First of all, and I should really know this by now, librarians always seem to keen to share their knowledge and get to know you. This group was no exception. I only knew a couple of other attendees IRL, although I "knew" some of the others from Twitter, yet I quickly met a whole crowd of people all exchanging information, opinions and advice. Apart from anything else, it was enormous fun (well, have you ever been in a pub with about 30 cataloguers before?!). People had even made cake to share.
Second, don't be scared about the future. Yes, there are big changes coming - not only RDA, but also the world we work in is changing, especially in the current economic climate. Yet we heard from some brilliant speakers about how their libraries had weathered storms in the past (Heather Jardine pointed out that everyone had survived the arrival of AACR2). There was such a range of experience present: some libraries were still using UKMARC, others were about to jump to RDA. There was controversy: is MARC really about to die? (probably). Many people talked about the advantages of collaborative working, which offers so many advantages. My favourite was Deborah Lee, on NACO funnels. I'd love to join a NACO funnel, but I doubt it would be possible for me at the moment! And I really enjoyed Ian Fairclough talking about collaborating to improve bibliographic data quality - check out Typo of the day for librarians! There was a definite feeling of we're all in this together.
Third, librarians can really make a difference. Well, we knew that, but does the rest of the world? Dave Pattern's keynote address reported on research that shows how library use can predict what grade students will get (amusingly, there is even a 2am rise in library use for students who get lower grades - demonstrating that they've left it to the last minute. Apparently the best achievers are in the library by 9am). How does knowing that affect how we promote our library services?
Other key points, which I've made into a list of Things To Do (either immediately or later):
- Make the most of the functionality in your catalogue and what it can tell you about how people are searching it. Then use that data to enhance catalogue records.
- Cataloguing consistency AND workflow are important - how to catalogue consistently, speedily but still providing what users need. This means making some strategic decisions about outsourcing work, prioritisation, using tools that can speed things up and making use of controlled vocabularies.Areas all touched on repeatedly in presentations by Lucy Bell, Michael Emly and Gary Green.
- Also, don't ignore the history of your catalogue. Keep a record of the cataloguing decisions you take, so that future generations of people working with your catalogue will know what they're dealing with (Anne Welsh and Katharine Whaite).
- Start thinking in terms of data in networks, rather than hierarchical trees (Simon Barron). RDA is the perfect opportunity to think about how we can do this.
- Find out more about RDA. Céline Carty updated us on RDA, having been to the ALA annual conference in Anaheim. She provided a handout with helpful links to the RDA Essentials webinars, amongst other resources. Stuart Hunt provided practical tips on implementing RDA in your ILS. Both recommended exploring the RDA Toolkit, if you have access to it.
- Look into ways to promote the value of cataloguing, for example, through the High Visibility Cataloguing blog. Try to make the most of networking opportunities. (Céline Carty, Karen Pierce and Rachel Playforth)
I also attended the FRBR training after the conference but I'll blog about that separately.