Monday, September 7, 2009

How not to do it

After having gone live with our digital collections using CONTENTdm, I can offer some do's and don't when creating a digital collection. In our case it was primarily photograph collections.

First, start with a couple of small manageable collections, not large collections. By small I am suggesting 100-200 images. At this point, you have little if no experience working with digital images and CONTENTdm. Why start with large collections that are more unmanageable than you realize. With small collections you can easily make corrections to the records and you will get experience using the software, the controlled vocabularies, and the general feel for the workflow that will be involved. Changes will constantly being made as this is a trial and error period.

Second, work with collections that are not just processed, but also have been researched. At the same time don't assume a processed physical collection will be organized in a manner conducive to a digital collection. What's in a box together doesn't necessarily equate to an organized collection. Having the research done also helps tremendously. Otherwise you are constantly stopping to do more research which interferes with the workflow.

Third, get more than one person's perspective from the very beginning. Each person brings different work and life experiences to the project. No single person can recognize the multiple perspectives that a image/collection can be viewed from.

Fourth, be selective on what you are digitizing. Ten images of the same building from slightly different angles does not improve the digital collection.

Fifth, think outside of the box. Just because they are in the same archival collection doesn't mean they have to be in the same digital collection. When a group of organizations are working together on their digital collection website it may make sense to pull photos from a variety of collections to create a single new digital collection. An example might be a collection of 1906 San Francisco earthquake photos. If multiple organizations have photos of this event it may make better sense to pull them together to create a new digital collection.

Sixth, communicate with everyone working on the project. Communication is crucial especially in a consortium site. It's a team project and everyone's thoughtful input can only improve the digital collections.

Seventh, take your time. You want to continue to move forward, but you don't want to sacrifice quality for quantity. And you don't want to always be backtracking and making corrections.

I could probably keep on going with this list, but my hands are tiring.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Authority Services

Do library administrators understand the concept of authority control??  Hey, I'm in cataloging and I still have issues in understanding all that is involved with authority control and the services that we have outsourced in this area.  I do know that we need it.  It's not a maybe, it's a necessity.  We unfortunately have a library administrator who doesn't truly understand the need for authority control and doesn't appear to have any interest in learning.  There's a mental wall blocking out any sense of rationale on the subject (one of among many subjects).

Should we care??  I keep telling myself don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff, but we are being led in a direction that makes no sense at all.  Do we do authority control ourselves, as we did in the past or do we just forgo this activity?  Lacking the staff we may just have to do sporadic checking and move on.  We have enough issues with the catalog without adding this to the pile.  Don't sweat it.  Keep telling myself don't sweat it.

It's the gifts

It's not the materials we are purchasing that need original cataloging, it's the gifts that we add to the collection. We are in the process of cataloging Fetish& which has pictures of good luck charms/fetishes that attendees of the 1997 MTV video music awards presentation brought in to be photographed. Such an odd item, that may have some relevancy in an academic library, but only some.

Maybe I shouldn't complain, it's keeping us busy and we are learning to expand our skills by stretching our brains to catalog unusual items.

Artists' books are another area that is stretching my brain. Trying to edit or create records for the odd sorts of materials that are artists' books-- expensive artists' books. These materials are always a challenge.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

There's still work to do

Just a few thoughts to pass on.

Outsourcing of work to create efficiencies doesn't necessarily mean we don't have work to do.

Non-catalogers and library administrators are not recognizing and acknowledging that there needs to be a lot of time devoted to the maintenance of the catalog and to the individual records that make up the catalog. So, there may be services/options to automate a variety of processes, including cataloging, but there still needs to be ongoing maintenance and revision of records to ensure that URLs are connecting properly and the database is clean. We can continue to add records through automated processes, but that leads to duplicate bib records that need to be cleaned up and other related issues.

This also applies to the work related to electronic resources that are being purchased to replace paper periodicals and monographs. There are services such as Serial Solutions to aid in the management of these resources, but vendors are constantly making changes that they do not necessarily notify us about. Someone is always going in and cleaning up holdings information and resolving connectivity issues that need to be fixed at our end.

These services are great, but they don't run properly without ongoing oversight by a real person or persons.

A related thought. Just because you take "professional" librarians off the reference desk doesn't mean there is no reference desk. Someone else needs to come in a take on that responsibility in some manner. Work is shifted and adjusted, it doesn't disappear.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Annual posting

Looks like it's been over a year since I last posted an entry to my blog. I just read a couple of my previous postings and initially wondered who wrote this. Then I realized that I wrote it over a year ago. It appears that my writing style changes when I start to blog. Not necessarily a better writing style than normal, just a different style. Maybe I think someone is actually going to read the posting, so I change to what I think might be a more acceptable style. Hey, do I sound academic? literate? somewhat literate? Questions to ponder until the next installment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hello, It's been a long time.....

Is cataloging dying out? Is it an area of the profession that is becoming unnecessary, obsolete and antiquated? That's the word I seem to be hearing and I don't know why. Not everything can be copy cataloged and if you look at OCLC you know that there are large quantity of poorly constructed cataloging records. So you can't just accept any record you find in OCLC.

Will metadatars replace catalogers? One of the trends occurring in academia is to bring in new MLS graduates to do the metadata in a unit separate from the library. At least that is what I heard at a workshop I attended last week. Shouldn't some catalogers be transitioned into metadata positions? It's basically the same set of skills that are being used in both activities. MARC is a metadata schema so it should be an easy transition.

Maybe I should just assume I will be a member of the last generation of catalogers. In the future we may just have Google to serve the needs of all users. They will have digitized everything and make it easily searchable for everyone. Hey, Google do you have any jobs for old geezers like me? I can type. That's still a transferable skill, isn't it?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Are Reference Desks Dying Out?

That's the title of the article in the April 20, 2007 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Well, are they or aren't they? In the article some surveys have indicated that students want the traditional reference desk while others have the opposite result. Is that such a surprise?? University campuses are different. Libraries can be different too. What works in one library will not always work in another.

The article also talks about using library clerical workers to staff the reference desk. So where are they getting all of these clerical workers? Are they hiring more staff to work the desk? I doubt it. Most likely they are pulling staff from other areas and having them work some hours on the desk. So it's not the reference desk that's dying, it's the use of librarians staffing the reference desk.

Maybe we should rename the reference desk to service desk. That would be more appropriate and correct.