Monthly Archives: July 2009

The Changing World of Authority Control

For those of you who read my ALA posts, you’ll remember that I rushed off from a NoveList focus group over to the Hilton, eagerly anticipating the session Continuing the Conversation: A further exploration of the brave new world of metadata. Unfortunately, I not only arrived late, but couldn’t find the room.

However, Barbara Tillett was kind enough to send me her slides from that session. Enjoy!

Also, for those of you who missed the announcements when they made the rounds on the listservs, here are the links to the revised RDA background documents.

A number of RDA background documents have been updated in line with the final RDA text supplied to the co-publishers for the first release, including the element analysis and the FRBR and FRAD mappings.

The list of AACR2 changes has also been revised, and now includes a
comparison of AACR2 SMDs with RDA vocabularies.


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Filed under Authority Work, Conferences, future of cataloguing

Cataloguing Korean Materials

I just thought I’d share a Korean cataloguing resource.

I’ve been cataloguing a large quantity of Korean language materials lately and stumbled across HanBooks.  It’s a great resource and it’s really helped me when I’m doing original cataloguing (which is most of the time).

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Filed under Access Issues, Cataloguing tips

Resuscitating the catalogue: next generation strategies for keeping the catalogue relevant

Now that things have settled down after ALA, I’ve had a chance to go through the rest of my notes from the sessions at ALA. On Monday, July 12th, ALCTS hosted this session on keeping our catalogues relevant.

The panel for this session included Renee Register (OCLC), Beth Jefferson (Bibliocommons), David Flaxbart (University of Texas, Austin) and Ellen Safley (University of Texas, Dallas). Their slides should be available for viewing shortly.

After watching two shuttles (at 7:00 am) depart from the Hyatt, there was finally room for me on the third. As we rolled over to the 8:00 session at the convention centre, I was excited about this presentation. What new ideas will be presented? What are other libraries doing? What are the triumphs or disappointments they are facing? I was not disappointed.

When I arrived, the room was already quite full. By the time the session started, there were a large number of attendees, something I was very happy to see. Let’s hope some of them were frontline staff, as well as technical services professionals!

I’m going to outline the highlights of everyone’s presentation, emphasizing key points, and issues we should be thinking about. Much of what I’m outlining are my own thoughts, based on the presenters’ presentations, so for those of you who also attended, my notes and outline may differ from yours.

Renee Register (OCLC)
We should be thinking of the “catalogue as an experience”
• Think about catalogues in terms of metadata. How will our content evolve with the birth of next generation catalogues?

Is the catalogue dead?
• The catalogue is more present than ever. It is only our methods that are changing. There are more players in the metadata field. Especially in the electronic form.
• Amazon doesn’t create, they pull metadata from other sources to create the “mash-up” of information our patrons have become familiar with.
• **We need to create the ability for end-users to interact with our metadata.
• Because our catalogues are taken for granted (we do all the work but the work is not seen) our cataloguing and the catalogue is only noticed when the information is wrong, or doesn’t work right. There’s a level of expectation.

• Encouraging interoperability
• Homogenizing data
• Ability to re-mix and re-use metadata
• Create neutral formats for seamless sharing from a variety of sources
• Capitalize on our strengths of metadata contributors
• *Participate in the exchange of metadata

Beth Jefferson

Beth Jefferson (Bibliocommons)
Although I hadn’t met Beth until this conference, I am familiar with her work and Bibliocommons. It’s a popular new social discovery tool in Canada, which is gaining a certain amount of attention. If you’d like to see an example of BiblioCommons, see the Oakville Public Library Catalogue.

Beth’s presentation focussed primarily on public library catalogues. She began by saying it is not a matter of resuscitating our catalogue, but of re-thinking the possibilities of our public catalogue and what it can do.

Rethinking the public library catalogue
• We’ve missed a generation of technology. While we are only starting to introduce tagging, new technology is already moving beyond this.
• Less is more. We have a habit of loading down our catalogues with information, rather than remembering our purpose – helping to narrow down our users’ searches to get less.
• We need to consider precision vs. recall. It matters with facets. From what I gathered from Beth’s comments, Bibliocommons has created two levels of searching. The first searches only title, author and subject. The second searches all indexed content.
• Catalogues are meant to enable discovery. Many users are searching by format first, then audience, etc. How are our catalogues coping with this?

