SILS has a birthday, sans Deanna Marcum

October 31, 2006 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happy 75th to SILS at UNC-CH. I attended part of the festivities yesterday (why is this not included on their events page? hmph) to hear Deanna Marcum, the Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress, give the keynote presentation. Unfortunately, she was not there after all (last-minute funding committee meeting, apparently) and sent a substitute, Kathryn Mendenhall (who formerly ran the Cataloging Distribution Service at LC; she’s now the director of partnership and outreach, or something like that).

The talk was not terribly exciting but I did notice a few things. To paraphrase wildly: Blah blah, something about catalogs and how time-consuming they have been to create. “…blah blah user’s needs must take precedence over library practices.” Talk about users turning to Google instead of the OPAC. “Scientists in particular have made little use of our catalogs.” (um, maybe because they rely heavily on journal literature? and is this actually a problem? do you know whether scientists are in fact getting their information needs supplied just fine already, and the catalog should be focused on other things? or should we be working to make federated searching more robust?) Blah blah, new access structure of content, not just catalog information (not JUST….but this implies that there will STILL need to be catalog information). Why perpetuate in-house access, why not digitize everything? Well, whoo-hoo! What a great idea?

Kathryn Mendenhall says in this July 2004 interview:
“The Library invests hundreds of staff and tens of millions of dollars in the cataloging of materials. The cataloging workforce is aging. There are a limited number of new catalogers on the horizon. A metadata generation tool could potentially be used by catalogers to create metadata records from digital content submitted to the Library for pre-publication cataloging or for copyright deposit. In combination with the human processes that are required for the intellectual work of authority control and subject analysis, a tool for the automatic generation of metadata could increase cataloger productivity in the future.”

I wonder if there are real statistics out there showing that the cataloging workforce is aging…or is this part of the apparent myth that library school students were fed about the upcoming job bonanza in the field? Is the number of new catalogers really so limited? Limited to what?



October 31, 2006 at 2:08 pm | Posted in Holdings, tagging, Uncategorized, wikis | Leave a comment

Since we’re talking about using a wiki for local documentation in Tech Services, it’s very fortuitous that the book Wikis : tools for information work and collaboration just crossed my desk for cataloging. Here are a few snippets for me to consider if we move forward with a local wiki:

*Take a look at OCLC’s “User-contributed Content Pilot which enables WorldCat contributors to add additional information about their holdings.” Hmm.

*Also see the U. of Minnesota Libraries staff wiki .

*Hey, tagging can be used with wikis: seedwiki and Confluence engines both allow tagging.

Haves and have-nots

October 13, 2006 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wow it’s exciting when you finally remember how to log back into your blog.  Um, anyway…..a tidbit from Jessamyn West at made me think today:

“The localness of libraries is their charm but also has the potential to be their undoing. I took a friend for a drive returning library books yesterday (five libraries!) and the difference between the little library in the poorer town and the little library in the bigger town was striking to her, whereas I’m more used to it. We’ve seen legislators and the Department of Education step in and deal with some of this inequality when it happens to schools, whats our large scale solution when we see this sort of thing happening to libraries?”

A very interesting idea.  I wonder if it speaks to how the public (including politicians) view the value of the library–public education is acknowledged to be essential and there are still multiple attempts underway to equalize schools.  Perhaps the library is viewed as more of a luxury, a place where you go for entertainment (or, heaven knows, porn) and therefore it doesn’t matter if libraries in poor communities have fewer resources?  Which is too bad, because the library should be viewed as an essential institution for lifelong learning, access to technology (Jessamyn’s example of a patron using the library’s internet connection to fill out a job application for Home Depot is a good one), etc.

Or, if I were paranoid, I could say that the powers that be give more support for public education because its purpose is to mold good little consumers/workers/citizens, and libraries are less popular because they are by nature inclined to be egalitarian, eccentric, and a source of new ideas, and therefore dangerous in that it does not contribute to turning us all into sheeple.  I’m not sure I’m that paranoid but, hey, it provides fodder for any librarians who want to develop a martyr complex!

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