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Saturday, May 24, 2008


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Shawne Miksa

Unfortunately, I can't attend the symposium--cost prohibitive--but would love to get any materials that are available.

Just some random thoughts as I am working on finishing up writing a historical paper. As I read through many articles from the 1950s and 60s I am constantly surprised (or not) by the fact that many of the problems (challenges? mass hysteria?) faced then are still around now. For example, our favorite scenario of 'the impact of new technologies on creating a "oh, our jobs are obsolete" attitude'. It was said then, and is said now, and yet we still are "with job". Let's come up with a different response, yes?

Instead of the immediate succumbing (this is my word of the day) to dread I would implore catalogers to respond with more spunk and attitude. We may have 5 minutes of panic. But then we must remind ourselves of the value of our experiences and knowledge. During the one-day preconference I gave on RDA and FRBR at the recent TLA Annual conference here in Texas I saw the audience move from apprehension to either acceptance and surprisingly motivated curiosity (Bring it on!) or complete resignation (Oh, the change! Oh, the messiness of it all! I don't wanna.)

Again, just some random thoughts. Perhaps not very useful, but said nonetheless.

Chris Schwartz

Yes, spunk and attitude is what we need! I think there is so much catalogers can bring to non-MARC metadata work.


Fortunately, I will be able to go to the symposium. I really am looking forward to it.

I agree, in essence, with the comments. The kind of "oh, the world is coming to an end" response to the idea of implementing RDA is particularly annoying to me. If we simply WON'T change, then, yes, we will become obsolete.

I'm very interested in exploring new avenues, seeing how RDA implementation and implementation of FRBR can be accomplished, and hopefully change dramatically how our discovery tools work. - I can tell you, where I work, our OPAC STILL sucks. I'm hoping that some of these changes will fix that. Though I know that the OPAC design needs to change as well, for that to happen - and for many of us, that's out of the hands of us catalogers.

As for non-MARC metadata, absolutely. I think the fear some catalogers have for non-MARC metadata, or the "metadata community" is absurd. As if we aren't already DOING metadata...we just don't tend to call it that.

As to the original question of where we are...I think there's hope - but those of us who want to move forward apparently have to drag the rest kicking and screaming. I'm glad to hear that Shawne has gotten some good response when presenting on RDA and FRBR - hopefully that's a good sign regarding the future.

Chris Schwartz

Hi arkham, I'm glad you're going to be there. I particularly like your point about what we "call" our work. Most of the time now I use "metadata" for everything--MARC, non-MARC--you name it. These days what we call what we do is really important. There are times when I want to be more specific and will use "traditional cataloging." But that tends to be around people who don't think that traditional cataloging=Ludditism.


I have no idea what catalogers do today in libraries, but I often come across library-related sites (like digital repositories) that I think are crying out for old fashioned cataloging skills. For my own career, it was the finest preparation for doing everything else. And even today (retired), when I unload the grocery cart onto the belt, I see evidence of it.

Chris Schwartz

Hi Norma, This is music to my ears! I am an experienced cataloger only 4 months into a metadata librarian gig. I hope to bring some good old fashioned cataloging skills to my new job. On the flip side, I'm learning a lot about working with digital files, metadata, XML, DOIs, etc.

Laurel Tarulli

Unfortunately, I won't be attending the symposium.

Shawne has a good point when he refers to older articles from the 50s and 60s. Cataloguers have always had the same concerns. I like to think it's because we are aware of the importance of our area of expertise and the need for it not to remain static. I welcome traditional cataloguing and see many benefits. That said, our library will be moving to RDA and FRBR in the future - it's already being discussed. I'm quite excited about this move.

One of the biggest changes I see in the future of cataloguing is the marriage between technical services and cataloguing. I see a growing importance in understanding how metadata (all information) is stored and behaves in different/emerging formats, as well as a deeper understanding of the software we use. MARC and AACR2 are only the tools we use, it does not define cataloguing. Many of my colleagues and I believe this.

Good luck at the symposium and I look forward to reading about it in one of your future posts.

Stephanie P.

I agree with you, Laurel. I think Cataloguing jobs will become more and more similar to (blend with) our Systems Librarian jobs. That will scare some of the people who are already having trouble with the direction our profession is taking.

I am glad that there are more people coming out with cautious optimism about where we are heading. I'm glad we're not holding onto our past successes nor throwing them out the window. I think there is always going to be a place for "traditional" cataloguing in libraries. Indeed I think with RDA and FRBR we are still doing "traditional" cataloguing with new terminology. The principles are still the same; to organize information in an easy to use fashion.


"Cataloguing jobs will become more and more similar to (blend with) our Systems Librarian jobs."

I think that's likely, at least for many cataloging jobs. My supervisor used to be the head of the cataloging department. She now manages the ILS. Her job sort of changed, and she virtually never does any cataloging anymore, that is left to our cataloging assistant, and to me (though the library system has to pay my grant for the items I catalog - a peculiarity of my position - makes it sort of like outsourcing the cataloging).

It was good meeting you and getting a chance to talk a bit.

Chris Schwartz

Hi Laurel, Stephanie, arkham,
Thanks for these continued conversation points. I agree. It's this melding of information technology and cataloging that's making some catalogers nervous. I'm very sympathetic to this. We are being stretch to really embrace "computational thinking" (to quote an article title mentioned last year by Johnathan Rochkind). We will all probably be working closer with IT/Systems staff if not doing it ourselves.

arkham, It was great to meet you at the symposium. As great as the Web is--there's nothing like hashing out some of these issues face-to-face. I really appreciate your input on the blog!

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