Category Archives: high visibility opportunities
What do Lego, chocolate and a giant snakes and ladders board have in common? Well, they were all props used by members of the HVCats team to demonstrate to forty eager new professionals just how exciting cataloguing is as a career at CILIP’s New Professionals Day 2012. In this post Deborah Lee, Senior Cataloguer at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and Jennie-Claire Perry, Acquisitions & Metadata Librarian at the University of the Arts London, reflect on their workshops.
The workshop kicked off with a Lego classification activity led by Deborah Lee, who says: “we designed this activity to show some of the basics of faceted classification using a more kinaesthetic method, i.e. participants spent the activity handling lots of quasi-Lego bricks. In groups the attendees came up with possible facets (in the loosest sense of the word), considered hospitality issues and saw scattering first hand as they attempted to build a tower out of bricks scattered across their colour-based classification system. It was exciting to see some of the more creative ideas for possible facets: smell, taste and rarity were all suggested. The highlight of the activity was seeing the various groups race to build their towers as quickly as possible with the winning team those who finished the tower and shouted “Ranganathan” first. Chocolate (and hopefully a lifetime of always remembering Ranaganthan’s name and work) was a reward for the winners. The biggest challenge in co-leading the workshop was controlling the pesky quasi-Lego bricks which seem to get everywhere; I’m still finding pieces at the bottom of my bag one week on …”.
The workshop then moved on to an interactive session on the ups and downs of running a cataloguing department, led by Jennie-Claire Perry. Jennie says “The brief was to cover a topic related to cataloguing and classification in an interesting and preferably interactive way, rather than simply standing up and talking through a PowerPoint. After a few emails back and forth, Deborah and I decided that if it was interactive they wanted, it would be interactive they got, and came up with the idea of gamifying cataloguing management using a giant snakes and ladders board. There were some last minute issues to do with the number of delegates (roughly twice as many as I’d bargained for!) and whether the activity would scale up to accommodate so many participants, but the session went better than I could have hoped, with all worries about cataloguers being a bunch of introverts being dismissed once and for all!”
Deborah and Jennie’s tips on running a workshop:
1. Think “activity”. Are there are ways to extend the “doing” part of your workshop from just talking/writing in groups to more of an “activity”? It adds an extra dimension to your workshop and people can often learn better when doing something involving touch or moving around.
2. Logistics. If organising a more practical activity, plan the logistics as though it were a military operation (e.g. how many people in a group?, how many bricks per table?, how should we arrange the room, how much time do we need to leave so participants can get to the back of the room for the second part of the workshop?). Remember to leave extra time for anything involving people physically moving around, people in groups being told to go somewhere have an annoying habit of moving much more slowly than a single person walking somewhere.
3. Testing. The Lego activity was trialled with some “volunteers” from Deborah’s library. Though it wasn’t exactly the same as the real-life activity this was invaluable to the success of the real-life workshop. Pilots can be particularly useful to see if you have left enough/too much time for the activities, to see any knots in your instructions and get general feedback on how you/the activity is being perceived.
4. Take a camera. The session will be over in a flash and you won’t remember all of it. It is great that we took some pictures so there are visual prompts that we can use to make improvements for next time we run a session.
*Or more precisely, in my handbag, on the carpet at CILIP, on the living room floor, under my desk at work, on my desk at work and probably down the back of the sofa (if I was brave enough to look…)
This guest post is by Heather Jardine, talking about the fabulous high visibility initiatives she and her colleagues have implemented for the Bibliographical Services Section of the City of London Libraries. I this these are inspiring ideas, we’d love to hear anything you have to add:
If you are going to do a job at all, you should do it properly. So now that we have decided it is time to promote ourselves and what we do, we have thrown caution to the winds and we are trying almost everything.
