On Thursday, I attended the 2011 NC Serials Conference, along with Chris, Linda Z. and Bradley. They’ll probably talk about other sessions, but I thought I’d give a brief re-cap of a presentation called “The Future of the Catalog,” by Tim Bucknall of UNC-Greensboro and Margaretta Yarborough of UNC-Chapel Hill, since that’s right in my area.
Bucknall began by talking about how, with the advent of the Web, the catalog is no longer the center of the information universe, and how we have seen a huge increase in the number and types of data sources found in the catalog. He also said that the catalog is no longer a listing of everything we have, but a listing of what we can access. Bucknall pointed to a survey that found that 93% of the public agree that Google provides worthwhile information, while only 78% agree that library websites provide worthwhile information. What this means for the future of the catalog is that we can no longer even hope that the catalog will be a one-stop shop, and that we will need discovery tools that can search the catalog and other information silos simultaneously. Bucknall also pointed to a study that showed that for library users and library directors, out of a list of 18 possible enhancements to the catalog, the most desirable enhancement is to add more links to full-text, while catalogers rated this item dead last on the list. This indicates that, as a whole, the cataloging community must become more aware of the needs of their users.
Yarborough looked at the landscape of the cataloging world, and found a loss of control for catalogers (as more outsiders are adding data to our catalogs), a changing balance of materials (shelf-ready materials vs. traditional cataloging), a change in the sheer volume of material cataloged (purchasing bib records for sets of electronic resources), and more demand for other types of materials not formerly found in the catalog (archival collections, digital collections, etc.). She argued that in the catalog of the near future, library resources should be accessible where users search (rather than forcing them to come to our sites), library resources should be intelligible in ordinary language, the catalog must be intuitive and easy to navigate, the catalog should have a discovery layer to provide a one-stop search, authority control will be more important than ever, and we will need to have user-added tags, reviews, and other enhancements to our records to make them more useful. Yarborough also discussed the ways this new type of catalog is causing shifts in the tasks catalogers perform, with more emphasis on local/unique materials, more analysis and loading of batch records, and a general shift toward more project management functions.
This conference was a special one for me, because I (along with Chris) gave my first-ever conference presentation. We discussed our FixZak group and our model for managing e-resources and technical services troubleshooting. We had a lot of good questions afterward, and there seemed to be some genuine interest in our model.