Thursday at OLA

The Changing Nature of the Catalogue
The second session on Thursday was called “The Changing Nature of the Catalogue” which featured Karen Calhoun of Cornell University. She cites the overwhelming focus on electronic resources as reason for why the catalogue and technical services needs to radically change. There has been an outcry over some of her proposals which seem to imply the eventual death of cataloguing. I think some of her statistics may be slanted for an academic setting since there appears to be a rise in the use of traditional print and A/V materials in public libraries as much as there has been a rise in the use of the Internet. I’m not sure if it’s a safe prediction that this is only temporary and eventually the information world will switch to exclusively digital.
 
The bottom line for Karen Calhoun is that new uses and new users need to be found for the catalogue to correct some of the cost/benefit imbalances. One product she mentioned, Endeca, is being used at North Carolina State University, and I heard from another source, is being bolted on top of Horizon at McMaster University. Endeca adds some Google features to the catalogue such as relevancy ranking and more search options.
 
Yahoo! and the Wisdom of Crowds 
After this sesson, I met up with Cathy Taylor, Marcia Watts, and Karen Cafarella and had lunch at Joe Badali’s. Later we attended a plenary session where a representative of Yahoo! discussed Yahoo! products such as FlickR, Yahoo Answers, and del.icio.us. The key message there was that these new tools were tapping into the “wisdom of crowds”, one of the hallmarks of the new Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 paradigm.
 
Re-awakening Passion for your Work
The last afternoon session for me was one called “Librarianship as a Profession : 20 Tips for Re-awakening Passion for Your Work”. The session was filled with motivating exercises and exhortations, as well as practical advice to seek out the positive from your chosen profession. Some of words of advice:
– refuse to put off promises any longer
– talk to veterans who have lost and found the “flow” of their lives and work
– normalize, don’t “catastrophize”, any negative feelings you may have
– be willing to step out of your competence zone
– stay away from energy suckers and those who make your ideas seem small; seek those who celebrate what you’re doing
 
I also learned about David Whyte, a “corporate poet”, who writes poems about the modern workplace to stir up the creative juices and to provide additional insight to the daily habits and assumptions of the world of work.
 

This is not the age of information.
This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry,
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

Government Document Librarians Congregate at a Pub
After the last session, I met up with some government document librarians at the Overdraught Irish Pub. It was interesting to hear that other libraries, even university libraries, were having the same problems as public libraries with electronic government document information. There was some discussion about better coordination of efforts, especially at the national level, but today each library is largely responsible for developing its own policies and seeking its own solutions. Last year I had attended a session on an effort to bring together municipal electronic government documents, but from what I gathered at my meeting today was that the municipal level remains as divided as before, making integrated programs difficult to get off the ground.
 
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