Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Conversations with Cataloguers in Wales

At the beginning of March I went to a cataloguing event for people working in libraries in Wales organised by Karen Pierce (@Darklecat), who has written up the event on her blog here.  It was an opportunity to get together with others working in the same field and build links.

The day consisted of a number of presentations (one of which I jointly presented!), followed by a discussion session at the end of the day and plenty of chances to chat to fellow cataloguers. Helen Price Saunders (@Ceridwen339) kicked things off with a fascinating talk on cataloguing the Salisbury Library at Cardiff University. The library is made up of books relating to Wales that were collected by Enoch Salisbury. The University acquired his collection in 1886, and has since been adding to it. Helen's talk was a great insight into the quirks relating to taking on a private collection and the interesting modifications that private collectors can make to items that can make identifying them a challenge, such as cutting and reassembling books into their own formats! She also talked about the in-house classification scheme used by Salisbury and inherited by the University when they took it over, and how that works (or not) with their own system.  She finished by discussing whether the collection will be reclassified to fit in with the Library of Congress scheme the University uses, or whether it will continue to use its own. There is a worry that it will lose its identity as a distinct collection if that happens.

Dorothy Hartley talked about the massive job of reclassifying the Thomas Parry Library at Aberystwyth University. Thomas Parry Library used to employ Universal Decimal ClassificationDewey Decimal Classification and Library of Congress classification schemes, but they began moving to one unified scheme (Library of Congress) in 2008. It was a mammoth task (well illustrated by a photo showing rows of trolleys filled with books!) which had to be done with as little disruption to students as possible.  However they finally finished in 2011, ahead of schedule!

After a short break Ken Gibbs and Karen discussed cataloguing the Cardiff Rare Books collection acquired by Cardiff University in 2010.  They explained how overwhelming a task it was as they didn’t have any prior experience, and that even after CILIP training they felt under prepared.  They have now taken on a full time cataloguer for 3 years to make a start.  They also talked about the many gems that have been turned up since they started working through the collection.

Then came the presentation I was dreading! Louise Carey (the Assistant Librarian) and I did a talk discussing the use of the Metropolitan Museum of Art classification system that we use for our art library. It was the first time we had done a presentation on this subject, so we were understandably a bit nervous. After I gave a brief introduction to the history of the museum and our library collections, Louise discussed the classification scheme and its pros and cons.  A copy of our slide show is available here.

Next was a great talk on the TermCymru database from Miranda Morton at the Welsh Government. TermCymru is a database of Welsh terminology which in addition to giving the Welsh term for a word, also provides a context and a rating on the terms status (widely accepted, official etc). She talked about the lack of consistency with search terms and the need to formalise and weed it.

During a break for lunch, many of us took the opportunity to look around the newly refurbished Trevithick Library.

The first speaker after lunch was supposed to be Elly Cope (@ellycope) but unfortunately she wasn’t able to make the event so Karen very bravely filled in and talked us through the massive project to reclassify the University of Bath library from Universal Decimal Classification to Dewey Decimal Classification. It sounded like a massive project which they were doing in stages, taking it subject by subject. The estimates for how long it would take to complete were in the region of another 15 years!

The final presentation was from Jemma Francis discussing archiving Welsh Government publications and making them available to both staff and the general public. She also discussed the current program to digitise the 30,000 items currently in the archive.

The day ended with a discussion, chaired by Steve Hunt from the CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group (CIG), on whether to create an all Wales cataloguing group. The consensus was that it would be a good idea to create one, but it was left undecided as to whether it should be a regional part of CIG (particularly as so few of the attendees were CILIP members) or a stand alone group.

We left with the agreement that it might take a little time to decide on the format of the group and what it was to achieve, so to provide a forum for sharing ideas it was agreed that a wiki should be set up. Anyone can sign up to post on the wiki, not just those who attended the event, details are available here