Monthly Archives: January 2009

Library of Congress Announces Study of Bibliographic Record Publication

For those of you who haven’t seen this announcement yet (I know it’s been posted on quite a few blogs and listservs) :

The Library of Congress today announced the next phase of its

investigation into the creation and distribution of bibliographic data in U.S. and Canadian libraries. The Library has commissioned a study to research and describe the current marketplace for cataloging records in the MARC format, with primary focus on the economics of current practices, including existing incentives and barriers to both contribution and availability. The study will be carried out by R2 Consulting LLC of Contoocook, N.H.


The Library has recognized that its role as a producer of bibliographic data is changing and that other libraries have options as they consider sources for cataloging records. The conclusions outlined in a report issued last year, “On the Record: Report of the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control,” indicate that cataloging activity must be shared more broadly and equitably among all libraries. Before the Library considers any changes to its cataloging commitments or priorities, however, it is vital to understand the extent to which other libraries rely on its contributions. The study will examine  cataloging production and practice across all library types, including cooperative activity through OCLC, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), the National Library of Medicine, the National Agricultural Library, library consortia, and other shared cataloging initiatives.


Under the general direction of Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress, R2 will develop a description of the current economic model and will determine the extent of library participation in and reliance on existing structures and organizations. The study will show the degree to which sources other than the Library of Congress are supplying quality records in economically sufficient quantities, or whether most libraries use records created by the Library. This project is oriented toward fact-finding and reporting rather than solutions, and it is intended to produce a snapshot of the existing market. The project is scheduled for completion by June 30, 2009, with a written report and visual representation of the existing marketplace. Progress reports, along with various other data collection and communication tools, will be made available via the R2 Web site at and the Bibliographic Control Working Group site at


“I am very optimistic that the project will shed new light on the current cataloging supply and distribution environment,” Marcum said, “in such a way that future opportunities and challenges can be promptly identified and evaluated. I am hopeful that librarians and all other participants in the distribution chain will be as forthcoming as possible during the investigative process. Our intention is to understand as fully as possible both the economic and workflow implications for the U.S. and Canadian marketplace prior to implementing any changes at the Library.”


The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Founded in 1800, the Library seeks to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, which bring to bear the world’s knowledge in almost all of the world’s languages and America’s private sector intellectual and cultural creativity in almost all formats. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s Web sites and


R2 Consulting LLC was founded in 2000 by partners Rick Lugg and Ruth Fischer and specializes in selection-to-access workflow analysis and organizational redesign of academic libraries. The firm also participated in the “Economics and Organization of Bibliographic Data” session of the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control. R2’s primary professional interest is to help library organizations improve performance and adapt to the changing information environment.


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Filed under Access Issues, Authority Work, future of cataloguing, Our Profession

New Reader’s blog highlights the catalogue as an RA tool

I’m always looking for ways to further the relationship between the library catalogue and Readers’ Advisory services. I believe the catalogue is an important RA tool and cataloguers are key Readers’ Advisors.

This month, our library launched an RA blog called The Reader. It’s a public blog, created for patrons and staff. As a member of the core team at our library, I’m one of the contributors. Although The Reader isn’t a forum to push the importance of the catalogue as an RA tool to other Readers’ Advisors, it is an acknowledgement by our library and the rest of our team that my knowledge, and the catalogue, play an important role in RA services.

When I am writing posts for The Reader, I try to put myself in the place of a frustrated reader, just looking for something interesting to read. So, I promote existing lists in the catalogue and search strategies. I’m also trying to provide, in an interesting and fun way, subject headings and genre lists for fiction and non-fiction.

One of my recent drafts (which has not yet been posted) targets mystery readers. What if you’re a mystery reader just back from vacation and looking for something interesting to read? In this post, I provide a list of our mystery genre headings and ideas for searching. Then I provide examples as to how to combine a genre with a place or profession (or both). These examples link directly into our catalogue.

I’ve also drafted a post on narrative non-fiction. Here’s the short post:

What does “Salt: a world history” have to do with “The secret life of lobsters”? What about “Olives: the life and lore of a noble fruit” and “Chocolate: a bittersweet saga of dark and light”?

There are many books out there that explore the everyday life of “things”. The history of chocolate, salt, lobsters and olives are only a small example of ordinary “things” that are explored through anectodal stories and humorous accounts of controversy, hardship and the mundane in a genre we call “microhistory”. These histories are presented in a story format, for an easy read and full of interesting information.

If you enjoy reading about the ordinary in a far from ordinary way, you’ll enjoy our collection of books that fall under the microhistory genre in our library catalogue.

While our MARC records do not yet provide description for appeals such as the language of a book (fast-pasted, descriptive, etc.), I’m hopeful that this information is forthcoming, especially in RA created lists that exist in the catalogue.

It’s an interesting way of pushing the catalogue forward and working directly with patrons in a new way. I also feel that it’s pushing my limits and testing my knowledge of the catalogue and its potential.

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Filed under future of cataloguing, Social catalogue, The Cataloguer, The Library Catalogue

Esther J. Piercy Award

With the conclusion of ALA mid-winter (which I hope some day to attend!), announcements were made for book award winners and recognition awards. I was honoured to be the recipient of this year’s Esther J. Piercy Award.

I now have just the excuse to make it to the ALA conference this summer in Chicago. For the past two years I’ve made a lot of contacts via this blog, as well as through various committees and projects. I’m looking forward to making it down to Chicago and meeting many of you!


