Professional Development

Catalog Debate at ALA

Thursday, July 10, 2008 9:05 am

At ALA, I attended several sessions on cataloging and the future of the catalog. The liveliest session was a debate titled “There’s No Catalog Like No Catalog: The Ultimate Debate on the Future of the Library Catalog.” Below are some of the questions Roy Tennant, Senior Program Officer for OCLC Programs and Research, posed to debaters, Stephen Abram, Karen Coyle, Joseph Janes, and Karen G. Schneider as well as the debaters’ responses. The debate has been made available as a podcast on LITA’s blog.

1. What are library catalogs good for and not good for? As expected, views and responses varied. Negative comments included library catalogs are rotten for patrons, they don’t enhance learning, they don’t create good user experiences, and there is no sense of community. The catalog is a dead end repository; it is the beginning of where data starts, but it shouldn’t be the end. One person used the analogy of the old Raid bug spray commercials that it’s a roach motel, lots of easy ways in, but no way out.
One person posed the question with the catalog as an inventory manager, should it be helpful to users as a tool? It is this for library staff, but maybe something else is needed for our users. We should be trying to figure new ways to get users what they really want, not what we have in our collection that may or may not meet their information needs.
Another comment made was that we were better off with the card catalog. If one failed, one could turn around and get help. If one’s in the middle of nowhere using a digital library, getting help is not necessarily an option; there maybe nowhere obvious to go.
Start with Wikipedia or Google even though libraries have these enshrinements of what they own.
The catalog is an 18th century metaphor. How can it be stretched to fit the 21st century meaning.
2. Could one big catalog do it for everyone (i.e. World Cat)? Some of the comments generated by this question included that’s nonsense to libraries shouldn’t be place oriented, but information oriented. Making a catalog bigger doesn’t necessarily make it more desirable. Libraries have to let people do things with data even though we may not like it. Free the data; stop locking it up in arcane proprietors. There was two opinions about World Cat expressed; one, it is not a catalog, but a registry file for data, and two, it is so a catalog.
Google is taking catalogers and they’re making information usable as opposed to catalogers taking information and making it useful for OPACs. A new set of ideas is needed to connect people in a thoughtful way with the resources they want, and the MARC record may be incapable of doing this. Librarians should ask themselves is what they are doing serve us today? Give up the idea of a system and sameness; look towards experimentation. We need to bust data out of silo and move seamlessly across a data network. The usability and value of local enhancements added to a catalog record, are they worth the time and cost?
Any transition must make sense to librarians and our users. Some of our users are proficient at using our systems. Because we are hemmed in by past traditions, change may annoy some of our users/supporters and thrill others.
Two questions were posed by one debater; how does a book get better every time it’s read and how does a library get better every time it’s used? This somehow should be traceable without compromising users’ privacy concerns. Catalogs should have something like Netflix cues in them; people add value with personal comments and reviews. Libraries need research on where does metadata help users be better discoverers. We are behind in approaches with collecting and using data.
3. Do open source solutions offer a compelling option, either now or in the near-future? Libraries should be helping to design systems they use. Librarians need to look at what open source software does and its quality; it must be good and needs to be auditable.
4. What changes do you see coming in the library software market and how will those changes affect options for libraries? Mergers with ILS vendors was one response.
One person mentioned the economy and budgets. These two factors will affect how people get books in our libraries. With gas at an all time high, purchasing a book on Google for $.99 may become an alternative option for some. With times being tight, this is also when people turn to libraries as an alternative for entertainment; it’s a good opportunity for libraries to shine. Are we going to have a marketing campaign? We should be clear that we’re not the choice for bad times only, but for good times as well.
Print on demand. With the many options of technology, what is the cost in relation to the benefit must be determined. Can libraries quantify the benefit of cataloging? Cost will ultimately show things need to work differently. If ILL costs $30, why not purchase the book on Amazon used books for $5 and ship to the patron?
Libraries need to be statistically literate and evidence-based as opposed to barking dogma said one debater.
5. If you could snap your fingers and do one thing to the current library software market, what would it be? Everything will be open source. Get on cycle of normal technology profession; don’t get behind six generations by not upgrading software.
Separate library management systems without hindering good user services.
Larger library software market; a sense of greater demand may merit major software companies wanting to develop software products for libraries.
Libraries can provide people the intelligence of other users.
Everybody gets their own personal Nancy Pearl.

Some final thoughts expressed included:
1. A tremendous amount of information can be learned by new graduates and the expertise and tradition of those working in trenches.
2. Give up dogma, reanalyze our practices. Some are based on older technologies. If you don’t want to kill dogma at least put it in a kennel long enough to reanalyze practices.
3. Engage with non-librarians who are creating bibliographic records; let them into our environment.
4. Trust our users and make use of them.
5. Marriage of traditional metadata and tagging.
6. Take advantage of leaner times to market what libraries do.

