Reflections and Feedback: RA and the Library Catalogue Audio Conference

The relief that the audio conference is over is immense.  I like speaking in front of people, not through a phone where I can’t feed off their energy.  I also found it difficult because I did not know if the attendees had slides, or who my audience was.  Were they mainly cataloguers? RAs?  Without knowing who is attending, it is difficult to go beyond an introduction of ideas, to really just present the surface layer of a detailed and challenging topic.  Should I have delved further into the logistics, problems and actual steps to implement the ideas I was presenting on surrounding collaboration between frontline staff and catalogues (rather than just introducing this topic, exploring a bit into why I’m exploring it and some ideas as to how to do this)?  That’s hard to do in 45 minutes, not knowing if your attendees have access to your slides, or what area of librarianship they practice.

Despite the challenges and considerations that had to be made because of the unknown, I felt good about the presentation.  Would I do it again?  Yes, I think I would.   As for feedback about the presentation, there were several comments regarding the pace/style.  While the majority indicated pacing was good and they felt that the presentation was engaging, I had one comment indicate that it was clear I was reading from a script, and therefore it was a bit monotonous at times.  Good points, all.  I don’t mind constructive criticism and a lot has to do with the level of interest in the topic or personal preference.  But it is something I’m going to keep in mind for the future.

I also had several comments asking for specific examples that go along with my ideas, including libraries doing this.  So, I’m providing a list at the end of this post of library catalogues that should be explored for their use of social features and RA potential.

However, I would like to share a comment with you that, as cataloguers (and RAs too) I thought you’d be interested in:

“…we are familiar with social features for the online catalogue. I thought the discussion of changing expectations for RA service was good, but not the discussion of “community” – as if all library users have similar reading interests, or even want to “share”. Also, the idea of collaboration with cataloguers seemed a bit naive, given that MOST library cataloguing is outsourced or “copy cataloguing“. [Emphasis added]

Catalogues to check out:
Queen’s Borough Public Library
Streaming cover art, popular/recommended book lists seamlessly linked with their catalogue, AquaBrowser.  Examples of adding tags, reviews, or ratings as well as faceted navigation.

Oxford County Library
Example of library catalogue using NoveList Select, which provides recommended/suggested titles within bibliographic records. Try a search on the popular book title Shutter Island.

Halifax Public Libraries
Use of Narrative Nonfiction subject heading sub-genres – memoirs, true adventure, reporting, microhistory and so on.

Use of annotated summaries created by RAs (see the link below, If you like Christopher Moore…)

Use of linkable lists within the catalogue created by RAs.  For example, “If you like Christopher Moore…”

Use of linked live author readings and talks in the catalogue.  Try What they wanted, by Donna Morrisey, or No great mischief by Alistair MacLeod.

Halifax Public Libraries, The Reader Blog
Example of books linking back into the library catalogue



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

6 responses to “Reflections and Feedback: RA and the Library Catalogue Audio Conference

  1. LynneW

    Hi Laurel,

    Great reflections, especially for those of us not privileged to experience your presentation for ourselves! Thank you.

    And I was especially intrigued by your Halifax Public Libraries examples of annotated summaries and linkable lists created by RAs. I’d love to do something similar in our catalogue, especially since we’ve now lost access to NoveList. Any considerations we should be aware of?

    We’ve done some annotated summaries, but I am not sure how cost-effective they are in the long run. Do you find they add significant value to the patron experience?

    Re: the linkable lists. Can you put me in touch with someone of whom I can ask specific questions? I see from the MARC record that it’s a 449 field but am not sure how you made it linkable. Also, I’m not sure what indicators you’re using for that field as they don’t show up when I view the MARC display.


  2. LynneW

    Update: I see the indicators in other fields now, it was a spacing-display issue. Evidently there aren’t any indicators for the 449?

  3. Laurel Tarulli

    Hi Lynne,
    You’ve caught me a bit under the weather. Yes, we use the 449 tag – and it’s just a $a but with no indicators. In my experience, most libraries use this tag to create linkable lists, although you’ll have to check with you IT team/catalogue manager to see if this will work in your system. What ILS do you have?

    The feedback from the linkable lists has been extremely popular. (Disclaimer: I mostly hear it from staff because I’m not on the frontlines) As for the annotated summaries – I’m not sure if they are as popular. In my opinion they are useful if they are included in the titles you add to a list because it creates a clear indication of relevance/appeal, rather than the user trying to figure out why the lists contains those specific titles. I do think we could do better with our annotated summaries (appeals language in particular). As for time – we don’t create annotated summaries for all of our lists, just the RA focussed ones. In the end, if our staff are taking the time to create lists, they should have a justification as to why they are adding the titles to that list, so a summary shouldn’t be too difficult.

    On the cataloguing side, since we’re visiting the bib records for the titles to create a 449 tag for the list, it’s a matter of cutting and pasting the summary in, so there isn’t a lot of time on our end. I do, however, like advanced notice, just because it’s nice to schedule the work in, rather than being hit with a bunch of lists with a short deadline to work in! 😉

    If you are no longer using NoveList, I would definitely encourage annotated summaries and lists – they are a resource for staff as well as patrons. You can also do a quick survey/study of staff or patrons to get some feedback.

    Also, I’m the one in charge of creating the lists in the catalogue as well as inserting the annotated summaries, so feel free to ask any questions you have! If I can’t answer them, I’ll ask around to get answers.

  4. LynneW

    And so it begins … my library vendor sees the potential value in your linkable 449 innovation and is now working on ways to implement it for their customers.

    TLC says they will test an HTML option for me (since I’m on an earlier version) and will submit an enhancement request for the current version.

    Thanks so much, Laurel!!!

  5. Laurel Tarulli

    Lynne- that’s excellent! Please let me know how it goes.

  6. Pingback: Success Story: In-House RA Reading Lists in the Library Catalogue « The Cataloguing Librarian

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