Does it really matter to Academic libraries if on the finish of the RDA trial by LOC, that we herald in the dawn of RDA? I think not.
Shelf Ready? You know what I’m talking about. Out-sourcing? There’s another shiver down my spine. Self-Deposit? Stop right there I can’t take any more!
Ok, ok calm down. Jasmine tea and a screen break……..lets be rational here.
This IS the 21st Century, and as Information Professionals we are used to welcoming and engaging new developments. The question is – what will happen to cataloguing and catalogers? The task is of course fundamental to information retrieval, but if we no longer have ownership of that task, what are we doing? We are evolving that’s what. We are now metadata specialists, engaging with Library systems management and records quality management. We deal in resource licencing, exam papers, access to e-resources and repository submissions. Our skills requirements are not so much AACR2, but Excel, Power point and intranet file management: A plethora of skills not to be scoffed at.
So, taking a closer look at what is up and coming…..
I would like to refer to a paper at this stage:
Cox, Elizabeth J. and Anne K. D. Myers, What is a Professional Cataloger? LRTS, 54 (4)
Summary of highlighted areas of Journal below:
- What defines the cataloguing role – there needs to be more definition between what cataloguers and professionals do
- What is the value of completing a professional qualification
- What is the proper reward or compensation for a cataloger
- How cataloguing work is evaluated – qualitatively and quantitively
This isn’t a literature review, but more of a personal take on how this applies to my own institution.
Although many articles and books touch on this topic, little has been written focusing solely on the role of professionals and paraprofessionals in the cataloging department
* ODLIS: Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science: “a librarian primarily responsible for preparing bibliographic records to represent the items acquired by a library, including bibliographic description, subject analysis, and classification. Also refers to the librarian responsible for supervising a cataloging department.”
In terms of Metadata administration – ‘The Metadata Administrator is one of a number of Administrators, each responsible for oversight of the day-to-day administration of a specialist library function. They will also work as a team, sharing their knowledge and expertise in order to provide mutual support and service resilience. This postholder will be responsible for bibliographic records management and overseeing processing of non-purchased new materials. To ensure that library databases provides an accurate record of library materials held in stock, in accordance with agreed standards and procedures. This will include monitoring of bibliographic records and the management of creation / amendment of records where necessary.’ Already we can see a huge difference: we are non-specific administrative assistants, dealing with records and quality management of those records whether that is by copy cataloguing or skeleton cataloguing.
* A number of respondent comments touched on the relative value of an MLIS
In terms of resource description, this would not be considered a necessary qualification. Information assistants are more likely to have the ECDL qualification or similar, and be continuously updating their computer skills, in word, excel and powerpoint. These are considered the necessary skills of their library tasks for the forthcoming decade.
* Many paraprofessional respondents commented that their contributions are not rewarded sufficiently
Certainly the tasks that Information Assistants now perform used to be considered ‘professional’ tasks, however, the development in librarianship has not just been linear, but also encompasses wider aspects of task replacement, role reductions, and job description extensions.
Rewards are encouraged by way of opportunities to offer feedback, work collaboratively, and engage with personal objectives as part of their personal development.
* One of the goals of this research was to identify any differences between professional and paraprofessional catalogers.
As a Metadata Administrator, I do not do any cataloguing or description but manage the cataloguers and the records quality.
In this way, the Metadata Administrator is free’d up for horizon scanning up to 3 months, and using foundation metadata knowledge to keep abreast of developments, and for thinking creatively about working practices.
* Evaluation of Cataloging and Measurement of Productivity
Quality checking of records produced is paramount while we still do them! Both qualitatively and quantitively.
The hows of this aren’t addressed in this article, and at the moment we are working on how to do this humanely (avoiding a time and motion exercise).
* The authors recommend that the library profession as a whole reach consensus about the level of work paraprofessionals should do and how they should be compensated.
This would include new skills evaluation – replacement of skills no longer in service; validating and looking towards the next decade in cataloguing.
* This study suggests a need in libraries for clarity in how responsibilities are defined and assigned, and how expectations are articulated, so that professional and paraprofessional catalogers better understand their roles and value to the organization.
This is the most important thing – more direct exchange of information of job expectations between line manager and staff, as well as within the team as a whole firstly.
Then a dissemination of ‘what we do’ to the wider library.
In cataloguing or Resource Description, it is important to look at the ‘foundations’ of what is involved in order to understand how it is changing. I would propose:
- a foundation knowledge of cataloguing including the whys and hows (currently AACR2)
- a foundation knowledge of metadata schema, ontologies and taxonomies
- development of up to date computing skills normally associated with more web based application