We started with tours of the Bib Services Section, what we call “The Journey of the Book”, initially for new staff colleagues but now also for members of the public and for colleagues from other libraries (so now we have three “flavours” of tour – Staff Journey of the Book, Public Journey of the Book and Professional Journey of the Book). The content is essentially the same for all three, but the level of detail varies according to the audience. Fellow professionals always seem most interested in workflow and management issues, members of the public are always fascinated by the processing – all that stickyback plastic takes them back to Blue Peter and their younger days. Yes, it is a faff setting it all up, but we learn as much as our visitors do and almost always people are interested, engaged and persuaded that what we do is valuable and useful, which is enormously satisfying. And, you never know who is going to come through the door on a tour. It might be someone with influence to help us, or someone who will bring us work and income. We all need friends at the moment. We are beginning to think that marketing it as a “behind-the scenes” tour might get more custom – everyone likes to see what goes on out of public view, as the National Trust and many other heritage organisations realised long ago when they started opening kitchens and other below-stairs areas.
One thing leads to another, and because we were doing tours, we decided that we needed a leaflet to hand out both as publicity and as a souvenir in goody-bags.
And we thought that a big, bright, well-designed poster on the wall outside our office would tell people who we were and what we did (it helps that our office is across the lobby from the public toilets, so there are always people about).
After a while, we thought that having a video version of our “Journey of the Book” might bring it to a wider audience, so we made a film and put it up on YouTube. It’s doing OK for views, but we’d probably get more if we had included a skateboarding cat. Oh well, there’s always next time. (That’s one of the things you find out quite quickly – whatever publicity material you produce, you have to review and revise it surprisingly often.)
And we have a page “about” us within our catalogue, and on our Intranet too, of course.
But there is still more to do. Only the other day I was introduced by a colleague as, “This is Heather – she works in the basement”, as if that was the only interesting thing about me. So – what next? My own gut feeling is that Facebook is passé, but we might give it a try nonetheless. Then there is Twitter. I’ve got mixed feelings about Twitter, but I am slowly being persuaded that it can be a useful tool. “Bib Services: the musical”? Probably not.
Perhaps the most important thing to say, is that we started without any special skills or knowledge. We are not marketing professionals, or graphic designers. It’s been a huge learning curve. Maybe when we look back, we think of ways we could have done it better – but there is always next time. Meanwhile, we’ve got something out there. And if we can do it, so can you.
We’d like to hear what you think of what we’ve been doing and to learn from your experience too.
The blog: Work and expression
About us: The Bibliographical Services Section
This guest post is by Joseph Norwood and the rest of the #uklibchat team,and we hope to see a few high visibility cataloguers at the chat on Thursday:
#uklibchat is a fortnightly discussion group for librarians and information professionals, and on Thursday 23rd February between 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM, we’re going to be talking about cataloguing and classification.
An agenda for the chat is available here and can be added to if you have any questions that you would like to raise during the discussion.
These chats are a great way for librarians to share their ideas about a subject and to find out more about things that they may not often come into direct contact with at work. I’m hoping that this discussion will give people outside of cataloguing a chance to learn more about the importance of cataloguing work, and I’m sure it will also be very interesting for people who work or want to work as cataloguers. Topics to be discussed on the day include the future of cataloguing, training, and how catalogues could be presented to users.
More information about the chat; and summaries of previous chats can be found on our blog (http://uklibchat.wordpress.com/).
The #uklibchat team can be contacted by Twitter through @uklibchat if there’s anything you’d like to ask us.
Here’s a list of people with catalog(u)ing / metadata / systems roles who have signed up for Library Day in the Life Round 8. It’s a rough list, put together from the descriptions people gave on the libday wiki page supplemented by people who contacted us letting us know they were taking part. If you’re involved in something catalog(ue)-related and want to be added here and to our twitterlist, let us know.
- @AhavaCohen (Love in the Library)
- @AnneWelsh (Library Marginalia)
- @Annie_Bob (The Hobbit Hole)
- @archelina (The toast in the machine)
- @bibliosaurusrex (Bibliosaurus Rex: beyond 140 characters)
- @bringyournoise (bringyournoise)
- @ces43 (Librarian in training)
- @darklecat (Dark side of the catalogue)
- @evil_jen (Includes bibliographical references and index)
- @Jason_W_Dean (The Dean Files and Jason’s Grey Cells)
- @JohnsanG (Life through a lens)
- @libdespot (245 00 $a Split files : $b a blog)
- @millieshoes (The Bradford Librarian)
- @sara_mooney (Sara Mooney)
- @slmcdanold (The randomness that is life); also on Google+ and flickr
- @stjerome1st (Blogging cataloguing)
- @ULtower (Discovery)
We’d love to see more posts about cataloguing and related matters this time – please let us know if you’re signing up and have cataloguing / metadata / systems duties, and we’ll post a round up at the end of the week.
