Monday, 20 December 2010

CIG Conference 2010

A little while ago (well, 3 months ago, to be exact!) I attended the CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group annual conference in Exeter.

I have to confess, the last one of these I went to was in 2000, when it was held in the Green Dragon Hotel in Hereford - very handy as I was able to stay with relatives who lived very close by. That particular conference was quite interesting and discussed issues like tele-working and practical indexing. This latest conference, however, covered a very much wider range of topics, from standards (MARC21, RDA, LCSH etc.) through good practice (name headings and lean workflows), to old chestnuts (retrospective cataloguing), and newer ideas (OERs, digital preservation).

The range of speakers was super, each with their own specialities and delivery styles, so what with the broad range of subjects on offer, there really was something for everyone!

One of the most exciting parts for me was to be able to meet other cataloguers, people I had almost forgotten existed; how wonderful it was to hear others wax lyrical about things that were dear to my heart, where normally I would be regarded as being a bit odd by my colleagues!

It was recognised at the conference that the economic climate was not looking encouraging, hence the sessions on lean workflows and getting the most out of resources. The idea of sharing cataloguing record creation, using the best knowledge of all cataloguers to add LCSH and the idea of sharing the updating of name headings were all things that were welcomed by the group.

The presentations from the conference are available from the CIG conference registration site if you are interested enough to want to have a look.

Next conference will be at the CILIP Umbrella Conference in July 2011.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Where have I been all this time?


I can't believe four months have passed since I last blogged - it seems like yesterday. Actually, to be truthful, I wasn't sure what I was sharing with you and why, so I let things slip for a while. But, in the process of seeing what else is going on in the world of cataloguing, I remembered I had a blog (!) and thought I might use it again, especially as I discovered that there were more detailed stats available than I had realised and I was astonished to see that the blog had been looked at 158 times in November! That's not to say that anyone found anything of either use or interest, but it's fascinating to realise that you're not writing in a vacuum!

So, over the last four months I've been to the Cataloguing and Indexing Group conference, I've been continually updating my cataloguers' wiki, I've been reading up about all sorts of cataloguing issues, and updating the56things wiki - to the67things wiki. However, I've not done anything towards revalidation. Oh, and I've been tweeting a bit more than usual (although, again, usually trite messages about things, nothing serious) and reluctantly joined facebook - for personal use rather than work though. All these things have eaten away at my time! On the personal front I've been doing a lot of family history research for various friends and family - not that you wanted to know that - but it is so exciting that the 1911 census is finally going to be available on ancestry (as I have a subscription) so I don't have to pay-per-view on findmypast!

Anyway, that's enough for one day. I shall return within the week to tell you of my experience at the CIG conference.

Bye for now!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Post-holiday blues!

I feel re-validation work to be the order of the week! But first I must catch up with the CILIP linkedin group, Twitter, Yammer, my cataloguers' wiki, my email - oh, and I mustn't forget to talk to the team!!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Public libraries

Apart from when I was rather young and had a fascination with the catalogue cards in my small, local public library, I have never really made much use of them. Given the recent KPMG report, I began to consider why public libraries have not attracted my custom in a way one would expect of a librarian.

First and foremost, I am scatty and forgetful! How many times have I taken out a book only to return it 6 months later (unread, of course) and incurred horrendous library fines?! Several times, I'm afraid, so it really isn't safe for me to borrow things!

Secondly, I now realise I am a hoarder! Why borrow something that I have to give back, when what I actually want to do is buy a book and keep it forever!

Finally, I am a slow reader, but impatient to get my hands on the latest piece of chick-lit by my favourite auhtors (favourite because their work is easily and quickly read!). So, long waiting lists for new novels doesn't appeal to me, nor either is the loan period generally long enough, and as I said above I'll forget to take it back!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Cats, whiskers and fiendish plots!

I've been thinking about figures a lot lately and I've been putting a lot of figures into a spreadsheet and fiddling with them! I was never very good at maths at school, and it has only just occurred to me, since my daughter has been doing her GCSE statistics coursework, that what I have actually been doing over the years, in a very amateurish way, is generating statistics - on an allbeit basic level!

Cataloguing is one area of information work that is fairly easy to quantify, and if you collect, collate and analyse the right kind of data, you could be helping to provide anything from an efficient acquisition process, to justifying the employment of your staff.

I err on the side of collecting anything and everything because, while you may not have a use for all of it now, someone may ask you a question one day that can be easily answered if you have collected the raw data. Besides, how long does it take to record a few five-bar gates?

