From the catalogs of babes

{March 17, 2010}   a survey of a different color

Well, we may not be contributing to the Year of Cataloging Research, but at least somebody is:

As seen on Celeripedean: Elaine Sanchez of Texas State University is conducting a Survey on RDA and AACR2 .

Please go there. Take the survey. Let’s see what working catalogers really think.

I’m also intrigued by the second “brief” survey, Your Feelings About You Cataloging (Metadata) Profession. Brief? That’s funny–I confess I haven’t filled this one out yet, but you’d better believe I will. I have so much I want to say, much of which has already been said here on this blog. I’m trying to think of a way of cutting + pasting my major points while still retaining the ‘anonymity’ a survey deserves. I wonder what the character limit is on those answer fields…

{March 17, 2010}   survey results

I haven’t been posting much here lately, and it’s partially because I’m depressed. Why?

About 2 weeks ago I was told that both the reclassification proposal and the student & faculty survey were rejected by the Board of Directors. Because I know you’ll ask why: I was not given any substantial reason. Yes, I have more I’d like to say about it. No, I’m not really comfortable posting about it on a public blog, unfortunately. But buy me a drink at the next conference and I promise to tell you all about it. So much so that you’ll probably regret buying me that drink.

I’m saddened to  have to hold back my thoughts and opinions, because one thing I’ve always tried to do here is to be very open and real, and less about lofty, idealized concepts that cutting edge libraries are implementing, but rather the day-to-day accomplishments and struggles of “real life” in the library catalog. 

While I have lots of things I’d really like to say but won’t, there is one thing I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut about, and that’s what kind of message an organization–any organization–sends out when it decides not to survey its users, for whatever reason, valid or not. I think unwillingness to survey your users is a tangible example of disinterest in what your patrons think and want. As a user, I’d be upset with any organization that so blatantly demonstrates that they don’t care what I think.

If they don’t care what I think, why should I care about them? No wonder libraries are losing support. I wouldn’t support an organization with that attitude, either.

{February 11, 2010}   a heart made of red tape

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I wanted to make sure to express my gratitude to everyone who posted examples of alternative classification systems. So many great examples, and all the information was very useful. Thank you all so very much!

What was it being used for, you ask? Well, I if you recall, back in the fall I proposed a new classification system for our library, as well as a survey to our students and faculty regarding classification and findability in the libraries. I’ve spent the last few weeks running around  trying to finalize the survey and get it going, as well as making presentations to, having discussions with, and gathering feedback from internal library staff.

Originally the discussions were scheduled for the week before Christmas, then put off due to staff vacations, then rescheduled because I was out of town, then rescheduled for illness, etc., etc. Finally we rescheduled for 2 weeks ago, and the initial presentation went well, but not all library staff were able to attend and so there was an encore the following week. All this, and we haven’t even been able to distribute the survey yet.

Why not? Because we’re still waiting for approval from the library director. I was hoping that would happen this week, after jumping through all the presentation hoops, but he still had some questions, and we were to meet today to clear up any lingering concerns. But he didn’t feel well, and had to reschedule, and the next available time when we are both in the library is two weeks from now.

We were supposed to distribute this survey to the faculty the third week of January, and to the students mid-February. Well, we’re there now and pretty much all we’re waiting for is a sign-off. I’m beginning to get a little frustrated that this has to take so long, that something so superficially simple has to be bogged down by bureaucracy. I know it happens everywhere, and it’s just a fact of life, but red tape is simply one of my biggest pet peeves that pushes all my frustration buttons.

Sometimes I think it’s a miracle anything in libraries gets accomplished at all. No wonder there’s not more needs assessment going on. Sigh. Happy Valentine’s Day.

I know it’s barely Thanksgiving, but time is going by so fast that it feels like it’s practically 2010 already. It’s going to be here before we know it.

According to the current issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 2010 has been dubbed “The Year of Cataloging Research.” I’d heard rumors of this at ALA, but forgot about it until I saw it mentioned again yesterday.

Oddly enough, yesterday was also the day I met with our head of institutional research to discuss surveying library users about findability of materials in the library. Coincidence?

Remember the proposal I submitted for library reclassification? I got a green light to proceed, and it specifically included assessment as one of the first steps. We’re working on designing a short survey for faculty and students about how easy or hard it is for them to find books, DVDs, magazines, and other research materials in the libraries. If all goes according to plan, the survey will be distributed to faculty in late January 2010, and will appear to students via the online student portal in mid-February.

I’m so excited! I can hardly wait to see the responses. I have gut instincts and observational experiences that color my expectations of the results. But like Carlyle says in her editorial, “we need to have real evidence for the claims we want to make.” I’m so very interested to see what our library users really think, instead of just doing my best to made educated guesses from experience and observation. 

Is it really just coincidence that we’re going to be starting off 2010 with some cataloging research of our own? Well, probably. But I’m gonna milk it anyway, for all it’s worth.

et cetera