Blog Archives

High Visibility Cataloguing at ALA Annual

Thanks to a conference bursary from the John Campbell Trust, HVCats (in the person of Céline Carty) is attending ALA Annual at Anaheim.

I have some HVCats goodies (very modest ones) and would love to meet any catalog(u)ers who are going to be at ALA. Do come and say hi if you see me at the conference. Feel free to get in touch with me via @HVCats on Twitter or come to the Networking Uncommons, where I’m planning to be from 12-1 on Monday (and possibly at other times too once I finalise my schedule). I’d love to hear about high visibility ideas, talk about our plans here at HVCats to do some new professional development projects as part of the cat23 idea and meet as many high visibility cataloguers as I can while I’m here. I’m the British, slightly jet lagged one if you want to look out for me!

Advertisements

Lego, Lego, everywhere, on the table on the chair …*

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 …”.

Lego towers

Some of the Lego towers created during the classification workshop

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!”

Cataloguing snakes & ladders

Playing cataloguing snakes & ladders at #CILIPNPID12. Photo by @usernametaken10.

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…)

Shameless self-promotion

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.)

We have started a blog, too, and made sure that it is picked up by Planet Cataloging, so it gets read as widely as possible.

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.

Check out:

The video: An introduction to the Bibliographical Services Section of the City of London Libraries

The blog: Work and expression

About us: The Bibliographical Services Section

Higher visibility at Eton College Library – guest post

Our new guest post is by Louise Anderson @LibrarianLCA about her work as Catalogue Librarian working to make the fascinating collections of Eton College Library more visible.

A new year at Eton College Library hopefully means a new (the first!) OPAC. This is very exciting for us after several years building up to the event. Electronic cataloguing started on the main library, housing pre-1800 materials, at the turn of the century and these are still being catalogued now. I was brought in just over three years ago to catalogue the 19th and 20th century printed materials and am still working on these. With this frenzied activity we have a respectable number of items catalogued with which to launch the OPAC.

This would have happened sooner but we seized the opportunity to piggy-back on the rest of the college collections’ change of management system. We have moved from Mikromarc to SSL (System Simulation Ltd.) and, not before time, from UKMARC to MARC 21. We have been working with other SSL users including the Royal Academy of Arts, for whom the system was devised, to optimise the usability and features and have
been able to tweak it in significant ways. When we are up and running, users will be able to search across the collections, many museum items will have images (hopefully this will be extended to books, mss., and archives), and within our records we can add links to webpages.

A letter and airgraphs from Glen Byam Shaw to Angela Baddeley, MS 442. Reproduced by permission of the Provost and Fellows of Eton College.

This has coincided with a drive to catalogue our literary archives and after researching embryonic GLAM guidelines and looking at records of literary archive holdings in other institutions – including the John Rylands University Library – we have decided to do this in the archival rather than the MARC cataloguing system, allowing us to add levels of detail when time and funding allows. We will still have MARC records with links to finding aids for archives that have already been listed, but this will be easy to copy into an archive system record if we wish to in the future. The decision was not straight forward; we may have to iron out issues with the separate authority files and the format of the data within, and if we ever want to put all library items on a different system the mapping would be difficult, however, the college should always have an archives system.

We have made the decision to continue to catalogue our individual literary mss. in MARC 21, including small groups of letters, drafts, etc., although there was much debate about when a group of mss. become an archive. Is it when they are by the same person in the same period of time, or when the letters are to the same person? Is it when the documents exceed a certain number even if there is not necessarily a subject shared? Or does it matter when in their history they were gathered together in one place? We decided there would be an element of cataloguer’s discretion, influenced by factors such as shared subject, place of production, volume, and if they had been collected together before they came to us. However, this is not yet set in stone and any suggestions would be very welcome!

Now for the fun bit. Our priorities regarding what to catalogue have been influenced mainly by use, retaining institutional knowledge, and what we wish to display in the public arena. Our literary archives have been, and are increasingly most likely to be, our high use items. Archives of Glen Byam Shaw, Wilfrid Blunt, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Thesiger, and David Horner/Osbert Sitwell fall into this category. Our individual literary mss. are also likely to be well used, and the knowledge about most of these rests with our Modern Collections Curator, which we need to capture electronically. I will hopefully be moving on to these very soon and I can’t wait to get my hands on mss. by Coleridge, Byron, Dickens, Browning, Bridges, and Fleming to name but a few. The same motivation will lead on to cataloguing the WWI materials that have been collected in addition to
those forming the original collection of the Macnaghten Library of WWI materials, given to Eton as a memorial in 1938. We will also need to know exactly what we have when we start curating our 2014 WWI exhibition. However, before all of this we need to finish cataloguing the items in our soon to be published “100 books and manuscripts” (working title) publication, which is a roundup of some of the stunning acquisitions of Eton College Library in the last 40 years, including a King James Bible, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s annotated Sophocles, and journals of Anne Thackeray Ritchie – just to whet the appetite.

To India, with love: a cataloguer’s tale

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.

High Visibility cataloguers on Twitter

We recently put a call out on Twitter for cataloguers and metadata practitioners that were willing to be included in a comprehensive list, and got a great response.

Screenshot of cataloguing-metadata list

The list provides a simple and quick way to find cataloguing Tweeps to follow, and can be found here. Follow it (and @HVCats) to keep up to date with what is being discussed in the metadata world and hopefully get some high visibility ideas too. Most of you who already use Twitter will be aware of the Magical Metadata Fairies Twitter list (formerly called Troublesome Catalogers) maintained by Becky Yoose (@yo_bj) which is also a great source of twitter cataloguing discussion. Our list probably has more of a UK bias at the moment (though we’re hoping that will change over time) and also only includes people who have specifically requested to be added.

If you’d like to be included on the list please message @HVCats.

Challenging Cataloguing processes

As part of my role in this initiative I have reviewed some literature surrounding the ongoing debate between the implementation of RDA and a much bigger leap into the future by the cataloguing world. Read the article here and all comments would be added value to HVCats.

Venessa Harris

Cataloguer Day in the Life

Library Day in the Life Round6 begins tomorrow, Monday 24th January 2011 and runs all week (yes, it’s a day in the life but some people like to do a whole week, or don’t work on Mondays or… well, it’s up to you). I’ve been aware of this for at least a year but haven’t ever managed to actually take part. However, it took a prompt from Anne Welsh (@AnneWelsh) to make me realise what a fantastic opportunity this was for some High Visibility Cataloguing! Cataloguers and catalogers, metadata managers and knowledge information specialists everywhere should join in and describe what their work involves, what they do in a typical day/week. What better way to do exactly what we’ve been banging on about – show people what cataloguing work involves, how it contributes to the mission and performance of the library. It is a chance to show non-library people but, more importantly as a first step I think, it’s a project that is hugely popular and widely followed by other librarians so it’s a way to improve our visibility among our colleagues. So I urge you all to sign up for Library Day in the Life Round 6, full details here.

Glancing through the list of people already signed up for Round 6 or even previous Rounds, there are a few cataloguers but not many, so please anyone who can do it, do sign up.  If you don’t have a blog or don’t have time to blog, you can tweet with the hashtag #libday6, take photos for the Flickr page or just jot some notes – whatever you can. Anyone who would like to post their Cataloguer Day in the Life as a guest post here should just get in touch with us (contact details above).

This is a great opportunity to talk to our peers and our colleagues about what we do!