The October 2022 e-Forum focused on cataloging and was co-hosted by Joy DuBose from Mississippi State University, Jennifer Eustis from University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Liz Simmons from Genesee Community College. The participants ranged from newer catalogers, metadata specialists, and archivists to those familiar with the field.
The cataloging field is ever changing as newer technologies are released. As a result, cataloging workflows also evolve and catalogers have to learn new skills. Participants shared that they have been learning new skills such as SQL, Python, MarcEdit, how to use OCLC’s API, and how to catalog materials with unusual formats.
Some of the materials with unusual formats were concrete, seeds, ukuleles, board games, surveyor imaging, and sewing machines. To process these unusual materials, catalogers generally had a similar workflow, a major part of which was to conduct research. This research involved checking RDA toolkit, looking for examples of records, looking for best practices from authoritative groups, checking OCLC, and consulting with colleagues.
Participants also discussed efforts and special projects to address diversity and inclusion as it relates to the library catalog. A few specific resources were shared, such as The Cataloging Lab, Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms, Homosaurus, collectionHQ’s DEI reports, and the Critical Cataloging Repository created by the Oregon Technical Services Round Table.
With the COVID pandemic traditional workflows suffered. Staff retired or were let go. Disruptions in the supply chain also made it difficult to get materials. However, it did allow time for personnel to learn new skills and focus on different projects that may have previously gone to the wayside. These include clean up projects, batch loading, and streamlining traditional workflows.
After the pandemic, workflows continued to be re-thought and re-envisioned. Some implemented a grid workflow to help with orders. Others have seen a shift into off site work and into working a hybrid method. As the workflows changed, many technical services departments also had open houses or created “Life of a book” presentations. These were designed to help others understand technical services workflows.
– Joy DuBose, Jennifer Eustis, and Liz Simmons, e-Forum moderators