Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Good Practices for Great Outcomes: Cataloging Efficiencies

Several weeks ago, I attended a day-long workshop hosted by OCLC at the Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Neighborhood Library in Washington D.C. The day was broken up into two main parts. In the morning, we heard presentations from a number of folks on a variety of topics. After general introductions, Christopher Cole, the Associate Director for Technical Services at the National Agricultural Library, spoke about trends in technical services. Coming to the position with the benefit of years of experience, Cole provided some interesting insights into where we as a profession have come from, and where he thinks we are going. Although there were few surprises in the outlook he presented (more automation, more reuse of metadata, more cooperation with partners outside the library world), it was nonetheless interesting to hear such musings presented in Cole's affable manner.

Cole's presentation was followed up by a talk given by the Senior Training Coordinator at OCLC, Mary Alice Robinson. The take-away that I got from Robinson's presentation was that we as a technical services department here at Hopkins are pretty far ahead of the curve when it comes to cataloging efficiencies! Robinson discussed a great many services and workflow efficiencies offered by OCLC, and we are already taking advantage of most of them. Robinson concluded her talk by discussing some of the future projects that OCLC is working on. The most interesting of these to me was an OCLC research prototype called Classify. According to OCLC's website, Classify is a FRBR-based prototype, available at, designed to assist catalogers in assigning classification numbers and subject headings. It will be very interesting to follow the progression of this prototype as it moves forward.

The second half of the day was more of a question and answer, small group discussion. These are always useful, as they give participants a great opportunity to peek into libraries and organizations around the area and see how other departments function. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to discuss issues impacting us all with colleagues from all different kinds of libraries.

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