Monthly Archives: June 2009

Library Catalogues are no longer an inventory but a place, and a community

We made history in the RA world at APLA this year. For the first time outside of Ontario, an RA in a Day pre-conference session was held in Canada. I was able to speak at this conference in a presentation called Social Catalogues: Enriching Content that Enhances RA Services.

Social catalogues will play a vital role in promoting RA services in the future. It’s already happening. I believe that the future of the library catalogues will rest on whether we can become a place, rather than an inventory.

When we talk about RA services, we emphasize that true RA work cannot be accomplished without the trust of our readers. What about our silent reader? Our remote readers? What about our avid readers who wish they were librarians and want to share their reading suggestions? You won’t find these readers in the library asking our RAs for help, but you will find them in the library catalogue – at least, that’s where they should be. Right now, they are using social cataloguing sites like LibraryThing. But, I believe they are just waiting for us to catch up and when we do, what’s coming will be amazing.

When I presented at the pre-conference, I emphasized the movement toward social features in our library catalogues and the new face of the library catalogue. Much of what I discussed already exists to some extent, but much of what I discussed is what’s coming, or should be coming soon. There are so many ways we can explore social technology to create a community of trust among our readers through the library catalogue. That trust will bring RA work into our readers’ homes.

From the expressions on some of the attendees’ faces, I can certainly say I was met with skepticism as well as doubt. Many “traditionalists” either don’t want to believe or have a hard time believing that the library catalogue will ever be more than a static inventory. That’s unfortunate. However, many more librarians were eager to hear my ideas and what can be accomplished in the future, should RAs and cataloguers begin working together. I am assuming this by the smiles, nods and discussions I had later that day and throughout the rest of the conference.

For so long there has been a divide (okay, a gigantic chasm) between technical services and frontline services. But, I view RA services as another “backroom” service. Like cataloguing, many people don’t understand readers’ advisory services and as a result, they believe it’s “easy”, unimportant or grounded in common sense. After all, how hard is it to suggest a book for someone to read? That’s the same attitude that many professionals have directed toward cataloguing for many years. However, both cataloguing and RA services are growing and gaining popularity. The RA work that is occurring is new and fresh, as are the changes being made to the library catalogue. This is an opportunity and a possible collaboration that cannot be ignored.

To quote Karen Calhoun, “the future is so bright, we’ll have to wear shades.”



Filed under Discovery tool platforms, future of cataloguing, Social catalogue, The Library Catalogue

RDA: Call for examples

The highlight at APLA (for me) was Barbara Tillett’s presentation on FRBR and RDA. Given the feedback that I received from others who attended this session, I can also say that it was a highlight for many of them as well.

Barbara’s presentation was on RDA, with a twist. Not only did she explain RDA and FRBR in a way that made complete sense (and I’ve been to other RDA sessions), but she also touched on how this is something the entire profession needs to be paying attention to, not just cataloguers. This is interesting because, up until now, many librarians have brushed it aside as a cataloguing issue. Not so! How information is retrieved, what it will retrieve and how it is presented will all change. The relationship gathering is what really excites me. And, it should excite all librarians in and out of the cataloguing department.

For those of you who aren’t aware of it, RDA registries already exist on the web. So, in theory, you can start implementing RDA today.

What I really want to post here, however, are Barbara’s slides and handouts from her presentation. One of her handouts includes examples on RDA. She is looking for more – so I am putting the call out as well. If you know Barbara, please email her and give her your examples. If you have examples you’d like to share, please post them on this blog or send them to me and I will make sure she receives them.

If you look at my previous post on APLA, you’ll notice Dr. Louise Spiteri of Dalhousie also provided her thoughts on the session. I have to second everything she has to say. And, I am very happy to see that my colleagues throughout the Maritimes are very keen on RDA. So many of our colleagues are unable to attend the larger conferences due to economic constraints, however, Barbara’s willingness to attend APLA has accomplished what I had hoped – RDA and FRBR have been brought to Atlantic Canada and cataloguers have a renewed excitement toward what they do and are taking a proactive approach to their profession as a result of her visit.

We all have our moments of doubt and concern over what the future of cataloguing is bringing, but it a well thought out future, and one we can be excited about.

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Filed under Access Issues, future of cataloguing, The Cataloguer, The Library Catalogue

The New Face of the Library Catalogue?

Casey Bisson, co-author of the blog MaisonBisson, posted a suggested design of what Amazon (and perhaps our own catalogues) should or could look like in his new post Book Search Results vs. Users.  The design concept has been around since 2006 – and it’s only coming to most of our attention now.  Interesting.  From a Readers’ Advisory perspective (collaborating with cataloguers) this looks like it has the potential to be an awesome tool for our library readers.

Isn’t the future of our catalogues and the unlimited possibilities exciting?

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Filed under future of cataloguing, The Library Catalogue

APLA 2009: Halifax, Nova Scotia

The Atlantic Provinces Library Association Conference is taking place in Halifax, Nova Scotia this year.  At the pre-conference tomorrow, I’m presenting at the RA in a Day session.  This is exciting and a great opportunity for cataloguers.  I’m speaking on social catalogues and what impact social software and social catalogues have and will continue to have on Readers’ Advisory services.

