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Summary – 23rd February – Cataloguing and classification

1. What developments do you expect in cataloguing in the next few years?

  • RDA – this will make people think about how data is used and displayed
  • RDA – increased visibility will mean accuracy is vital & expect to find things with broad range of entry points
  • RDA – I think understanding how items relate to each other will be a main thing. Also the interfaces for eg: LMS many change
  • Hopefully RDA will help to create more access points for users. Sometimes feel a bit limited now
  • Yes that’s one of the benefits I’m going to highlight when I explain RDA to the rest of the library next week!
  • Suspect there’s very mixed feelings in the cataloguing world about RDA
  • Search expectations have already changed, e.g. social tagging.I suspect increased search means everything should be searchable!
  • True – you also need to understand why you’ve retrieved what you’ve retrieved to make it work better
  • Relevance of retrieval must still be important, rather than a whole noise of irrelevant stuff in search results
  • Integrated searching, 1 portal for all library resources, links to full text. But we still use card catalogue so not happening soon!
  • Feel a vague sense of uncertainty about RDA – still new to profession so want to get to grips with AACR2 first!
  • More collaboration between institutions, more records downloaded from publishers, probably fewer created in-house
  • As ‘traditional’ cataloguer am somewhat limited by what our LMS is capable of
  • Think cataloguing has been going thru major changes in all of the 14 years I’ve been doing it – this will continue
2. What relevance do traditional classification systems have for online resources?
  • Vital as (I hear) RDA is unstructured so need to use older structures
  • Well, e resources already catalogued “traditionally” at the moment, but this might not be best approach
  • They will provide structure and alternative browsing methods
  • Traditional systems may struggle with online scope, but same principles apply – consistency, consistency, consistency
  • Didn’t there used to be an online directory of electronic resources classified into Dewey? I don’t think it exists any more
  • If online resources are being searched via same interface as physical resources, then cat. rules must be same to ensure success

3. How can cataloguing and classification be applied to smaller collections?

  • Is that really “how” or should we ask a more fundamental question: could or should it be?
  • Same principles, surely? Make sure users can find & make best us of what we collate & curate? Size irrelevant – except for level of detail which may change
  • Cataloguing and classification is designed for any size collection, issue maybe more access to cataloguing software/systems and time/training?
  • Sometimes small industrial libs have more money for cataloguing resources (eg AACR, DDC schedules etc.) than big places
  • Level of detail depends on nature of collection but as has been said, principles are the same
  • Don’t think it matters about size as long as rules applied consistently
  • My church has a “library” (1 trolley) & what they need in terms of managing it is very different to my work
  • If smaller also means more specialised then by adapting local schemes to own needs
  • Maybe even more important to apply principles if collection is at risk of being chucked
  • If small size, may wish to outsource some record creation so adherence to standards every bit as important
  • We use Metropolitan Museum of Art class system for our art library. Interested to hear if anyone else has encountered it?

