The vanishing cataloger

October 27, 2008

In the past few years, I’ve been noticing a trend amongst many of the smart, talented cataloging colleagues that I know — they are are leaving the Cataloging profession.
I think there are many factors at work, but I see a few trends:

  • The shifted job: Their jobs have shifted even if their job descriptions or titles have not.
  • The evolved job: Their jobs and official job descriptions have shifted from “Cataloger” to something involving bibliographic services, metadata, electronic resources, digital initiatives, etc. Their home department has also changed names and scope from traditional cataloging services, to encompass more digital projects, non-MARC metadata, and more.
  • The transition job: Their new jobs are no longer centered on traditional cataloging (and in some cases are not in a library) . These librarians are leaving the cataloging profession to be reference librarians, systems librarians, school media librarians, web designers, information architects, technical writers, library science instructors, and more.

I do realize there are still lib sci students studying traditional cataloging, but I am not sure that they expect to find a job as a “Cataloger.” I think many of them will be looking to digital libraries, IRs, a consortia, the web, and elsewhere.

Perhaps, this is the reason:

Our catalogers began to disappear with the takeover of that function by OCLC, the nonprofit that aspires to be a corporation in this brave new retail library world. The standardized result of the effort is bypassed by patron and librarian alike, as they turn to the more friendly Amazons, Googles, et al., for the less precise, more watered-down “metadata” that has replaced what used to be cataloging. Apparently, users don’t miss the old catalog, except as a familiar artifact, which is testimony to how low this dumbing down has taken us.

In the new model, that most sacred of our professional duties, the selection of materials to build services and collections, is turned over to either small centralized teams of two or three librarians and clerks, or in extreme cases to an external vendor, usually a library book distributor.

from the LJ’s Vanishing Librarian

There is alot of great stuff to be said for the Amazon/Google model, but if librarianship continues to move down that path, will we completely give up the expertise (and respect for that expertise) that is inherent in the profession? Will our services become superficial, mediocre, and generic? Is this part of the larger trend coming out of web2.0 technologies (every one is an expert, so no one is an expert?)

I don’t have a good answer to any of those questions, but it does seem like librarianship (especially cataloging) is changing.

Free program certificate — Teaching and Learning in MultiUser Virtual Enviroments

October 22, 2008

The European funded MUVEnation project has just launched ‘Teaching and learning with MUVEs’. This is a one year postgraduate programme, delivered online, for future and in-service teachers who want to use innovative methods and tools to address learners motivation and participation issues in compulsory education. What impact can 3D virtual worlds, such as Second Life, really have on our learning and teaching settings?

The course is free, but there are only 80 places. Participants will receive a formal letter or certificate of completion from their assigned institution For a full overview of the programme description and objectives please visit. We have four levels of participation – from the full course to those who are more experienced and would like simply to observe and participate in discussions

The programme will be taking place in Italy, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Belgium and France. If you are interested in participating then please see the registration details here on the site, the closing days for applications is the last week in October.
We look forward to hearing from you,
The MUVEnation team

A vision of students today

September 17, 2008

I love mike wesch’s videos.

12 New Rules of Working you should Embrace

August 20, 2008

From Zen Habits, with my thoughts in brackets.

1. Online applications and the cloud beat the desktop and hard drive
2. Collaborate on documentation [online], don’t email [Don’t collaborate on paper, either. If needed, make screenshots of prototypes to share with the group. ]
3. Collaboration is the new productivity [not necessarily true, if you’ve ever been on a dysfunctional committee or project group that can’t get anything done, sometimes the one person who takes charge saves the day; however, groups can be highly productive, see #6)
4. People don’t have to be in the office [hear, hear! I am very productive working offsite and I think most people are. I know there are some companies and institutions that truly support telecommuting, but it seems like a lot of places use telecommuting as a way of shoring up sick leave; i.e., staff are allowed to telecommute when they are too sick to physically come to work.]
5. Archive, don’t file. [I would also add collaboratively archive! If all of the important documentation is stuck on one person’s harddrive and it fails, it may be nearly impossible to retrieve it.]
6. Small teams are better than large teams.
7. Communication is a stream. [F}ind what interests you, search for what you need, and pick and choose the things that matter most to you. Can you answer every email? No — so answer the important ones, and archive the rest. Can you know everything going on in your field or industry? No — so monitor what interests you, and when things really matter you’ll find out from your network of friends or blogs you read.
8. Fewer tasks are better than many.
9. Meetings (usually) suck. [My advice: THINK BEFORE YOU SCHEDULE THAT MEETING. Meetings serve a lot of different purposes which have little to do with the task or goal at hand. For collaborative, visual or auditory learners (workers), they get some of the reinforcement, feedback, and interaction, they need. Meetings also play into the institutional or corporate social culture. They present networking and team building opportunities and provide a human face to the project. Good meetings are invaluable; bad meetings are a huge waste of time and energy.]
10. Opensource is better than closed source. [I know many of the arguments against opensource, but I’m still a huge advocate of opensource.]
11. Rest is as important as work.
12. Focus don’t crank [multi-tasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be]

Librarian professional/networking site

June 29, 2008

From Libgig’s site

LibGig is a new professional networking website dedicated to bringing together everyone who accesses, organizes, creates, manages, produces or distributes information for a living.

Includes: Job listings, information about LS programs, blog posts, interviews of community leaders, etc.

knowledge worker 2.0 – what is it?

September 9, 2007

Hmm, well it does sound like fun. Oh, wait, I already do some of these things… 😉

Brief synopsis (for those who don’t like to click that much):

Old way => information/knowledge held in a “fiefdom” by a small group of players ; knowledge workers are limited in power and by territory, knowledge as a process, rigid ways of organizing

Brief discussion of the long tail (see: Wikipedia for a complete overview of the long tail term)

New way => Web 2.0 and beyond in information centers
Knowledge workers are

  • Everywhere — boundaries of authority and territory are blurred
  • Understand the institutional culture
  • Share information freely (the slideshow adds distributes, but isn’t that part of sharing?)
  • Use peoplecentric/usercentric, SOCIAL systems
  • Use tagging and social networking tools (eh… I consider those to be one current functionality of information systems focused on people…)

Note to self: Never put a slideshow on slideshare that doesn’t autoplay…. or better yet, make a youtube movie!