amending a detail on one slide which meant I ended up able to amalgamate the contents of two slides onto one. I then printed out all my handouts and made a start on the photocopying for the next time I give the talk, next week. I had no idea how many people might turn up last week, so had printed 60 copies of all the handouts (a list of further reading, a handout of example RDA records and the slides themselves) thinking that might well cover both talks. To my surprise (it was a good surprise but definitely took me aback), around 70 people turned up so we ran out of handouts. I’m assuming surely that most people came last time so am only doing 40 copies this time. Plus everything’s available on the intranet so it’s not the end of the world if I don’t do enough. I do about half the photocopying, using photocopy ninja skills I learned during my time as first-line-of-defence against photocopier problems in a faculty library (double-sided? wham! staple and sort? ker-pow!) but started to lose the will to live so will do the rest on Monday.

I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the tv programme Loose Women today (for any US-based readers, it’s a daytime tv show spookily similar in premise to The View). Let me explain – our allocation of cataloguing for the British National Bibliography (as explained by John above, please keep up!) is titles beginning with the letters J, K and L. I had a book called “Loose women on men”, where the author was presented as “Loose women”. Um. Is that a corporate body? My colleague had just established an authority heading for the tv series because he had “Little book of Loose Women” and “Loose women: girls’ night out” or some such on his desk. Spent a bit of time conferring with colleagues about it. Our conversation took us through Monty Python – Monty Python (Comedy troupe) – via Top Gear, the Goodies, the Mary Whitehouse experience and Blue Peter. Luckily, we ended up deciding we wouldn’t have to create a corporate body heading after all, so I was able to finish off that record before finishing work.

Just before lunch, I was asked to look at some records to try to explain why facets in LibrarySearch (our name for Aquabrowser) no longer seemed to be correctly identifying all records for e-journals. Cue some discussion of Leader/008 codes, checking whether a flip in our e-journals records to a new code for online (using o rather than s in 008/23 if anyone’s interested) had actually happened (it had). I’m not sure my input answered the question on why it’s happening, but at least I’ve left the systems librarian with what I do know about coding and how it *should* work before I disappear for the week. I really enjoy getting involved in this side of the catalogue resource discovery tool, it’s just a shame I can’t get more involved as I’m not going to be around enough this year.

Instead of heading home, I go to a lunchtime talk on social networking in academic libraries, say hello to several friends and colleagues (there’s a big turnout again) and then finish off some bits and pieces of email while keeping an eye on Twitter. I also check the details of some errors in LCSH construction reported by a colleague. Twitter provides entertainment in the form of some discussion about reclassification projects (something I’ve recently started getting a nerdy interest in, not for current work, just in general after doing a reclassification to LCC in a previous job) as well as the useful information that there is a LCSH: Husbands — Effects of wife’s employment on. We managed not to call Richard Keys or Andy Gray for comment.

As usual, I try to tie things up before I go on a Wednesday and start to shift into my out-of-work mode (mainly spent organising my eldest’s hectic social life) but still have some leftover thoughts about work even tonight. I need a better to-do list system, this much is clear, and when I have one I will add to it some thoughts about macros (something I’ve been wanting to investigate further for some time) and follow up on something mentioned to me on Twitter (in response to the paper slips picture mentioned above). Oh and some random thoughts about the TeachMeet. But now, I’m heading to bed early to read something recreational… oh, that’s right I’m reading this. About a librarian. Er…..

2011 – the year of…

Well, it’s been a while since I blogged. Not because there is nothing to blog about, rather because there’s a little bit too much going on at the moment. So here’s a little summary of what I would like to be blogging about when I can find the time.

The year of cataloguing conversations

I’ve just ordered a copy of Conversations with Catalogers in the 21st century, which will hopefully reach me in a couple of weeks. I bought it after reading about it from Christine Schwartz (who has contributed a chapter). She talked about 2010 being the “year of catalog(u)ing conversations” but I feel I got to that one a bit late, so I’m very much aiming to see 2011 be another Year of Cataloguing Conversations. We are expecting the outcome of the US RDA Test by Easter and a decision on implementation by June. Given the level of conversation (and angst, worry, stress, conflict) already caused by RDA within the cataloguing world, I can only imagine that this will definitely get us all talking. Venessa and I are also planning to keep talking about High Visibility Cataloguing and have lots of ideas to get other people involved in that conversation too, so I’m hoping it will be a year of positive advocacy and visible cataloguers getting into the limelight and shouting about what they do and how they contribute. We already have guest posts lined up for the blog there.

I tend to end up talking about cataloguing if people stand still long enough to listen so I will keep doing that and hope it is more of a dialogue than a monologue. I am also on the committee of CILIP’s Cataloguing & Indexing Group, which is a great way to have more cataloguing conversations with colleagues from all over the country so I’m looking forward to that.

The year of the (lib)TeachMeet

Last year’s inaugural Cambridge Librarian TeachMeet went really well. We’ve been talking since then about where to go next – members of the organising team are giving talks at conferences during the year ahead so we can tell people about our experiences and the feedback we received.  This week we announced that the next one will take place on March 29th. We have launched our spangly new website and twitter account too, as we were looking to create ways for lots of people to get involved in discussing, talking about, planning and participating in the (lib)TeachMeet. There is also another librarian TeachMeet planned in Huddersfield on February 9th and version for museums – TeachMeet Museums – planned for February 4th so this might turn out to be the year that the non-teacher TeachMeet really took off.

The year of professional conversations

2011 started off with a bang, as I attended the libraries@cambridge conference. Other people have written fantastic summaries of the day which I can offer until I have time to write it up properly. Apart from being a much larger and swishy affair than when I last attended in 2007, it was the perfect mix of inspiring, intriguing and interesting presentations and a rare opportunity to socialise and chat to lots of old friends, former colleagues and new acquaintances (the first time I’ve had people who have only ever “spoken” to me online in some way come up to me and say “oh are you Celine?” or, in the case of Ned Potter, “oh you’re Kuh-juh-klib”). I hope this is the sign of the year to come. At the moment, I’m using the huge network of cataloguers and librarians on Twitter to follow what’s happening at ALA Midwinter in San Diego. Even though my year at work will finish in April, I think the professional conversations will carry on – I might be a bit quieter than usual but I’ll still be keeping in touch with Twitter.

Here’s to 2011 – finally a year which is going to let me talk as much as I want!

High Visibility Cataloguing

High visibility, because visible is the first step to being valued.

Since Venessa and I first started talking about High Visibility Cataloguing, we’ve been trying to get the message out to as many cataloguers, metadata specialists, information retrieval officers, bibliographic data managers and other colleagues as possible. Our thanks to Alan Danskin of CIG for his support and for allowing us to post to the CIG blog and hopefully reach a wider audience there. We also managed to get a piece in the last ever issue of Gazette last week (needs Flash to view).

If you didn’t read my original blog post about this then you’ll find it here. Even if you did read it, you may not have seen all the great examples of self-promotion and cataloguers hogging the limelight that people have added in the comments so please do have a look (both here and on Venessa’s post). We’ve been talking about it on Twitter and getting responses from all over the cataloguing world so we’re trying to use the hashtag #hvcats (and have set up a twapperkeeper archive for it). We’re hoping that there will be more discussion and more examples/ideas in the comments on the CIG blog post too.

Venessa and I are really delighted with all the support for the idea and have been collating the various examples and experiences and will hopefully have a central home for them all and for this discussion to continue coming very soon (to save me having to add so many links for you to click on!). An exciting development to look forward to!

%d bloggers like this: