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?

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