Category Archives: cataloguing

CPD23: Thing 21 Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

Thing 21: Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

As someone who’s been in the same job for six years but only has a contract till Christmas, this is a very useful Thing.
Interests – Personal
Children’s Fiction (old and new)
Crime fiction
Folk music
Clog dancing (yes, really…)
National Trust/English Heritage properties

Interests – Work related
Rare books
Project management
So obviously my dream job would be managing a project to catalogue a collection of books which included children’s fiction and crime fiction….  Or a folk music library.  Whilst that might happen, I think I would be waiting a long time for it to come along.  Particularly with a location limitation of “north east England, preferably Newcastle”.
I’ve found that I can craft my existing job to fit what I love instead of trying to find a new specifically cataloguing focused job.  Instead I  have promoted the importance of cataloguing to my trustees and implemented a new system.  As part of this, they have agreed that I need to spend the majority of my time correcting the existing catalogue records and pulling them up to MARC standards.  Sadly I also have to find time to manage the volunteers and the digitization projects but at least now I can officially justify how I spend the majority of my time.
My CV database is very much a paper file, but I am good about updating it with the training I go on and events that I attend.  Blogging has been a huge help with that – if nothing else, I have the blog entry to remind me of what I learnt from each event.
Interviews on the other hand, I hate with a passion.  I still partly believe that I got my existing job because I turned up at the interview despite a severe kidney infection and a canula for IV antibiotics still in my arm.  The hospital let me out for 3 hours for the interview then I had to go straight back in.  I sweet talked the consultant into it…  (When I got the job, I did take the staff at the hospital a very large box of biscuits.  I felt they deserved it)  I think the staff here decided that I really, really wanted the job!
I have an additional decision to make with interviews as well.  Do I disclose as a disabled person?  With the right adaptations, and on the right medications,  most days I no longer “feel” disabled but I accept that if I tried to do the job without those I would feel extremely disabled to the point of not being able to walk at all, or do a very good job as I would be in far too much pain to think clearly.  Perhaps I’m lucky that (most days) I have an invisible disability, (MCTD) but it also means I have to make that choice at some point in the jobseeking process.  I didn’t tell my existing employers until I was some months into the job, and just quietly created my adaptations for myself, using equipment I had bought at university thanks to Disabled Students Allowance.

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Filed under cataloguing, CPD 23

Cataloguing: Authority files

I’m in the unusual position of having a brand new cataloguing system to play with, which is great, but also terrifying…  I don’t even have any librarian colleagues here to ask, just lots of volunteers who expect me to instantly know the answer to obscure cataloguing questions.  I try and preserve the “trained librarian knowledgable mystique” bit but there are limits to how long I can keep that charade up and some help here would be appreciated.  In the name of preserving that mystique?

All our cataloguing records have been migrated across to the shiny new MARC21 system, JAMIE, and they have authors on those records, but the authority records have not come across.  The old system wasn’t MARC compliant and there was only so much the techies could do.  I knew the old authors list wasn’t up to much anyway, so I said we would rebuild it.  And now I have to make the decisions about HOW to rebuild it.  Obviously I have spent a lot of time on the Library of Congress MARC standards website and they also have some really handy tutorials hidden away under MARC Formats which I would recommend.  So I have read the one on Authorities thoroughly, however it contains the following (unhelpful) line:

It is important to note that the formulation of a name, or subject heading in an authority record is based on generally accepted cataloging and thesaurus-building conventions.


Generally accepted conventions??  So, my first thought was ISBD which is what LOC usually seem to send me to.  However the key letter in ISBD is B – bibliographic – not authorities.  So it wasn’t a lot of help.  So which conventions?  Could anyone give me the shortened version?  And before anyone asks, no, I don’t subscribe to any packages which might help with this.  I have a paper copy of 1967 ACCR2 and a pdf of ISBD and that’s it!  I can consult the most recent AACR2 at my local university library but it means a special trip to the other end of town, and it helps to know what I’m looking up…  I’m already quite left behind as it is.  Goodness only knows how far left behind I’ll be when RDA takes off next March.  There’s defnitely no funds for a subscription here so I’ll be very reliant on people’s blogs and comments on big changes.