Happy 2012 to all the high visibility cataloguers out there! Here at HVCats HQ, we have great plans for this year, starting with a post hoping to generate some debate.
This guest post is from Robin Armstrong-Viner, Head of Collection Management at the University of Kent. It’s an interesting look at how to go about recruiting in a time of almost continuous change, with a bonus job advert at the bottom if anyone’s jobhunting at the moment. What do you think? What is most important now, specific defined skills or the attitude of the person recruited in the face of changing times? How do you describe what you’re looking for to make sure you get the right candidates? And what skills and attitudes should cataloguers be looking to in their professional development (#catcoders, I’m looking at you – post to follow about that!). Over to Robin…
Like many (if not all) HE institutions the University of Kent is experiencing a period of rapid change. The most obvious driver is the increase in tuition fees for new entrants later this year but there are a number of reasons for this. The need for the University to offer an inspiring student experience and produce innovative world-leading research while operating in an effective, efficient, sustainable and professional manner (three of the key messages from the University’s Plan for 2009-12) creates significant challenges for Information Services including Library Collections.
During 2012-13 we expect to see transformational change within Library Collections as we review each of our core processes including the selection, acquisition, cataloguing, classification, processing, delivery, preservation and disposal of learning and research materials in all formats. We are fortunate in being able to recruit a Project Manager to help lead and support these projects working with the teams involved but there has been much discussion about what should be included in the person specification for that role.
Most of the discussion has been around how to find someone with the right attitude. Naturally job descriptions tend to focus on specific tasks and skills, but is this the best approach in a period of uncertainty and change? What are the skills associated with innovation? Can you write a job description around attitudes such as being keen to explore new ideas and develop new skills? Is it appropriate to demand that candidates are not only comfortable with technology but eager to exploit it to achieve its maximum potential? How do you attract advocates and champions?
And where does this leave traditional library skills? Should a formal qualification in librarianship be an essential criterion? By making it one would we risk creating a barrier to those outside the profession (or even those within it but who haven’t ever taken that final step) who could bring the very attitudes and approaches we need? An understanding of library processes, MARC, etc would help, but could someone who has been involved in process improvement and the transformation and repurposing of data in other contexts use that experience to benefit us?
I don’t know that we’ve found the answer (yet!) but we’ve had a go in the job description we’ve created at http://tinyurl.com/8yrpzgp. And if you’re a High Visibility Cataloguer who is looking for a challenge we’d love to receive an application from you!
Thanks very much to Rachel Playforth, of the British Library for Development Studies, for this guest post.
As demonstrated by the recent ‘anatomy of a cataloguer’ debate, the thing we most love about our job isn’t pinning down bibliographic details with merciless accuracy just to appease our uptight personalities, but the fact that what we do helps people find stuff. More than that, without us they may never find it at all. So I just wanted to share a recent experience that warmed my heart and shows how a catalogue record created in the UK can lead, in less than 72 hours, to a satisfied patron with an item on their desk in India.
At the British Library for Development Studies we catalogue (index) individual journal articles from about 160 journals, many of which aren’t indexed by any other A&I services. Once an article is added to our OPAC it is harvested by our ‘Updates’ service, which sends out subject-specific notifications of our new acquisitions to subscribers via email or RSS on a fortnightly basis.
Subscribers (who may be individual researchers, librarians or other staff working on sourcing information for research institutes, universities, NGOs etc) can then request any item in their Update via our document delivery service.
In this case, I catalogued an article from The Indian Journal of Economics on Wednesday, taking care to add relevant subject descriptors (from the catchily named OECD Macrothesaurus for Information Processing in the Field of Economic and Social Development). It was then harvested and sent as part of our ‘Governance, civil society and democratisation’ Update on Thursday. One of our email subscribers, who also has a document delivery account with us, requested it on Friday morning and I duly scanned and delivered the full text of the article to his email inbox on Friday afternoon.