Filed under The Cataloguer

What do you think? Check out the newest web-based cataloguing tool!

Nicole Engard on her blog What I Learned Today…  announced the launch of a new web-based cataloguing tool.  I’ve been eagerly anticipating this announcement.  Way to go Nicole!  I’m definitely going to give it a try and provide some feedback. 

From Nicole’s announcement:

So, what the heck is it? ‡ is a web-based original and copy cataloging tool with built in federated search of any Z39.50 target (via an integrated search registry with over 2000 targets – or by adding your own) and a large (30 million strong) shared database of catalog records. This means that you can visit ‡ and benefit from the work of other catalogers who have gone before you. You can also edit and contribute to the database without any restrictions.

I’m looking for both novice and professional catalogers to give me their opinions of the tools, services and overall user friendliness of ‡ I am of course also looking for people to join the community so that this tool and grow and help us all with our cataloging work.

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Filed under Cataloguing tips, future of cataloguing, The Cataloguer

Our wiki celebrates it 1st anniversary

We celebrated the passing of our wiki’s  first anniversary by making it available to all Halifax Public Library staff.  We call the “public” side of our wiki, CataWiki. 

This has been a work in progress for over 8 months.  It began to take shape in my mind when our department continually received the same questions about the catalogue.  So, I began soliciting questions for a FAQ for our catalogue and our department.  For example, what constitutes a 3 day v. 7 day loan for feature DVDs? Why is there no item information in the public display of the catalogue but the staff side has the item information?  What items get what stickers? What do I do if I accidently delete an item from the catalogue? and so on. Rather than preparing a static document that would become outdated within weeks, I wanted a live document that could continue be used as a resource and always be in a constant state of improvement and growth.  And, as Oprah would say, that was my “Ahah” moment.  Why not put this FAQ on the wiki, where staff can bookmark it and refer to it.  They can even subscribe to an RSS feed on the wiki (this feature is forthcoming).

Of course, my immediate concern was security.  I have experience with a wiki on a public domain which was spammed beyond repair.  My concerns in that regard were put to rest at the inception of our wiki – which is housed on our local server and only available through the library’s intranet.  But what about keeping department information private and inaccessible to branch staff?  What about editing privileges?

So began my collaboration with our IT manager.  Brainstorming, we came up with the idea of two wikis – linked by providing a URL on each wiki.  The wiki with our department information, which includes minutes to meetings, project proposals and in-depth information on cataloguing practices, procedures and decisions was protected by a login page.  The login page prevents access to anyone who doesn’t have an approved account.  As the system operator of the wiki, I have final approval of the users and am able to block unwanted users or accounts from being created.  As a result, no one outside of our department can view or edit our department information. 

Once that security was in place and URLS were provided on each wiki for easy navigation between the two (for ease in editing for our department), I began protecting the “public” side of our wiki.  Again, while I wanted to make this information accessible to the branch staff, I didn’t want them to have editing privileges.  At this point, some of you may groan and say I’ve missed the point of the wiki.  Not at all.  I understanding the concept of collaborating and user-generated information.  But there are specific purposes for everything and in this case, our wiki is, in a way, a marketing tool to help us come out of the backroom.  It is a window into the cataloguing department which, I hope, will remove some of the mystique and negative attitudes often directed our way. 

Allowing all of the library staff access to our latest fiction genre headings, changes in subject heading usages and FAQ will provide staff with a glimpse into what cataloguers do.  It will also assist in providing staff with the knowledge to better use our catalogue, and as a result, better serve our patrons.  We’re also including access to lists that may be “hidden” in the catalogue when off season or if they’ve been popular in the past.  For instance, Best of lists, holiday lists or topical lists that we just don’t have room to feature on our catalogue will shortly become available for staff to view.  This will become an incredible resource for patrons because staff will be aware of lists that are generally forgotten about.  Each list will have a link directly into the catalogue so that staff can work directly with patrons to help them find items to borrow. 

Given that this launch only occured this past Monday, I’ll have more to report down the road.  However, the initial feedback has been incredibly positive.  I know there is still a long road (and perhaps a steep hill or two) to travel before this idea really takes off and the wiki is used to its full potential but, we have to start somewhere.


Filed under In the Cataloguing Department, The Cataloguer

Using Social Software to Build a Collection and Create a Community

Recently, a colleague of mine stumbled across North Cumberland Historical Society’s webpage while cataloguing.  Rather than a static website, they’ve decided to use Wetpaint, one of the many options for wikis.  I think this is a very clever idea.  What really grabbed my attention is that, right on the front page, they announce that this is a website that can be built together – by the community and the members of the historical society.

I’ve always been an active member in my local historical society, and I’ve found that while there is a plethora of knowledge among its members, there are others in the town who also have stories, knowledge and mementos that contribute to our town’s collective history.  By creating a website that allows the community to contribute to it, they have opened the historical society to the entire community.

Students can contribute while working on class projects, inviduals working on their family’s geneology, and citizens who remember the town as it was “back when” will have a venue for contributing to this website.

This is a terrific example of social software being used to build a community, and making it the community’s organization, rather than an organization for its members.  I applaud the historical society’s ability to let go of the reigns and loosen the control that many organizations have trouble with.

This same concept can easily be applied to our own library websites and catalogues.  And, I know that many of you are attempting to do just that.

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Filed under Discovery tool platforms, Social catalogue