What users traditionally did in the physical library we need to recreate and automate in the library catalogue. How do we mirror this search/behaviour in our OPACs? Let’s consider or watch how our users browse and search in the physical library. They look at our shelving carts for popular reading ideas (if someone else just took it out, it must be good). They look at covers and books they’ve read reviews about. So, why don’t we create widgets that reflect recently reviewed or returned items? Why not add cover art that can be browsed?

What I really enjoyed about Beth’s presentation is that she has some of the same ideas and interests as me. When pushing the catalogue beyond our familiar boundaries, she too is an advocate of introducing discussion forums into the catalogue, as well as the ability for users to respond to comments/reviews about items. Like social networking sites, why not connect our users to each other? Perhaps we should add the ability to “follow” other readers comments and reading suggestions. Like in facebook, we can provide a forum where users can “trust” one another for reading suggestions and allow for them to send messages to each other. This goes beyond what we think about the catalogue today. It goes beyond tagging, even. This allows a new level of interaction and brings me back to my own vision – that a catalogue is a place, not just an inventory. It’s great to see a vendor taking the same view.

Making the catalogue practical and personal
• Allow users to control their account activity
• Users want to manage and personalize their accounts. They want to create usernames (rather than using a barcode) and many users want to keep track of “their stuff”, which may include writing personalized annotations about books they like or have read. This will allow them to refer to their account for future reading ideas, or assisting in suggestion reading ideas to the online catalogue community.

One catch phrase Beth used that I really liked is “Using collections to build connections”. Our collections are in the catalogue, let’s enable our users to really use our collections to connect with eachother.

David Flabart and Ellen Safley discussed their experiences implementing new catalogues in academic libraries. David’s library only recently implemented Innovative Interfaces (purchased in 2005, implemented in 2007). David walked us through his library’s experience, including the need for setting early goals (for example, customization was key on their list). While they created customized search examples, icons and external linking, he also spoke of the challenges academic libraries face, as opposed to public libraries. Academic libraries have two very different users: students and professors. They have different needs, wants and expectations. This difference goes beyond public library vs. academic library, but user “class” differences. Professors want reviews from colleagues, not their students and students expect a certain level of service based on their tuition fees.

Ellen had a great line that I wanted to quote. “If people don’t need to learn how to use Google or Amazon, why do we make our catalogues so difficult that we have to offer training?” That’s an excellent point. She offered the following in her presentation:

• To find, NOT search
• Lose the professional jargon in the catalogue – for example, “holdings”, acronyms and so on.
• Make it simple
• Make options more visible (facets)
• Boolean is out – let’s give users one single search box.

I think that all of the speakers made some excellent points. Next generation catalogues are about building community and allowing users to participate as much or as little as they want – just as they do in our physical library community. We should be looking into ways to maximize on our users wants, needs and expertise. Mining this social data will allow a new level of discovery in our catalogues. With the inevitable implementation of RDA and the relationship mapping that we are starting to build upon, we are going to see changes in cataloguing practices and they should allow us to grow with our user community. I hope that the attendees who were at this session walked away with ideas and an understanding that the catalogue can change – if we’re not afraid to let it.


Filed under Conferences, Discovery tool platforms, future of cataloguing, In the Cataloguing Department, Social catalogue, The Library Catalogue

ALA in Photos

I took some snap shots at ALA. Some of the photos below include the convention centre and photos of the ALCTS award ceremony.

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ALA: Saturday July 11th

Yesterday morning, I made my way over to the Hyatt for an EBSCO focus group.  We’re looking at ideas for a new version of NoveList.  I found the entire morning incredibly enjoyable, met some very knowledgeable professionals and came away with new perspectives and ideas on my own thoughts about databases, sites we use as “tools” and the amount of content we can invite users to contribute.  I hope to continue working with NoveList through participation in this focus group and contributing my ideas from a catalogue perspective – what works, what doesn’t, what the literature says and how we can push the bar to a higher level, taking NoveList beyond what other professionals thought possible.  From my understanding of the company, and having met Duncan Smith and spoken with him, it seems as if they are a company that is keen on new ideas, pushing the envelope and, to a reasonable degree, taking chances on innovative ideas. 