One Response to “Catalog Debate at ALA”

  1. What a great session! I wish I had been there!


Pages
About
Categories
2007 ACRL Baltimore
2007 ALA Annual
2007 ALA Gaming Symposium
2007 ALA Midwinter
2007 ASERL New Age of Discovery
2007 Charleston Conference
2007 ECU Gaming Presentation
2007 ELUNA
2007 Evidence Based Librarianship
2007 Innovations in Instruction
2007 Kilgour Symposium
2007 LAUNC-CH Conference
2007 LITA National Forum
2007 NASIG Conference
2007 North Carolina Library Association
2007 North Carolina Serials Conference
2007 OCLC International ILLiad Conference
2007 Open Repositories
2007 SAA Chicago
2007 SAMM
2007 SOLINET NC User Group
2007 UNC TLT
2007_ASIST
2008
2008 Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians
2008 ACRL Immersion
2008 ACRL/LAMA JVI
2008 ALA Annual
2008 ALA Midwinter
2008 ASIS&T
2008 First-Year Experience Conference
2008 Lilly Conference
2008 LITA
2008 NASIG Conference
2008 NCAECT
2008 NCLA RTSS
2008 North Carolina Serials Conference
2008 ONIX for Serials Webinar
2008 Open Access Day
2008 SPARC Digital Repositories
2008 Tri-IT Meeting
2009
2009 ACRL Seattle
2009 ALA Annual
2009 ALA Annual Chicago
2009 ALA Midwinter
2009 ARLIS/NA
2009 Big Read
2009 code4lib
2009 Educause
2009 Handheld Librarian
2009 LAUNC-CH Conference
2009 LAUNCH-CH Research Forum
2009 Lilly Conference
2009 LITA National Forum
2009 NASIG Conference
2009 NCLA Biennial Conference
2009 NISOForum
2009 OCLC International ILLiad Conference
2009 RBMS Charlottesville
2009 SCLA
2009 UNC TLT
2010
2010 ALA Annual
2010 ALA Midwinter
2010 ATLA
2010 Code4Lib
2010 EDUCAUSE Southeast
2010 Handheld Librarian
2010 ILLiad Conference
2010 LAUNC-CH Research Forum
2010 LITA National Forum
2010 Metrolina
2010 NASIG Conference
2010 North Carolina Serials Conference
2010 RBMS
2010 Sakai Conference
2011 ACRL Philadelphia
2011 ALA Annual
2011 ALA Midwinter
2011 CurateCamp
2011 Illiad Conference
2012 SNCA Annual Conference
ACRL
ACRL 2013
ACRL New England Chapter
ACRL-ANSS
ACRL-STS
ALA Annual
ALA Annual 2013
ALA Editions
ALA Midwinter
ALA Midwinter 2012
ALA Midwinter 2014
ALCTS Webinars for Preservation Week
ALFMO
APALA
ARL Assessment Seminar 2014
ARLIS
ASERL
ASU
Audio streaming
authority control
Berkman Webinar
bibliographic control
Book Repair Workshops
Career Development for Women Leaders Program
CASE Conference
cataloging
Celebration: Entrepreneurial Conference
Charleston Conference
CIT Showcase
CITsymposium2008
Coalition for Networked Information
code4lib
commons
Conference Planning
Conferences
Copyright Conference
COSWL
CurateGear 2013
CurateGear 2014
Designing Libraries II Conference
DigCCurr 2007
Digital Forsyth
Digital Humanities Symposium
Disaster Recovery
Discovery tools
E-books
EDUCAUSE
Educause SE
EDUCAUSE_SERC07
Electronic Resources and Libraries
Embedded Librarians
Entrepreneurial Conference
ERM Systems
evidence based librarianship
FDLP
FRBR
Future of Libraries
Gaming in Libraries
General
GODORT
Google Scholar
govdocs
Handheld Librarian Online Conference
Hurricane Preparedness/Solinet 3-part Workshop
ILS
information design
information ethics
Information Literacy
innovation
Innovation in Instruction
Inspiration
instruction
IRB101
Journal reading group
Keynote
LAMS Customer Service Workshop
LAUNC-CH
Leadership
Learning spaces
LibQUAL
Library 2.0
Library of Congress
licensing
Lilly Conference
LITA
LITA National Forum
LOEX2008
Lyrasis
Management
Marketing
Mentoring Committee
MERLOT
metadata
Metrolina 2008
MOUG 09
MOUG 2010
Music Library Assoc. 07
Music Library Assoc. 09
Music Library Assoc. 2010
NASIG
NC-LITe
NCCU Conference on Digital Libraries
NCICU
NCLA
NCLA Biennial Conference 2013
NCPC
NCSLA
NEDCC/SAA
NHPRC-Electronic Records Research Fellowships Symposium
NISO
North Carolina Serial Conference 2014
Offsite Storage Project
OLE Project
online catalogs
online course
OPAC
open access
Peabody Library Leadership Institute
plagiarism
Podcasting
Preservation
Preservation Activities
Preserving Forsyth LSTA Grant
Professional Development Center
rare books
RDA/FRBR
Reserves
RITS
RTSS 08
RUSA-CODES
SAA Class New York
SAMM 2008
SAMM 2009
Scholarly Communication
ScienceOnline2010
Social Stratification in the Deep South
Social Stratification in the Deep South 2009
Society of American Archivists
Society of North Carolina Archivists
SOLINET
Southeast Music Library Association
Southeast Music Library Association 08
Southeast Music Library Association 09
SPARC webinar
subject headings
Sun Webinar Series
tagging
Technical Services
technology
ThinkTank Conference
Training
ULG
Uncategorized
user studies
Vendors
video-assisted learning
visual literacy
WakeSpace
Web 2.0
Webinar
WebWise
WFU China Initiative
Wikis
Women's History Symposium 2007
workshops
WSS
ZSR Library Leadership Retreat
Tags
Archives
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007

Powered by WordPress.org, protected by Akismet. Blog with WordPress.com.