Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Opening the office doors

Just before Easter the Bibliographic Services Team opened its office doors and invited staff from other parts of the library to come and see what actually goes on in the team: A little bit of demystifying can work wonders for cross-library working relationships!

Our Open Day advertising was based around our READ-ability Initiative and our PIC Project, and ensured that we focussed on showcasing many of the things we do that other library staff perhaps didn’t realise we did! Previous open days have usually been based around the route of the book (from order to shelf), or journals work, so this latest venture was a bit of a departure for us.

Here’s the blurb:

Down in the fusty, dusty basement, cataloguing staff have their noses in great tomes of wonder - the manuals of AACR2, RDA LCSH and MARC21 and the Dewey classification schedules! True? Well, yes, at least partially!

We do indeed live in the basement, but it certainly is not fusty and dusty! We have windows – although they don’t actually open, and look out on to the pavement – and because of the fast throughput in the office, there is little in the way of dust! Although cataloguers by name, we do so much more, and we shook off our old mantle years ago – where were you when we moved to online manuals and online Dewey schedules, got involved in Twitter chats, mashdmu events and raised our heads above the parapet?

So come on down to our office and learn about:

·      our READ-ability Initiative - committing to improving the experience of students and other library users when interacting with the library catalogue and the library stock, helping them to find that elusive piece of information they need. It is about articulating and understanding what we do and how it can help users, and telling everyone!
·      our PIC Project - pulling together much of the work performed around cataloguing in Bibliographic Services, and recognises that much of this work helps to PIC!!
·      the more traditional activities associated with a thriving Bibliographic Services operation, like journals work, ordering, financial controls and much, much more!

Intrigued? Want to know more? Then abandon the arena of user activity and bound down to the basement to learn about the creation of metadata and keyword consistency to ensure discoverability of our resources!

We made an early decision to limit the number of participants to each open day to 15, given that there were five major topics we wanted to cover, and each demo would be around someone’s workstation. We also decided to go the speed-dating way – five groups of three people stopping at each of five demos, each demo being no more than 15 minutes long! This meant we could show more of what we do, but in less detail, so nothing should have been too technical!

The idea of only being able to share tiny snippets of what we do may sound a bit limiting, but the initial greeting and the final goodbye stressed the idea that nothing was too much trouble for us and if anybody wanted to know about more detail about anything they’d seen then we were happy to get a phone call, an email or a personal visit and would go into as much detail as required! Also, if there was something we hadn’t covered at all, we’d be happy to do more tailored sessions.

Every member of the team who was available in the office on the day of the open day (i.e. not on a service point, on leave, poorly, or not scheduled to be at work) had a part to play and showcased some part of Bib Services work to the visitors. My own role was simply to keep an eye on the time and make sure groups moved on as soon as their 15 minutes was up! That proved quite challenging and I’ve since invested in a handbell!

Party bag!
The office was fairly buzzing with activity and chatter for the 90 minutes of the open day, and it was pleasing to see people interacting and learning from each other. At the end of the session, each participant was asked to complete a feedback form and given a party bag – no, not a bribe, just a thank-you for coming gesture!

Judging by the feedback we received, it seems our open day was successful! Of the 11 feedback forms returned, 10 rated the overall open day event as “excellent”. Comments on specific aspects of the open day were also very positive, and some of the suggestions made by our visitors are currently being considered by the team, before we offer our next open day. 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Post-31st March!

Hard to believe we are already into April 2013, when it seems like the year only just started!

So, RDA is now longer coming our way - it has already arrived! With a bang? Well, no, not for us really, since some major bibliographic record suppliers have been providing records in RDA format since January of this year. What we have had to do in relation to our own cataloguing work is look at the RDA standard and see what we can and can’t currently adopt, due to limitations not in our cataloguing software, nor our cataloguers' abilities, but in our OPAC.

Decisions made at a cataloguers’ meeting earlier this year will remain in place until our OPAC has the capabilities to display all the new RDA-specific fields, and that, unfortunately, means that wherever possible, the cataloguers will be avoiding importing RDA records. Where an RDA record is the best record available, then it will be imported and modified to suit us, but the resulting record will not be shared with the cataloguing community at large.

Problematic fields for us include the new 264 field, so we will not initially be adopting this, but we will retain fields 336, 337 and 338 if they are in the record. We have had much discussion about 245 $h and have reluctantly decided to adopt this practice, and are hoping that users will find the item-type icon acceptable as an indicator of material-type, until our OAPC is improved.

This situation does, of course, mean that our knowledge, skills and experience of using RDA will lag behind the rest of the cataloguing community, though we are dipping in and out of our toolkit and looking out for suitable training.

Here’s hoping for a speedy resolution to our display problem!