Monday, 14 March 2011


Towards the middle/end of last week I “attended” the ALCTS-eforum on the follow-up to "2010: The Year of Catalogue Research". For those of us in the UK who might not be familiar with the organisation, the Association for for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) is a part of the American Library Association (ALA). On its website the ALCTS says it is

"the premier resource for information specialists in collection development, preservation, and technical services. [and is] the leader in the development of principles, standards, and best practices for creating, collecting, organizing, delivering, and preserving information resources in all forms."

So, having picked up notification of the e-forum via Twitter, I subscribed and waited for things to happen - and, goodness, did they happen! The invitation to subscribe put forward the purpose of the group as to look at some of the following issues around catalogue research:

"How important is cataloging and classification research to your everyday technical services decision-making? Do you find the library literature useful in informing your policies and procedures? Are you producing statistical studies that might help others in the field? How do you disseminate your results? Do you find reviews of the literature helpful? Do you have suggestions for future directions in cataloging research? Is it time to develop formal dissemination forums for metadata research that are separate from MARC cataloging?"

This was followed by an introductory message suggesting that anyone contributing introduce themselves, and describe how they keep up-to-date, any suggestions for best practice, and what research they might be doing in the field of cataloguing.

As you might imagine, there were a variety of library staff contributing to the forum, all reporting many and varied ways of keeping up-to-date, including using RSS feeds, iGoogle, single blogs (like planet cataloguing), wikis, Twitter, some really whizzy personally created sites and a whole range of other things! There was interesting discussion around the value of differing information resources - the web 2.0-type resources compared to the traditional published journal resources.

Another area of discussion was the interest in research into cataloguing. Several suggestions came up, including the use of user tagging compared to the use of controlled vocabulary (like LCSH), and investigating catalogue usage statistics to inform bibliographic record creation.

It was also suggested that the community involved in the discussions seemed to be falling into three distinct camps: RDF / linked data; xml / metadata / digital; MARC / AACR cataloguing. There was concern that there was overlap in the areas of work, but that there perhaps wasn't enough communication and cross-pollination between the groups.

Discussion also focussed on the education of new information professionals and the sometimes woeful amount of time allocated to cover the whole area of cataloguing / metadata etc..

Overall, the e-forum proved to be an interesting sounding board for many thoughts and ideas, a few of which are mentioned above. The ALCTS will be producing a summary of the discussions so it you have an interest in this area, do check their website regularly for this report.

Apologies if this report sounds a bit disjointed: For some reason or other my original post got lost in the ether so I did a re-write - and these just never seem to be as coherent as the originals!


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