4. Do you think library schools should be teaching cat & class or is it best learned on the job?

  • Formal education really important for cataloguers, but shouldn’t be exclusively for cataloguers
  • Library schools *must* teach at least basics. Is a shocking problem that so few do. More need to copy UCL. But both
  • Yes! missed out on Aberystwyth distance course almost completely – on the job brilliant but have gaps in my knowledge
  • Think both avenues would be good mix. Some basic groundwork in degree, but lots of on the job training.
  • Think there’s a real need as part of library school. I have never got anything like that in any of my roles in libraries
  • Yes I do!!! It should be compulsory. But, cannot teach it all so on-job training also essential especially as things change
  • It should definitely be taught, but teaching would benefit from practical applications
  • Cataloguing needs to be learned in practical situations but good intro needed in library school
  • Seed of enthusiasm needs to be planted at library school – especially if no other exposure to cat thro work. Need to make it viable option
  • My library still does massive amount of in-house training, suspect many departments do: rare to get someone fully trained when employed
  • Need a background even if (like me) not a cataloguer. Obviously cataloguers need on job training too. Balance
  • Good to have the basics of why but important it is reinforced in workplace
  • Detail is always library specific, but basics and overview should be core part of professional education
  • Certainly should be taught. Library school should provide a broad grounding in all aspects of librarianship
  • It’s not just library schools that can vary in cataloguing quality – workplaces can also vary in how they view it/provide for it
  • Agree that exposure at lib school + as grad trainee are ways to demonstrate importance + possibly attract newcomers
  • Should be there simply as a crucial core part of our profession, even for those with no interest in catalofying as career.
  • I never did lib degree but worked as cataloguer and learnt on job, was much better than theory
  • yes, cat awareness needed for all library professionals, not just cataloguers
  • A very hard subject to learn dry – need practical approach to be effective
  • Need more practice at lib school though. Work experience students coming to us always ask to do cataloguing
  • Special Interest Groups/ARLIS great for doing more cost effective courses. The big CILIP course was too much
  • Without cataloguing training as part of degree I don’t think I would ever have learned its importance or investigated deeply
  • Cat & class still most useful thing I learned. Very specific knowledge – can learn lots of other stuff through doing


5. What developments do you expect in how library catalogues are presented to users?

  • Increasing tendency towards single search box copied from web search. features to support this. improved browsing experience.
  • Single search is a struggle for us. We use in house key subjects to filter
  • Catalogues already more amazon/google looking which I guess is what users expect. But still need advanced seach otherwise end up with “noise”
  • But how many users actually use advanced search? How can the catalogue interface do it on their behalf?
  • Interfaces will be much more like popular search engines to attract users who are used to only that
  • Simple search I think more used now than advanced search – perhaps suggestions as to what mean more common?
  • Agree web browser style interfaces likely to be what users start to expect/want
  • Hoping hard that we will stop calling it ‘advanced search’! Nobody wants to do anything that’s advanced!
  • We are updating our opac, might ask to substitute advanced search for ‘mega amazeballs search’ instead! N.B. Other suggestions included “extended search” and “detailed search.”
  • As long as we don’t lose old functionality as new ideas introduced to make them easier
  • Catalogue might become more invisible, something in background that users can reach via Google search.

6. Related to 5: how can we make catalogues & their content more “social”?

  • Allow more options for the (dreaded?) user tagging?
  • Is there any research that shows that user tagging is actually what users want? I have my doubts about tagging
  • Key steps I reckon are: 1) more seamless integration of “social” features, frictionless sharing & reuse is the way to go. 2) would like to see serious attempts to make catalogs a social “destination” where users feel some ownership of UGC
  • Think it’s important to find out how people are using the data – options to export as text message or email is good
  • I hate tagging but suspect because am just a weird throwback who likes hierarchical structures/browsing
  • Think what we’re offering isn’t great so far, so “not yet”. But we’re getting used to socialness on other sites
  • I think a feeling of ownership of [whatever content they add] is important to build social interaction
  • It’s hard to get people to participate in social areas where they aren’t already i.e. the library catalogue
  • Tagging can work quite well eg: course codes/lecturers’ names or terms such as ‘credit crunch’ for non LSH terms
  • Problem:too many different terms for same thing in user tags, cf. problem of users not knowing what terms we use
  • Tagging may be case of ‘what librarians think users want’. Think it could help in complex situations but not be relied on
  • Think it’s important not to ‘do social’ just for the sake of it. Find out what users want
  • Too much inconsistency to be relied on but could be useful add-on
  • Will mention social bits (QR, Pinterest, sharing buttons) on our catalogue: http://t.co/dU9VbviY
  • I really think leveraging a big database of user-generated stuff like LibraryThing for Libraries is the way to start.