I’d say that was pretty good customer service and an excellent use of the cataloguer’s art (or is it a science? or a craft?) And while it may be unusual for a cataloguer to also be involved with document supply and hence see both ends of the process, as it were, it’s definitely not unusual for us to go out of our way to make things findable, whether from India or anywhere else.
Here at HVCats HQ, we think this is a great idea and are very happy to post this for Karen Pierce – @darklecat on Twitter. We look forward to hearing all about how it goes in Wales and wonder whether people in other parts of the country/world might get inspired by Karen’s idea (hint, hint).
Are you a cataloguer, or someone who works with metadata, in Wales? Would you like to meet up with other likeminded souls? I am hoping to organize a day/half-day seminar featuring presentations from cataloguers in Wales, and to enable a networking occasion. Can you please contact me if you are a) theoretically interested in attending such an event and b) willing to give a presentation at this event
I am looking for presentations on any of the following themes: special projects, reclassification, retrospective projects, working as a sole cataloguer/one-man band, preparing for RDA, collaborative cataloguing… but am quite happy to have anything suggested!
- Venue: Cardiff University
- Date: January/February 2012
- Cost: Free (or low cost) – this will be a zero budget event, I just want people to get together in a conducive atmosphere
Please contact me on PierceKF@Cardiff.ac.uk or leave a comment on my blog post http://darksideofthecatalogue.wordpress.com/ Feel free to disseminate this to anyone you think might be interested. Although I am focusing on people who work in Wales (because that is where I am based, and because I think a regional focus will be interesting), I am happy for people who live outside Wales to attend (the more the merrier).
We are very pleased to be able to incorporate the knowledge and experience of Susie Kay in our guest page which you can read here.
Susie Kay is Founder of The Professionalism Group, offering advice and consultancy to individuals, students, businesses and professional institutes, focusing on the benefits of professionalism and personal effectiveness. (www.theprofessionalismgroup.co.uk).
She is a speaker and writer as well as offering 1:1 support and workshops. Do get in touch if you have issues which you would like to discuss (email@example.com).
Guest post: On Open Days : showing library staff what actually goes on in your cataloguing department! – Lynne Dyer, Bibliographic Services Manager.
We are pleased to host this post by Lynne Dyer about raising the profile of a cataloguing team through open days. Lynne was inspired to write this after reading Rachel Care’s post earlier this week. Please add your thoughts in the comments box below.
On Open Days – showing library staff what actually goes on in your cataloguing department!
Lynne Dyer, Bibliographic Services Manager, De Montfort University
Many years ago, the Cataloguing and Acquisitions teams were based in a different building from the rest of the library, across the road in a fairly basic office. Logistically, this posed several major problems; adding at least an extra 24 hours to the order to shelf time; increasing the time taken for staff to get from one building to another to undertake their library duties (like, counter, enquiry desk, shelving and shelf-checking sessions); rendering two senior staff unavailable to participate in the duty manager rota (as the duty manager deals with library security incidents and fire alarms / bomb alerts and needs to be on the spot), to name but a few.
Some of the advantages were that cataloguers were not disturbed by other library staff coming into the office to look at items in the backlog (!), but the corollary of this was that we were quite isolated from mainstream library activities, staff from the team were not always known by their colleagues in the library and few other library staff had any knowledge of the work processes in the acquisitions and cataloguing teams.
In order to address some of these issues, I organised a series of what I called Open Days. An invitation was issued to all members of the library staff to come and see what went on in the cataloguing team. It had been originally planned that the Open Day would cover both the work of Acquisitions and Cataloguing but this proved impractical to organise so was restricted to the work of Cataloguing. Within the team, a member of staff was assigned to demonstrate each process to the visitors, showing them what was done, how it was done and to answer any questions the visitors might have. Sessions were scheduled to last up to 15 minutes each, and were sequential, so visitors would start with the ordering process, move on to receipting, to cataloguing, to classification etc..
Publicising the Event
The whole event was marketed by a snail mail shot to all library staff which included a “personal” invitation (see Appendix A below). This invitation was also used as an A3 poster displayed on the various library staff noticeboards. No-one was chased or hounded to come, the sessions were in no way compulsory; it was assumed that anyone who didn’t reply would not be coming.