My key questions would be:

  • what exactly do you put in 670?  And do you always use it, or just when there’s danger of confusion?
  • Do you expand an author’s name in 100a, or use the fuller form of name field?  I prefer 100a myself, would I be making a huge error by sticking to that?
  • I have been searching LOC and BL for each author and adding dates to 100d whenever they have them.  Is this how other people do it?
  • Do you put a full stop at the end of “Smith, John.”?  If there isn’t dates following it, then the LOC examples seem to have a full stop.  Is this because it’s the end of the area??
  • And are there any other crucial things I haven’t thought to ask?

I have asked some local friends, but not many people actually do original cataloguing anymore and those who do, are not on MARC21 so we’re having some confusion.

I was really pleased to read on various CIG conference blogs that authority files and the possibility of a UK NACO funnel was proposed by Deborah Lee.  By a strange coincidence, I had been reading about NACO funnels just that very day online, then suddenly it started popping up in my Twitter feed!  Sharing work on authority files would be fantastic.

Thanks in advance if anyone can help me…



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NAG Conference – and #CPD23 Thing15 2012

NAG Conference came around at the perfect time for Thing 15 (yes I know I’ve missed 14, but quite frankly, I couldn’t find a use for any of them last time around which is why I stalled at Thing 13…  I’ll go back and try again.  Soon.  I promise).

National Acquisitions GroupNAG is the National Acquisitions Group and their tagline is “For everyone interested in the acquisition, management and development of library resources”.  I had heard of them, thanks to a personal link, but I didn’t really feel part of their target audience as I don’t have an acquisitions budget.

Despite that, what I am involved with is Library Management Systems, also part of NAG’s remit.  Until recently, all I had ever done was enter data into an LMS, trying desperately to follow all available rules I could get my hands on and not to mess anything up.  However, last November our catalogue crashed.  Spectacularly.  The supplier simply suggested we upgrade to their latest product.  For £19k.  We declined.

So Open Source was our next thought and we researched and discovered I liked the front end of Koha but needed the back end of Evergreen.  “Why not merge?” says the ICT volunteer.  Well, why not it turns out!  We now have JAMIE which is just that and is working very well.  I’m still dealing with the data in it, but that’s not the software’s fault!  Turns out our old system wasn’t MARC compliant so getting the data across has been a struggle as some fields simply aren’t there.  And it wasn’t really in a proper database structure either…  I’ve had to get a lot more hands on with the LMS backend and SQL, but I’m learning a lot along the way.

So, the NAG organisers wanted someone to come and talk about moving to an open source LMS and so invited me along.  I asked if I could bring the magical ICT volunteer, James Watson, who made it all happen and they were very happy with that.  (Phew, I didn’t want to answer the technical questions on exactly how he did it…) They helpfully also held the conference in York.  We do like Northern events.  So much easier!

James and Jennifer at NAG conference

James explains the technical stuff while I look on…

At first the very idea of actually presenting at a conference did give me a sleepless night or two.  Once it was written and we’d had a few rehearsals though, I felt a lot better.  I think it helped that I really believed in what we were promoting and I had been involved in all the stages along the way.  I tried hard to be positive about JAMIE rather than bitter about where we had been let down by the previous supplier, but it’s a tricky line to walk.

But at the end of the day, we did it!  And I never have to do that for the first time again which is a huge relief.  Also, we had a great opportunity to network with other librarians and suppliers (always important as a Solo):

Networking picture

Lots of opportunities to chat and network were provided…

Jen chatting to other library people

Networking is always better with cake…

And some fantastic cake also was provided…
And this is what we said:
From Proprietary to Open Source

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Filed under cataloguing, CPD 23, Events

Analytical cataloguing – or Tables of Contents in records

Sometimes I have to say that I love Twitter!

Cataloguing as a solo librarian is hard.  You can’t just turn to your neighbour and say, “so what shall we do about…”  I tried discussing the problem with library users and volunteers and they all agreed that it was indeed a problem and there was various ways I could solve it, but they couldn’t possibly give an opinion on which…

My problem is that I have a lot of books with very vague titles such as “Tales of Railwaymen” then have lots of much more descriptive titles inside.  Then in a similar problem, I have a whole set of bound pamphlets called “Tracts volume X” with lovely, unique random things hidden inside behind that very dull title.  So I need a way of reflecting all that hidden content on the catalogue.