To my knowledge, this is the first time a cataloguing component has been incorporated into one of these RA in a Day sessions.  To be able to discuss why our library catalogues should play a role in Readers’ Services (as well as how) is a great opportunity.  It’s not often we get to “sell” ourselves to frontline staff in an attempt to bridge the gap between backroom library services and frontline staff. 

APLA Thursday, June 11th through Saturday, June 13th

I would like to promote one session in particular that will be taking place on Thursday, June 11th. Barbara Tillett has been kind enough to come up to Halifax to speak to Atlantic library professionals about FRBR.  However, it isn’t just a tech services and cataloguing session.  Barbara has opened up her presentation and is gearing it toward branch staff too.  Basically, what does FRBR mean for reference librarians?  What about staff on the reference desk or the children’s librarian?  And, of course, what does it mean for cataloguers?

I think this is a great opportunity for all librarians and library technicians to really understand that the changes that are occuring in traditional cataloguing will impact the entire profession, not just cataloguers.

We are very fortunate to have a professional from Library of Congress, especially one of Barbara Tillett’s experience and knowledge, attend APLA and share her knowledge and expertise with us.  So – I urge all of you to attend!

For those of you looking for me at APLA

In addition to presenting at the pre-conference, I am convening Barbara Tillett’s session, as well as giving another presentation on Thursday morning (a repeat of my CLA presentation).  The last session I will be convening is When Tuples Sparql: Weaving the Semantic Web, which also takes place on Thursday.

I will be at the conference all day on Friday too, as well as attending the Banquet Friday night and the brunch Saturday morning.  I look forward to seeing some of you there!


Filed under Our Profession, Social catalogue, The Library Catalogue

Social Catalogues – Slides in a more compatible format

In my last blog post, I uploaded the Powerpoint slides in the .pptx format, which opens easily only if you have the latest Office 2007 package.  So, I’m posting them here in the 1997-2003 format for all to access. 

Social Cataloguing Site: Features and Implications for Cataloguing Practice and the Public Library Catalogue

Social Catalogues: The New Face of the Public Library Catalogue

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Filed under Discovery tool platforms, In the Cataloguing Department, Social catalogue, The Cataloguer, The Library Catalogue

CLA: Slides to the Social Catalogue Session

For those of you who are interested, here are the slides from the Social Cataloguing presentation that Dr. Louise Spiteri and I gave at CLA. 

Social Cataloguing Sites: Features and Implications for Cataloguing Practice and the Public Library Catalogue, presented by Dr. Louise Spiteri

Social Catalogues: The New Face of the Public Library Catalogue, presented by Laurel Tarulli

We welcome questions, comments, feedback and ideas!

*If you have trouble opening or accessing these slides, please contact me.

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Filed under Access Issues, Discovery tool platforms, In the Cataloguing Department, Social catalogue, The Library Catalogue

CLA – Final Thoughts

A couple of days have now passed since I gave my presentation.  With over 100 attendees, resulting in a standing room only audience, I was very excited to see the interest among other professionals in social catalogues.  I think it went really well and I enjoyed myself immensely.  The audience was attentive, no one was looking at their program or dozing off, and lots of people were looking on with interest, smiles and nods (while writing notes too!)

The drawback for me and Dr. Louise Spiteri, my co-presenter, was that we only had 1 hour to present.  As a result, we ran out of time to finish the presentation – a lesson on our part and unfortunate for our attendees, because we weren’t able to share all of our ideas about how to choose a social catalogue for their library or provide them with tools and ideas on how to introduce social features (mainly free features) into library catalogues.

The feedback and interest was overwhelmingly positive, so I will be posting my presentation as well as Dr. Spiteri’s on this blog shortly (I didn’t get home until 1:00 am this morning, but the slides are coming).  This will allow all of you, as well as those who attended, to view our slides and contact me and Louise with questions, ideas, or to share what you are doing in your library.

I have the opportunity to present this session again next Thursday, June 11th, at the APLA conference in Halifax.  Prior to giving this presentation, there are a few changes I will be making.

First, I think that I need to emphasize what we are doing right and what we excel at.  Talking with Louise, she stressed the importance of emphasizing what we do well while offering suggestions on improvements to our catalogue.  As always, we want to support these suggestions with evidence as to why we should even be considering putting the effort into these enhancements.  Louise’s research assists in this regard, as does OCLC’s new report: Online Catalogues: What Users and Librarians Want. Also, I will be trimming down my slides and presentation, focussing on ideas and examples so that I can finish in the scheduled time.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience at CLA this year.  It was great to meet other professionals across Canada and listen to what is happening in libraries throughout the country.  I feel re-charged, full of energy and excitement to jump back into work and focus on projects in my library. 

Now that I have one major presentation under my belt, I hope to do more!

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Filed under Discovery tool platforms, Social catalogue, The Library Catalogue