We were hugely surprised by the amount of take-up we had! So many people wanted to come and see what we did that we had to arrange three groups, the first starting at 9.30am, the second at 10am and the third at 10.30am, which would allow for any session running over time. Once we knew exactly who was attending we allocated them to a specific group and sent them a timetable. (see Appendix B and Appendix C)
Easing the Stress of the Staff
The majority of cataloguing and acquisitions staff had never taken part in any such event previously and were quite unsure and worried about how to present their work to colleagues. In truth, some were quite terrified. In order to help them feel more relaxed about it and better prepared, a briefing session was held at which staff could air their concerns and one or two pointers could be given to them:
- Know exactly what you’re going to say, even if you have it all written out on a crib sheet!
- Have all your examples sorted and ready to use
- Try out your presentation on a team colleague first
- Wear something you feel comfortable in – it will help you feel confident!
- If people ask questions, answer them as best you can. If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t and offer to find out the answer later, or refer them to someone else who might know the answer
- If you feel that questions or comments are being made that seem to criticise you or your working practices then say that this is not an appropriate time for such a discussion and suggest that the questioner addresses their queries to me, the team manager
- Remember that you know your job inside out, upside down and back-to-front, so you’re the one in control.
The Open Day
Generally, staff were well-prepared for their demonstrations, some had written notes, others had done a practice demo to a cataloguing or acquisitions colleague etc. so when the time came to share their tasks with other library staff they were very well able to do this.
On the day, naturally, some sessions overran, and some were a tad shorter than anticipated, but on the whole timings were kept to (see Appendix C). If I remember correctly, it did become necessary to take a couple of sessions out of turn, just so that the groups didn’t overlap. Also, as an organiser, I did notice that one or two people didn’t attend every demo they were scheduled to, but that was probably a good thing, as they could concentrate on the things that interested them most, or fitted in with some of what they themselves did. Doing the demos was a very intensive time, however, with each person doing three demos in quite a short space of time, so everyone was drained by the end.
Getting the Feedback
In order to gauge how successful the event had been, each attendee completed a feedback form, which asked them to comment on certain aspects of the day (see Appendix D). This feedback was to help us, when planning any subsequent event, to provide a better experience. Pleasingly, the response rate was 75%, and the majority of these comments indicated that people found the sessions useful, that the format was right, and that they were happy to see everything. The best things seemed to be:
- Seeing the whole process through and how it fitted together and where it fitted into the roles of the attendees
- The Open Day taking place!
- That each session was informative
- Group size was good
- The great reception received from the Cataloguing staff
Things that could have been done better included:
- The timings – some demos were too long
- The content – some demos were trying to convey complex ideas and processes in too short a time
- A tea break scheduled in
- More time for questions and answers
- More time for a general wander around the office
All these comments were useful and were taken on board when we ran our next set of Open Days.
Subsequent Open Days
The success of that first Cataloguing Team Open Day led other teams to try the same format, so very soon, nearly everyone in the library knew what went on in all parts of the library and such understanding led to better working relationships across the service.
For a couple of years, the Open Day became on annual event, although numbers dwindled, as the staff turnover here has never been high. After the initial Open Day the itinerary was tweaked a bit, timings were modified, a tea break included and some demos removed, in line with the suggestions we had received on the feedback forms.
Having let these sessions lapse, we reinstated them, with a slightly different focus, so people were invited to discover a specific aspect of the cataloguing and acquisitions role, e.g. following the trail of a book order, from order to shelf, following the trail of a serial through the team, and groupings of other, supplementary activities that the teams undertook, for example, the project to get exam papers digitised (see Appendix E). In addition to the revised “routes”, the reverse of the itinerary included a list of all members of the team, their telephone extension number, their email address, and a list of areas in which they were experts. This was headed:
Get the right person – get the right answer!
On the day, each section – e.g. Cat / Class, Serials, Local Inputting etc. – had a banner hanging over their work area to direct people to the sections they were interested in visiting.
Extending the Model
On a more local level, we have also used the same Open Day style to alert people in the team to how their role fits into the role of the team as a whole, so staff were invited to demonstrate their tasks to others in the team. This has led to a more flexible team; people became aware of what else was happening in the team, so they were able to identify areas where they could help out. But, more on this in a future post!
