We’re trying a new project here at Halifax Public Libraries. The cataloguers are creating booklists based on set criteria, set out and reviewed by myself or my supervisor, for placement on our catalogue’s main page. The topics tend to be timely, reflect the collection as they experience it through cataloguing, and largely reflect the items being suggested by patrons.
In my view, cataloguers are intimate with their library’s collection, so why aren’t we creating more booklists? We experience first-hand the items that are the most popular and in the highest demand. We are also aware of the excellent books and other materials that pass through the system unnoticed.
This project was started in October and I’m already seeing a positive change in our department. The cataloguers are taking on a role that forces them to think about what patrons want, and in what format. They are also paying even closer attention to our collection, and the Readers Advisory aspect of cataloguing. Should we judge a book by its cover? recommend new materials discussing the economy? the election? Given our ability to search the catalogue, this is also allowing us to pull up older materials that remain staples in our collection, but may be under circulated. It also allows us to flush out records that are poor regarding access points and assign our newer, narrative non-fiction genres when applicable.
On a technical side, we’ve also implemented the use of our wiki in this project. As lists are proposed and titles are added, they are stored and contributed to on the wiki. This allows the cataloguers to see what has already been chosen and to fill in the gaps. It has also created an excitement in that cataloguers are interacting with the patrons.