I couldn’t decide whether I needed to make one catalogue record for each article in a book and put “bound in Tales of the Railwaymen” somewhere, or whether I needed to make one record of “Tales of the Railwaymen” and put “includes x, y and z” somewhere.

So I turned to Twitter and posted:
Does anyone else try to catalogue articles within books written by different people? And in what MARC field? #cataloguing #cataloging

In return Katie Birkwood (@Girlinthe) helpfully said:
I think that’s called analytic cataloguing, and the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge do it. >
And even better, she retweeted my question to her followers.

Since then I have had fantastic replies from five different librarians with ideas about how they work with this in their collections.

Turns out, I had completely the wrong idea on which MARC field to use and what I needed was 505 (Formatted Contents Note) which is for “Titles of separate works or parts of an item or the table of contents”.  This can be used to create huge lists of contents (as @lynncorrigan proved with an example from Edinburgh Napier).

As a further complication though Celine Carty did warn that this can cause filing problems as it doesn’t have the option to ignore non-filing characters at the start of $t as you can in 245.  Her solution is to use the 505a with added entries in 700 and 740.

So my final solution is to make a record for “Tales of the Railwaymen” then to add in 505a the list of what it has in it, “Cards and Characters / Reg Coote — High Days at Holloway / George Case……” then to add 700 and 740 entries for each of those.  It sounds like a lot of work but now at least I know what needs to be done and I can write a set of rules and a training sheet on it, and volunteers can learn to carry it out!

A further solution offered for the Tracts collection, is to create a record and an item for each tract in the volume, then use 501 to say “bound with 20 other Tracts on accidents” then give a location of “Tracts vol 52.”

Finally, it would be great to make some changes on the OPAC display so that all these carefully created notes aren’t hidden away behind the Notes tab on display.  Hmm, a further thing to work on.


Filed under cataloguing


Sometimes it seems there are just too many acronyms and too many different sets of rules.  At university we covered AACR2 , well, the concise version at least, and MARC was at least mentioned (briefly – for about an hour!)  None of the others featured at all, although as this was 2006 I will excuse them not mentioning RDA I suppose.

My collections at work include such a wide range of material, from standard new books, to rare books, archival material and then objects.  Like this, which was donated today:

model of the underground seams of a mine

Well I can give it a barcode.  And measure it.  After that it gets challenging…  Whose rules do I use for this one?  I mostly go with an adaptation of AACR2 as the ones I know best, but perhaps switching to another set of rules would actually make my life easier?

Of course, none of them can help with where on earth I am going to store it!

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Filed under Acquisitions, cataloguing, Questions

Evergreen in Scotland event

Evergreen in Scotland event 19/10/11

This event was funded by PTFS, a support company for Open Source Library Management systems Evergreen and Koha.  It was organised in conjunction with the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) and introduced the SEDAR consortium from Stirling and East Dumbartonshire public libraries.

After frustration with their existing Library Management system vendor, several Scottish libraries were looking for more control but also the back-up of external hosting, training and support.  Another advantage was control over developing code to solve problems, then being able to share that freely with other libraries, rather than the vendor charging each local authority to develop the same piece of useful code.  They intend to feed back new developments back into the Evergreen open source community for other libraries to use without cost.

The process of specifications then tenders began in October 2010, with the contract awarded to PTFS in January 2011.  Overall it should provide 30% revenue savings.  The system is due to go live on the 1st of December and it will be the first Evergreen installation in the UK.

I’m a huge believer in Open Source software generally, especially in libraries with lower budgets, and I have always resented paying the annual licensing fee for our library management software for a system that doesn’t really fulfil our needs.  We are constantly using workarounds because we cannot change the system and I don’t feel I have real access to the database behind the software.  This became even more apparent when we started looking at data migration and moving our library data into a new system.

Evergreen started in 2004 with 4 people employed to provide a better LMS for the state of Georgia in the USA.  The system went live in 2006 then the original developers went on to form Equinox – now the main support company in the USA.  The LMS is now used by 521 systems in 1,106 outlets, still primarily in the USA and public libraries.  From my point of view, I was interested to hear this included 36 special libraries and I would like to contact some of those in the future.  The increased number of organisations using Evergreen has increased the number of developers and also the pace of change.  Version 2.0 of Evergreen was released on January 26th 2011, and 2.1 has now been released on October 4th with some significant new changes.  New updates are now expected every six months.

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