Lynne Dyer, June 2011
“Now what did I do with that book order?
Oh yes, I sent it over to the X building …”
From the black hole that is the X building,
home of the Acquisitions and Cataloguing teams,
we offer you the chance to find you exactly what
happened to your order and how it transmuted
into an entry on OPAC!
See ordering, cataloguing, processing and other
fascinating tasks in action during a fun-packed
O P E N D A Y
Day: [Day, Date]
Venue: Building X, Rm 2.12
Time: 9.30 onwards
Your personal invitation
Dear ………………………………………………. You are invited to our Open Day.
I am / am not * able to come to your Open Day
*Please delete as appropriate and return to Lynne Dyer
Cataloguing Team, X Building, Rm 2.12
Response to those expressing an interest
OPEN DAY – [Date]
Thank-you to all of you who said you would like to come to our open day. I have divided you into three groups and the following people are in each group.
Please come over to Building X, Room 2.12 and report to the reception desk in time to begin your tour at the appointed time!
Anyone who said they could only come for some of the time, if you still want to come, just join the people in the group that suits you best.
Please let me know if you have any problems with the timetable.
Many thanks. We hope you enjoy your visit!
OPEN DAY – [Date]
9.30 Introduction (staff initials)
9.45 Book orders onto the LMS (staff initials)
9.55 Role of the bookshop (staff initials)
10.05 Receipting (staff initials)
10.15 Dealing with duplicates etc. (staff initials)
10.25 Original works cat/class (staff initials)
10.35 Subject indexing (staff initials)
10.45 Inputting local information (staff initials)
10.55 Processing / jacketing / labelling (staff initials)
11.05 Checking / boxing up (staff initials)
11.15 Any questions (staff initials)
10.00 Introduction (staff initials)
10.15 Book orders onto the LMS (staff initials)
10.25 Role of the bookshop (staff initials)
10.35 Receipting (staff initials)
10.45 Dealing with duplicates etc. (staff initials)
10.55 Original works cat/class (staff initials)
11.05 Subject indexing (staff initials)
11.15 Inputting local information (staff initials)
11.25 Processing / jacketing / labelling (staff initials)
11.35 Checking / boxing up (staff initials)
11.45 Any questions (staff initials)
10.30 Introduction (staff initials)
10.45 Book orders onto the LMS (staff initials)
10.55 Role of the bookshop (staff initials)
11.05 Receipting (staff initials)
11.15 Dealing with duplicates etc. (staff initials)
11.25 Original works cat/class (staff initials)
11.35 Subject indexing (staff initials)
11.45 Inputting local information (staff initials)
11.55 Processing / jacketing / labelling (staff initials)
12.05 Checking / boxing up (staff initials)
12.15 Any questions (staff initials)
Cataloguing Team Open Day [Date]
Feedback form – in order to help us plan our next session. All replies will be kept confidential.
Did you find today’s sessions useful / helpful?
Was the format of the morning right for you?
Would you have preferred to choose which demos you came to?
What was the best thing about the morning?
What could have been done better?
Thank-you for your time.
Please hand this completed form in as you leave or send it to: Lynne D, Building X, Rm 2.12
Cataloguing Team Open Morning
The morning will begin with a tour of the department to see the progress of a book order from the time it is received in the team to the time the actual book leaves the office. You will then be able to pick which aspects of the team’s work you learn more about by choosing specific areas to visit. Below are some suggested combinations that will give you an overview of the team’s work.
The Basic Book Route
If you want to know more about the basic process for books, follow this suggested route:
¨ Local inputting
¨ Final checking
The Enhanced Book Route
Add-ons to the Basic Book Route could include:
¨ Duplicates, new editions, urgents and freebies
¨ Subject indexing
The Serials Route
If you want to know more about the cataloguing of journals try the following:
The Homemade Route
If you just want to see one or two aspects of our work feel free to make up your own route, or just come down and ask questions of anyone in the team – if they can’t answer your question, they will know someone who will be able to!
We hope you enjoy your visit.
PS The Exam Paper Route is unavailable for this session, but we hope to run something specifically on this once term has begun.