Sunday, October 25, 2009

Collection Development & Cataloging - old skool?

Just a quick one since I have some "homework" to do for my Drupal Fundys class...

I've been taking a look at the Twitter streams for #il2009 & #libcamp09 (the unconference held in Monterey before Internet Librarians began - preconference for IL happens today, then we have a few days of Internet Librarians goodness to keep an eye on) & saw this gem from @RachelsVoice (retweeted from others) "RT @pjbent: RT @civillibrarian: "end user selected books circ six times more than staff selected books" (@sabram)! Wow. #il2009 #libcamp09"

Now last week I had a post-NELA supper with a couple of my fav (granted I have a lot of those) colleagues & one of them talked about an automated user-based collection development system that her consortium of academic libraries is starting up. I was so impressed. For the longest time, I've wondered why we don't just hand over the reins to the users when it comes to collection development (for the most part... granted, reference may require librarian / subject matter expertise as guidance). So I'm glad to hear that some libraries are finally doing this.

In a similar vein, don't forget that some of our leading edge public libraries now recognize that having staff members with "cataloging" expertise is no longer a requirement. With the many high-quality bib records out there, why do so many libraries seek out catalogers? There are institutions/organizations and contexts in which cataloging expertise is needed - but in many libraries, the highest and most pressing technical knowledge needs they have are related to computer and telecommunications technology. I know, I know - that scares librarians because it displaces a library-specific skillset with a more general skillset, but that's the reality today and the faster libraries get on-board with this reality, the less likely they are to disappear.

1 comment:

Civil Librarian said...

When I heard Stephen Abram cite the statistic about user-selected circ vs. staff-selected, I was pretty bowled over. I'm with you that there seems to be some opportunity for including user input more than we do. I'm not advocating for complete user selection but it's hard to argue with the statistics, by the same token.