As I have only just cottoned on to the fact that I am dealing with statistics, I have been using Microsoft Excel to record data and produce very basic graphs, as well as doing a lot of calculations by hand because I'm not that familiar with Excel and haven't really got time to learn! However, now that I know that there is a name for what I am doing, I may well look into statistics in a bit more detail, maybe dip into a book or two (Statistics for dummies, perhaps?). Who knows, I might find it useful to find out about SPSS, or do a formal qualification!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Routes to librarianship

My Route to Librarianship

Ok, let’s be honest about this; I always wanted to be a musician and librarianship was a second choice career! There! I’ve said it now; it’s out in the open, so now I can move on!

In retrospect, however, I can’t understand why I was side-tracked by the idea of a career in music, as the signs pointing me in the direction of library work were all there from the time I was about 6, unless every child used to create Browne issue cards for their friends and issue slips for their books, and then lend out their books to their friends!

Then, when I was about 7 my mother took me to what was then the college of Education Library in Cambrian House. What a treasure-trove that was, but maybe I was side-tracked by the excitement of finding the piano music for Tommy Steele’s Little White Bull on the shelves! Next came an introduction to the local public library. We lived in a small Welsh town so the library was only open a few days each week, and shared a space with the local secondary school. What a treat that was, pretending to be grown-up, going through the school gates and then rushing off to the library.

My mother introduced me to the librarian who showed me how to use the catalogue cards. This must have been a fairly forward-looking, or a newish library, as the catalogue drawers were the modern, light pine coloured ones, the smell of which still haunts me today. The joy I experienced when looking through the cards and then being able to find the books listed on the cards on the actual library shelves was immense, and my skill at using them led me to read the most unsuitable literature I could find, while by-passing the traditional children’s stories!

Moving from Wales to England at the age of 16 was, to say the least, a bit of a culture shock, and I only felt comfortable behind the issue desk of the school library, or when shelving the books that other kids had returned. It was during this time that I realised that becoming a musician was a dream rather than a career, and so it was that I decided to go for librarianship. The careers advisor strongly advocated that if I knew I wanted to be a librarian then I should go the quickest route and study librarianship. This may be the one decision of my life that I sometimes wonder about; would there have been more open doors if I had done a different degree first and then done a Masters in librarianship? Well, who knows! I’ve certainly been lucky and happy in my career to date, so I probably took the best option anyway. But music was never far away; I studied music as a subsidiary subject, and persuaded the university to let me carry on with this instead of a librarianship options in the final year, and I also studied music librarianship as one of my other options! Despite this, I didn’t go down the music librarian route as I chose to limit myself to a specific geographical location.

After a couple of work placements in libraries (first a public library and then a college of education library) my first proper job was as a Retrospective Cataloguing Supervisor for a public library, converting their records from a card catalogue to machine-readable form, using BLCMP batch forms, and re-classifying to whatever was the current edition of Dewey. Hah, hah, this should have told me something too!

This first job lasted nearly 2 and a-half years and taught me so much. Then I moved to a pharmaceutical library, where I learnt a different set of skills, ranging from helping users, developing guidance leaflets for users, to ordering books and helping to develop an in-house automated library management system. Although I enjoyed this varied work and the journey to work was ten minutes on a bicycle, this was at a time when the Animal Liberation Front were very active, and I became worried for my own and my family’s safety, and so I looked for a job elsewhere and was lucky enough to end up where I am today, 24 years later! Having spent some time as the Lending Services Manager, I am now the Bibliographic Services Team Manager – looking after, amongst other things, cataloguers who are currently embarking on a re-classification project!

I wonder what the future holds for me?

Monday, 8 February 2010


RDA. Now there's a standard! The year I entered university to study librarianship, was a big one! Not because I was studying to become a librarian, but because 1978 saw the release of AACR (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules). So, there was a new standard, and we were new, enthusiastic students, eager to learn, and so absorbed AACR as though it were water and we were sponges.

Actually, truth to tell, I probably didn't know it was new and revloutionary until about 1984 when I was cataloguing books for a special library who had no idea about cataloguing standards, so were keen to use my knowledge of AACR.

Since that time, of course, I've spent many a happy year using AACR and its updates, and am intimately familiar with most of it! Now, though, I find that after 32 years of AACR there is going to be a new standard released, and I am going to have to change the habits of a lifetime!

So this is what the last three or four years have been about. I've been playing with blogs and wikis, with Yammer and Twitter, recently joined Facebook and linkedin, getting used to changing the way I do things, so that when RDA is finally released it will just be one more new thing for me to learn, not the major obstacle that it could be.

At least, that's what I'm currently thinking ...

Thursday, 7 January 2010

New year: New plans

I find it is only when I have a break from work that I realise how stressed I've been! Three weeks of festive fun, food and friends has been quite restorative; only one problem - what was I doing at the end of 2009?

What to pick up on this year? The future of cataloguers? The new generation OPACs? CILIP re-validation? Library Routes Project? The latest technical innovation? Or should I just be looking for a career change, given the uncertainty in universities at the moment? All hot topics in 2009, and somehow I think they will continue to be, well into 2010.