On Tuesday 6th March 2012 over 40 people gathered in a room in Cardiff to talk about cataloguing. Frankly I was amazed that so many people wanted to attend an event on cataloguing in Wales, but I was also delighted and believe it demonstrated that there is a need or a desire for events of this type to be held. Attendees travelled from as far as Wrexham, Aberystwyth, Lampeter and Carmarthen, as well as coming from Swansea, Newport, Merthyr and Bridgend, and they represented academic libraries, public libraries, government libraries and museums. As they waited for the day to begin they enjoyed coffee and welsh cakes and seemed excited to see the room filling up so much.
The first session for the day focussed on reclassification projects, one from Cardiff University which has essentially yet to start, and one from Aberystwyth University which was completed ahead of schedule.
Helen Price Saunders started the day off with her talk Reclassification, collection management and ideas of nation: the Salisbury Library. Enoch Salisbury (1819-1890) built up a large collection of books over 60 years, predominantly of Welsh interest (in Welsh, about Wales, by Welsh writers, about the Welsh borders). The collection was acquired by the University College of South Wales & Monmouthshire (through some secret machinations) in 1886 when Salisbury was beset with financial difficulties. It was hoped that the collection might form a basis for a National Library, but these hopes were not realised for Cardiff. The collection is now housed in the Arts & Social Studies Library at Cardiff University, but is split in two – the older part of the collection being held in Special Collections, and the rest on the top floor of the library. The in-house classification scheme for this collection is relatively simple; it covers the ‘celtic’ languages in general with the ‘Welsh’ section being more comprehensive. It has grown and fluctuated over the years, and has some rather erroneous sections. Helen pointed out some of her favourite ‘bad bits’ which included WG1 – General, Encyclopaedias, etc alongside WG45 Encyclopaedias. There were also three separate numbers covering Theology.
Over the years there have been complaints and requests to have the system changed. The rest of the library in that building uses Library of Congress, so this is the classification scheme that would be used. However, LOC has its own ‘bad bits’ for example “For Wales, see England” and doesn’t really cope with the specificity needed. The identity of the collection has always been important, but has gradually been eroded over the years, changing the classification scheme will only add to this. Helen has been left with a difficult task in deciding upon the best options for the collection and its classification, whilst continuing to maintain its unique identity.
The second talk of the morning was by Dorothy Hartley – “All change please!” The end of the line for Dewey and UDC at Aberystwyth University. The Thomas Parry library at Aberystwyth University used to have three classification schemes in use; UDC, DDC and LoC. This was due to various mergers of institutions over the years. Their first plan was to turn all the items classified by UDC into DDC, with the thought that in time the LoC section would also be weeded and reclassified too. They carried out a classification mapping exercise and began some initial work on the project. However, yet another insitutional merger in 2007 prompted another rethink about classification schemes, the bringing together of books in one location, and the ease with which they could transfer books between libraries and the decision was made to reclassify everything to LoC instead. There were 9500 books from one library that needed cataloguing on the LMS and reclassifying from UDC to LoC, and anther 38000 already in stock but with DDC or UDC classmarks. Work began in April 2008 with a target finish date of Summer 2012. Various issues had to be dealt with, ranging from highly specialised subject matter areas and stock duplication between three sites. In the Thomas Parry library, the library space was in constant use so they had to avoid disruption for users as much as possible, as well as a having a long overdue weed take place. Communication was key, and they kept people informed in a variety of ways including academic liaison, the library newsletter, and the undergraduate librarianship course used the project as a case study. Weeding was important, and some subject librarians managed to weed their section before the reclassification took place, although this wasn’t always the case. The project was completed ahead of schedule in December 2011. Dorothy felt that there were several benefits for doing all the reclassification in-house, which included greater flexibility, more time for imput from colleagues and academic staff, and kept the work local which was important in a rural location. They also noticed that their team-working skills were enhanced, and they got to know colleagues much better.
It was extremely positive to hear about a project finishing early, and to see that by deciding to do the work in-house, staff gained from the experience.