Although I am sure others will blog about #CIG12 in a more indepth manner* I just wanted to express my delight about the excellent conference that took place earlier this week in Sheffield. Two days packed full of thought provoking presentations, 25 speakers and just over 100 attendees; at times my brain was hurting, and I felt weighed down with concern about the things I didn’t know but really should; whilst at other moments I felt proud to be a cataloguer, and inspired to tackle new things.
There were four themed sessions spread out over the two days; Working with new standards, Working co-operatively, New challenges for cataloguers; and Developing working practices. RDA, as to be expected, was a key issue to be talked about. Celine Carty brought us updates from the ALA conference, and managed to succinctly condense 5 days into one talk. It was extremely useful hearing about the view from across the pond, and she also gave us a great handout of links too!
There was quite a contrast between this conference and the last CIG conference in 2010 with
attitudes to RDA, from what I can remember of two years ago, most people in the room weren’t really sure about how they would be tackling RDA, and were waiting for guidance from someone else. This time round a good 50% of the audience were actively preparing for RDA, were devising training sessions for their staff (or looking for online material they could use), or were very aware of what work they had to do. I also don’t think that anyone in the room was thinking of it as ‘Retirement Day Approaching’. Celine Carty passed on some take home messages; things like “its now when not if” and “evolution not revolution”, she also commented that actually it can be quite good not to be the trailblazers. While the rules are still being refined, and problems still being ironed out, its quite nice to be able to learn from what is happening in the US. Stuart Hunt also gave us some food for thought in his session on ‘Implementing RDA in your ILS’, and pointed out that as well as us cataloguers having to get our heads round RDA, that we also had a lot of communication work to do – we need to talk to system vendors, and record supply agencies, colleagues who work on the front line and those who are library management. We also need to consider whether our systems are ready for RDA, there are new fields, will they display or be indexed, will there be problems loading data into the system etc etc. Anne Welsh & Katharine White also reminded us that there is always change, and we already have hybrid systems. We need to accept that there never was a better time to embrace RDA, although we should question everything; and that standards, materials, and even students are always evolving.
Although RDA was casting a big shadow over us, there were plenty of other topics to discuss too. Deborah Lee introduced the idea of the proposed UK NACO funnel, a project to collaborate on creating authority files. Traditionally a funnel is managed by one person which is a huge commitment, and there can be delay in training new members to join; this current project however is aiming for a cascade of training and aims to get as many participants acting independently as soon as possible with a critical mass of people who are happy to train others. It will be a great professional development opportunity for anyone who gets involved.
As we are probably all aware we are in the midst of a time of many challenges for cataloguers, as Heather Jardine noted – ‘change is the new normal’. We are having to face restructuring and streamlining, changes in roles, as well as changes in rules and materials. There were several presentations demonstrating how various cataloguers are adapting to these challenges including Helen Williams’ overview of ‘transforming a bibliographic services team from copy cataloguers to metadata creators’. Her team have had a growing involvement in their institutional repository LSERO; with a review of workflows, additional training and comprehensive documentation the team have become multi-skilled, and better future-proofed.
Shelf-ready reared its ugly head towards the end of the conference (sorry, I admit I am not a fan!). What still stood out for me, (and is one of my biggest problems with the whole shelf ready thing), was the standard of records being supplied – the poor quality, wrong classmarks, e-book records for print records, etc etc and even some poor processing. What kind of service do vendors think they are providing? And since so many of us are guilty of ‘smug tweaking’* why aren’t there more ‘good’ records available?
I haven’t mentioned everybody who talked, but would like to say I gained something from every speaker; I’m not a fan of cricket but really enjoyed hearing abut the Marylebone Cricket Club library courtesy of Neil Robinson, and the challenges he faced with revamping a bespoke classification system (and his corridor of uncertainty); and even though I’m not a fan of shelf-ready I appreciated hearing about experiences from Sheffield with Emily Bogie, and Warwick with Christina Claridge. And I really should mention the High visibility cataloguing blog and Cat23 – a project I’m keen to hear more about.
The conference was great, the people were great, and as a tiny aside I was extremely pleased with the range of cold/soft drinks available at break times! I don’t drink tea/coffee, and wouldn’t expect more than a glass of water to be offered (don’t even get that sometimes), so a multitude of fridges with a variety of beverages made me very happy! The cakes were good too…
I also really liked that there weren’t any parallel sessions – so I got to hear everybody; and the concept of having lightning round talks was good too. Ten minute snippets of projects and ideas, although shame-facedly I over ran in my own sessions and got flashed the ‘red card’.
My only regret is that I didn’t get to talk to some people who are Twitter contacts (we need Twitter icons/names on our badges!); however, I did talk to people who I didn’t previously know, and that is always a good thing. I’m looking forward to the next CIG conference already!
* Can’t remember who coined this phrase at the conference, so apologies are due! However, I do have to put my hand up and admit that I indulge in this practice.
All the presentations are due to be added to the CIG website soon.