Monday, 28 February 2011

Strategies for re-classification

Finally, as promised, a discussion on re-classification!

We all know that classification schemes need to change on a fairly regular basis in order to keep up with our ever-expanding knowledge, and remain a relevant way of organising the world's knowledge. Whether or not your library wants to keep up with these changes is, of course, a decision for each individual library service. There are a number of strategies that can be used to make the decision whether or not to re-classify and there are lots of different ways of going about it. Some of these issues are discussed in this paper.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Cataloguer or systems librarian?

I started my professional career as a cataloguer in a public library, supervising a team of library assistants on a programme of retrospective conversion - converting card records to computerised records. After a relatively brief foray into the world of special librarianship (which included helping the IT staff to design and build an automated library system), I took up a position as lending services manager in a busy academic library.

This being the early days of automated circulation, and before the days of the OPAC, the lending librarian was the closest thing we had to a systems librarian, so I was responsible, amongst other things, for loading mag tapes onto the Data General mainframe computer on a daily basis to back-up the issue transactions. Then, an OPAC was introduced and I found myself sharing the responisbility for the mainframe with the Chief Cataloguer.

Eventually, a full-time systems librarian was appointed, with responsiblity for the new computer labs we were introducing as well as for the library management system. I went off on maternity leave and came back as the Chief Cataloguer.

I suppose the point I'm getting to is that although I am a cataloguer, I became one such when automation was just taking off, and my relationship with the computers that have changed our lives so much was cemented by being in a position to look after a mainframe. I may have been daunted at first, but I've never been afraid of technology. I also recognise that times change and I must move with them or be left behind.

The systems librarian eventually pinched one of the cataloguers to be an IT type person, who to this day has responsibility for the library website, as well as looking after the libraray management system and helping to develop the library's discovery systems.

Without my background experience, it would have been easy for me to fill a traditional cataloguing role, slavishly following rules, hiding away from the library users and being the butt of subject librarians' jokes. As a cataloguer it is all too easy to forget that actually you are a very valuable asset to your library, that actually you have well-honed problem-solving skills, and you could well be unwittingly limiting your options.

Time to look up from your AACR, your Dewey, and your LMS and see what is going on around you. If you leave it too long, you will miss those exciting opportunities that are there for the grabbing.

Prompted by a couple of blogs:

What's the point?

High visibility cataloguing

Coming soon!

Been rather busy lately with things other than cataloguing, and on leave this week to boot!

Check back soon for an article on re-classification!