Cataloguers’ Picks Reading Lists

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.

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3 Comments

Filed under Access Issues, In the Cataloguing Department, The Cataloguer, The Library Catalogue

3 responses to “Cataloguers’ Picks Reading Lists

  1. Bobby Bothmann

    I would like to hear more about the criteria you use for staff selection of books.

  2. Kelly

    That’s such a cool idea…

  3. Laurel Tarulli

    Hi Kelly – we’re having a lot of fun doing this! And, it’s really bridging the gap between the cataloguing department and the public. My real hope is to implement a social catalogue shortly. This is getting the cataloguing department into the whole social mindset. And, it exposes them to the possibility of adding more than just the standard descriptive information into bib records.

    Bobby – thanks for asking that. It’s a difficult question to answer. Taking a page from the Readers Advisory Team (and as a member myself), this is another way to help patrons discover items throughout the library that may interest them, but that they may never have found on their own.

    I can give you an example of how this is working. With the holiday season around the corner, we have several lists. They are “Holiday Cheer” (which is all about entertaining during the season), “Holiday Romance” and “Gift Ideas”. With these topics, I’ve encouraged our cataloguers to think outside the box. In other words, I don’t want popular, mainstream items that can be found on the end of any shelf in the supermarket. In the entertaining list, I’ve encouraged CDs to be added that can be played in the backround during holiday parties, recipe books and seasonal decorating ideas. They base their choices, to a large extent, on what they see coming through the cataloguing department – what has holds and what doesn’t. That provides them with a good idea as to what patrons are looking for.

    Once the the suggestions are listed on our wiki, I go in to the records and look at circ stats, copy/holdings information and quality of the record. Many times, the cataloguers have already cleaned up the record, if necessary.

    So far, we’ve had positive feedback from our choices. I was very impressed with their choices for Remembrance Day (similar to Veteran’s Day). Their knowledge of the collection allowed them to seek out Canadian authors and British authors whose works really reflected the topic. Also, given each cataloguer’s area of expertise, the variety of items on the list are incredible.

    Does this explain our criteria? Do you have any specific questions about this?

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