After the focus group, I had to (unfortunately) rush off to the Hilton for the session Continuing the Conversation: A further exploration of the brave new world of metadata.  To my dismay, I reach the Hilton after the session started – and lost the location!  So, after having searched frantically for the room and asked countless librarians, I gave up hope.  However, there was a light.

I met Barbara Tillett for lunch and told her about my missed session, expressing my dissapointment.  It turns out that Barbrara presented at this session, so although I missed it, I’ll be able to not only get the slides, but ask questions that I have.  That’s good, because it was one of the sessions I was really looking forward to.

After lunch, we thought we’d grab the very *quick* shuttle over to the convention centre.  No so!  The line was incredibly long.  Three buses later, and after about a 45 minute wait, we were off.  Barbara and I arrived late to the RDA session, getting in during the middle of the RDA demo.  This session was largely geared toward creating an awareness of what is coming, the tools that will be available to help us and that RDA will not only impact cataloguers, but all staff and, in the end, our users.  This is the same idea we presented at APLA this past June, when Barbara came to Halifax.  FRBR and RDA have, up until this point, been largely ignored by the library community because it’s been considered a cataloguing issue.  But now that it is a reality, we need to pass on to our non-cataloguing colleagues that they need to see the relevance of RDA in their own jobs.  We have our work cut out for us.

During a break in the session, Barbara and I ran through the exhibits.  Wow.  I can’t believe the amount of vendors!  I’m hoping to get back to the stacks, however, taking more time to talk with vendors I work with and picking up some literature on new products. However, given that this is my first ALA, it’s certainly nice to have someone around to help me find my way or answer questions about how shuttles work.

And now, it’s a new day.  I’m having lunch with Keith Powell, who chaired the Esther J. Piercy award committee and then, possible going to the Ex Libris session (although I’m still debating this).  And tonight – the award ceremony.

In the meantime, here are some photos I took while out and about in Chicago.  I’m going to try and get some of the stacks and conference today.

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Filed under Conferences, future of cataloguing, Our Profession

ALA: Hot and Humid

Maybe it’s because I live in Nova Scotia, but it is hot and humid in Chicago.  I’m lovin’ it!

I just got back from the Satellite Registration at the Hyatt.  Unfortunately, they have already run out of bags and badge holders.  So, tomorrow I’ll have to pick those up at the convention centre.  Tonight, however, I’m looking forward to my dinner cruise with the NoveList crowd.  If the weather continues to stay warm and the rain holds off, it will be a beautiful evening out on the lake.

My first impression of this conference is extremely positive.  It doesn’t hurt that librarians are all so friendly that even when you’re in a crowd of strangers, you feel strangely at home.  I shared an airport shutte into downtown with a great batch of friendly and chatty librarians.  Looks like we’re all in for a good time!

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ALA: Chicago 2009

While many of my colleagues are already arriving in Chicago, I’ll be arriving tomorrow afternoon.  It’s my first ALA conference and, I’m told, the Chicago ones are always exciting and enjoyed by all.

While I’m there, I will be blogging about my experience as well as the sessions I attend.  This is what my schedule looks like:

Saturday, July 11th
8:00 – 10:00
EP NoveList Focus Group
10:30 – 12:00
Continuing the Conversation: A Further Exploration of the Brave New World of Metadata
1:30 – 5:30
Look Before You Leap: Taking RDA for a Test Drive

Sunday, July 12th
1:30 – 3:00
Ex Libris Primo: Redifining what it means to be “at the library” (*however, there’s also an RA session of interest at this time too)

5:30 – 7:00
ALCTS Awards Ceremony (this is where I will receive the Esther J. Piercy award!). What an honour.

Monday, July 13th
8:00 – 10:00
Resuscitating the Catalog: Next-Generation Strategies for Keeping the Catalogue Relevant.

5:00 – 6:30
Cokie Roberts – speaker series (*tenative)

For the rest of the time, I’ll be wandering through the exhibits, meeting with friends and hopefully, touring around Chicago. I hope to see some of you there!

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