7. What is the best way to get into cataloguing?

  • Wonder whether for some the question isn’t more ‘what’s the best way to get OUT of cataloguing’ (!)
  • For me was an afternoon a week cataloguing a collection that wouldn’t otherwise be done – no pay, but was taught and guided.  Advantage of voluntary experience – felt less pressure to do it quickly – could take time and concentrate on doing it right
  • Volunteering seems to be common route, or asking to shadow cataloguer in current workplace
  • I was lucky I did 1 day a week ‘secondment’ to cataloguing department to get experience. More about aptitude than experience at start
  • No idea about the “best” way, mine was shambrarianship plus interest in metadata plus willingness for self study. A *lot* of what I already knew snapped into focus (if that makes sense) during formal cat & class module in MSc though
  • Was lucky enough that it was part of early training which led to job in cataloguing department
  • First job = catalogue maintenance. Staring at catalogue records all day makes you absorb rules I think!
  • Started in kid’s school library. Then got job in academic slide lib doing image cataloguing. Moved to role cataloguing DVDs, then current post as cataloguer
  • Did basic cataloguing and grew curious

8. What is the best classification scheme for an academic library?

  • Is there one?
  • We use Dewey Decimal Classification, but no idea which is best. Definitely need to use established scheme though
  • Dewey has familiarity as used in public libraries but it all about how well students are made aware of how (and why) it works
  • For a “normal” academic library, are there suggestions beyond Library of Congress and Dewey? Personally get on best with Dewey
  • Used Bliss, Library of Congress, Universal Decimal Classification, home-grown – think all have there place, like Bliss personally
  • Personally, I loved Bliss!
  • Really like Library of Congress in my workplace academic library. Some sense to some of the letters: M Music. I like it being broken into letters & numbers
  • We have almost everything going in the various bits of my lib. Lots of Bliss, Library of Congress
  • We use in-house system so not really qualified to answer but would think whatever most user friendly (tall order!)
  • In-house is surely perfectly acceptable for universities who may have very specialised collections?
  • We are legal deposit so lots of confusion. Have to explain system to poor users daily!
  • Been on uni open days recently and surprised that HE libraries use different schemes in same library!
  • In our case partly different collections with different schemes brought together in one library
  • Thought we were somewhat unique using more than one scheme in same library, interesting to hear it happens more often than I realised
  • Using established scheme means more collaboration options but often bespoke schemes in place, especially smaller libraries
  • Weird classification schemes confession – always had a soft spot for Garside’s scheme (University of Leeds & UCL)
  • Dewey numbers can get too long and confusing, especially for dyslexic students (or whatever correct term is for numbers)
  • Depends on balancing ease of use for students over ease of use for eg: shelf ready – bespoke schemes can have their place too
  • I find Dewey harder to keep track of with extremely long numerical extensions. True Library Of Congress has long numbers too,but only in some places.
  • Depends how many bookks would be at shorter number-easier to find amongst lots of same or to understand long numbers?
  • I like Bliss – mix of letters and numbers and broken down into groups of three makes more memorable
  • Dewey would definitely be my 1st choice for a medium size & not-too-weird academic library
  • Bliss – I find it very unintuitive for finding things, lower case letters and numbers confuse
  • I like Library of Congress, find Dewey fails to meet needs if large or specialised collections – too many numbers
  • I like Library of Congress  but maybe because I’m most experienced in it (apart from various in-house schemes)
  • Dewey all the way! But, if I’m not being selfish, I would say probably both Dewey and Library of Congress -these seem to be most common

9. Anyone have experience of developing a structure/order for ephemera collections?

  • Depends if it is important to retain original structure/order (as in archives). Also whether collection is growing or finite
  • Also closed vs open access defines what approach you can take
  • The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera at the Bodleian will have lots of experience, as will Chelsea (College of Art?)
Other points made:
  • Museum libraries often require more specialised classification systems. We use 4 & do a lot of our own tweaking!
  • The way I pitch it is if it’s not catalogued correctly you may as well throw the item out of the window
  • I try & educate as I go in terms of benefit in greater visibility = greater times issued = value for money

A final thought:

“Just to say that good (consistent, standardised) catalogue records are FUNDAMENTAL to effective information retrieval!”

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This entry was posted on May 29, 2012 by in Discussion Summaries.

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