Focus Group: Educating cataloguers to fit our needs

This afternoon I’m heading off to a focus group meeting being held by the library tech program for one of our local community colleges.  They are holding this focus group for the express purpose of finding out what skills, personal characteristics, etc. that we seek when hiring cataloguers.  I’m extremely excited to participate in this brainstorming session.  I look forward to hearing about how their program works and what qualifications and characteristics the program itelf seeks to impress upon their students.   In essence, what educators feel are the necessary skills versus what professionals in the field are looking for.

The two questions that they have put to us in an effort to assist in brainstorming are:

1. What qualities and skills (job, personal, life, etc.)  would make a candidate the right fit for your library?  Why?

2. Consider – are those the same qualities you’ll want 10 years from now?  Will there also be others?  Why?

Feel free to provide me with your own comments and suggestions.  I’m really interested in knowing the core set of qualities as well as those that will differ from library to library.



Filed under future of cataloguing, Our Profession, The Cataloguer

4 responses to “Focus Group: Educating cataloguers to fit our needs

  1. 1. Ability to find things out that you don’t know. This includes: Knowledge of the cataloging tools and how to look things up in them; knowledge of the online forums where you can ask questions; a willingness to hunt for information and not just rely on being “trained.”
    2. The same ability and willingness to investigate and master the software applications that we all use to “do” cataloging– the ILS, OCLC, even managing your computer so you can find things. Not being afraid to click on a button to see what it does.
    3. Ability to explain things to other staff and write logical procedures– communication skills.
    4. Ability to see the big picture of the role of cataloging in the mission of the library and in helping people find what they are looking for.
    5. The basic “getting along with others” qualities that make a good colleague and co-worker.
    6. Enough intelligence and general education to figure out what a work is about even if you aren’t familiar with the field. Ability to relate the work to other similar works. Ability to write concise, grammatically correct notes to convey needed information. (You’d be surprised at how lacking this skill is.)
    7. Ability to understand the use of uniform titles and series treatment.

  2. Laurel Tarulli

    Thanks Patricia! I’m going through my notes to summarize what came out of the focus group and will be posting that within the next day or so. The qualities that you have indicated were also high on our priority lists.

    Our moderator was very interested in our opinions on professionalism and what makes a professional. Here’s a story she told us. In a previous focus group, one member expressed that a professional is someone who shouldn’t need to be told that her thong is showing when she bends over! I suppose that may be a very specific response, but it does seem to indicate a need for educating students about even obvious things!

    If you or your colleagues can think of anything else to contribute, I’d be extremely interested in hearing it. I should also mention that I am on the Library of Congress Task Force on Competencies and Education for Careers in Cataloging. So, I have a good opportunity to take our opinions and express them to a larger audience.

    One thing that did arise out of the focus group was behaviour based interviews. Although this doesn’t stem from the schools but ourselves, I’m curious if other libraries find this successful. Any thoughts?

  3. I just landed a job as a library cataloguer – and it’s not a job I’ve had before. I have an MA and BA in English, taught back in the 1970’s, and since then have worked at various administrative assitant type jobs including active duty military for 10 years. I guess the interview panel saw my potential, and I intend to learn the job and do it well. I will be reading your website frequently for ideas and maybe assistance. It was good to find you – via a google search, no less!

  4. Pingback: Focus Group: The Results « The Cataloguing Librarian

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