From the catalogs of babes











{July 29, 2010}   SkyRiver vs. OCLC?

The library cataloging world is all a-buzz today since the press release(PDF) announcing that SkyRiver plans to sue OCLC for anti-trust violations.

I think anyone who’s been following any sort of cataloging news saw this coming miles away. I confess: I always suspected that the creation of SkyRiver wasn’t simply only to provide an alternative to OCLC, but rather an ulterior-motive vehicle for exactly this type of legal action. I know plenty of catalogers who have long felt similarly about OCLC’s apparent monopolistic behavior, but if I recall correctly from my 7th grade government class (and I likely don’t, but still), no legal action can be taken until there’s some sort of victim, some other company or organization that is directly hurt by the alleged violations. When OCLC had no direct competitors, there were no victims to file suit. Now SkyRiver provides exactly that. Now some kind of action can be taken.

I have no idea what will happen, but I’d sure love ringside seats.

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{July 14, 2010}   post-ALA travel

After ALA was over, my sweetie and I decided to visit New York for a few days, since we were over on the east coast and all, and since I had never been. Of course we made the obligatory stop at the New York Public Library.

me making a thumbs-up in front of the NYPL lions

Here I am, showing what I think about libraries.

Of course the library is overwhelmingly beautiful, with all that old-fashioned library reverence and ambiance of Serious Library Building. But when I found this room (after getting lost several times looking for the bathroom), I was blown away:

Catalog Room

from askpang, on Flickr

It’s the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room at NYPL. Imagine: a whole room, devoted to the catalog! There are so many things about this that just make my heart sing:

1. A whole room dedicated to the library catalog(s). Not just OPACs, but all the general and specialty print catalogs constructed over the years. All in one place. The fact that the catalog(s) are given their own room accords them importance in my eyes, and makes me think that the library sees them similarly.

2. This is where you start your search. This is where the reference desk is. It’s obvious that if you’re looking for something, this is the place to go, the place to be. I like the fact that reference service is but one of the many tools offered in the catalog room; that the room offers many different ways to help people with their quest.

3. The fact that it’s not just called the “catalog room,” but the “public catalog room.” I love that such a title expresses and encourages availability and access to all.

I know most libraries don’t have the dedicated space it would take for a catalog room; such a cordoning off at most places might likely actually have the opposite effect and deter public use, especially if the size were very small, or if it were off in some obscure location. And I still advocate for catalog access everywhere–in the stacks, at desks, on mobile phones and other interfaces–rather than containing and limiting it to one central space. But I still can’t help but appreciate the value accorded to the catalog through NYPL’s strategy. Thumbs up to that.



{July 13, 2010}   delayed ALA recap

Yeah, yeah, I know. ALA was over weeks ago and probably most people have forgotten about it and moved on by now. I wasn’t even going to mention it, since I don’t really have all that much to say–I spent most of my time being a DC tourist and seeing the city and the museums and the monuments. Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I’m prepared to come back to DC again for the next conference (since it does seem to be a hot location for such things).

I had a really hard time just getting into the ALA conference mindset this year. I would see sessions listed in the program schedule and think “oh, I should totally go to that, it would be really applicable to my job…oh wait.” Because I don’t have that job anymore. So I ended up skipping a lot of sessions I’d normally attend. I tried to go to things that might be relevant to my upcoming studies, but most of those ended up bust–the session I went to about publishing for the profession was really too basic for me (great as an intro, though) and one pane lthat I tried to attend, a panel of graduate student research presenations, not a single presenter showed up. Not the best ALA for me. Oh well.

I did manage to squeeze my way into the back of the room for the Year of Cataloging Research presentation, and I also got to speak to a whopping 8 or so people about using local note fields to recommend library resources. I also got to meet a couple of you blog readers and commenters in the flesh, which is always a treat, so there’s that!

All in all, I always like the in-person aspects of the conference, but this year’s ALA conference left me a little disappointed. Whether it was my perspective or the conference itself, or some combination of both, I don’t know. Not sure about next year, although I have never been to New Orleans…



et cetera