Event Report: Cataloguing Matters

"Fantastic as always to join in the #cataloguing and #metadata discussion with @BeginningCat - highly recommend attending these seminars live!" - @EmmaE_B on twitter

There are still a few days to sign up for the recording of last month’s seminar on Cataloguing Matters.

As is always the way, the best of the discussion happened after the introductory presentation, and it was great to hear from participants what is happening in their corner of the cataloguing and metadata world. The Chatham House Rule applies, and the recording captures only my initial presentation.

In it I talked a little about how cataloguing has changed over the years, beginning with the card catalogue days in which I began my professional career, and examining the core principles by which we still work. Perhaps controversially, I presented a view that while work to add large sets of metadata to catalogues and discovery engines is vital and important, there is still a need for cataloguing at the individual level. There are some materials whose metadata is simply going to be wanted by so few libraries that I believe they will never be cost effective for data suppliers to prioritise other than as a specific project for a specific client. (Note: data and metadata suppliers do undertake such work, and usually with the added benefit that fresh records are added to their wider pool).

We had a look in some detail at Calhoun’s significant report, The Changing Nature of the Catalog and Its Integration with Other Discovery Tools (Library of Congress, 2006), and thought about contexts in which its very true observations about national and academic libraries simply cease to pertain in some other organisations. I highlighted Jewett’s original calculation, that creating a stereotyped catalogue of shared records would still leave around a third of the materials needing to be catalogued by individual libraries – or, at least, by his individual library, the Smithsonian, on which he was basing his calculations (p. x).

We also talked a little about the National Acquisition Group’s report on the Quality of Shelf-ready Metadata (NAG, 2020), and discussed how in it we can see academic libraries following the same cycle we have seen in public libraries over the last 10-15 years.

The news from the public library sector is quite bright, though. As well as the Bridgend Library cataloguing project, about which we’ll hear more on Wednesday, when Harriet Hopkins (Awen Cultural Trust) and Amy Staniforth (CILIP Cymru Wales) are discussing Training Matters with us, there are several library authorities who are in the process of commissioning bespoke training for their staff. Local Studies collections are often the repository of exactly the kind of semi-published and privately printed materials that it can be difficult to locate and download from databases of shared cataloguing. Such materials can often seem more complex to non-cataloguers than many of the standard books for which it’s easy to download a perfect dataset.

I’ll be picking up this refrain in a little more detail in the article I’ve been commissioned to write for the next issue of Catalogue and Index, which, like all their issues, will be available open access. It will also contain a piece by Emma Booth on why Metadata Matters, as well as other articles on advocacy for our area of the information professions. I’ll pop a link to the new issue here, and, of course, in the newsletter when the Catalogue and Index editors let us know it is out.

In the meantime, I hope to see some of you at our seminar with Harriet and Amy on Wednesday.

Unpacking Your Library

Unpacking Your Library

This post republishes a piece which was originally commissioned by myVLF and published on their blog as ‘Unpacking Your Library: 10 Top Tips to Organise Your Bookshelves’, myVLF, 3 September 2020.

Whether working, furloughed or simply unable to go out and socialise as much as usual, Covid-19 has given many of us more time at home. Many people have been unpacking their libraries (to use Walter Benjamin’s phrase), building reading nooks and reorganising their shelves. There’s a great tradition of writing to help us in doing this, and especially on the impact that sorting through our books has on us.

If you want to know how to organise your personal library and bookshelves, here are ten top tips based on practical experience and from ten of my favourite books.

Continue reading “Unpacking Your Library”

Farewell and Thanks to myVLF


As both a reader and a writer, I wanted to acknowledge the work of Gwynn GB, Kelly Clayton, and Deborah Carr in creating and managing virtual literary festival platform myVLF, which has sadly had to close its doors.

As well as attending many online events there, I was fortunate enough to gain a paid commission to write a blog post for them in September 2020, giving 10 Top Tips to Organise Your Bookshelves. I’ll republish it on the Beginnings Blog now that myVLF is, sadly, no more.

Writing on their website The Blonde Plotters, Gwynn, Kelly and Deborah said:

“When Covid-19 hit our world, we worked flat-out holding as many events as we could and supporting hundreds of authors with their book launches, as well as helping many physical book festivals to reach new audiences … Unfortunately, the huge workload in running so many events, resulted in us not being able to concentrate on our own writing careers. We live for writing and so regretfully we have decided to close MyVLF so that we can reconnect with our author careers and families.”

It Takes an Information Community to Raise a Business

With some people working from home, some wanting to leave face-to-face services with customers who are not compliant with social distancing rules, and some staring down the barrel of redundancy, there have possibly never been more information professionals contemplating self-employment. Here are some tips and resources from my experience this year setting up Beginning Cataloguing.

>>> Continue reading on ILI 365 >>>

With thanks to Marydee Ojala for commissioning this article, and featuring it as the top story on the ILI 365 website. Their latest newsletter includes an article on Google Trends by Marydee herself.

2020 Blog Posts by Ash Green

Ash Green profile picture

2020 was a busy and creative time for Ash. As well as helping get Beginning Cataloguing off the ground and running our first online workshop, they collaborated with lots of other people, some of whom they mention in their end-of-year round-up.

Here are some blog posts that Ash wrote or co-wrote last year, which, although completed outside their role as a Beginning Cataloguing Associate, may well be of interest to you:

Steven Dryden and Ash Green (2020). ‘LBTQ+ Lives Online’, UK Web Archive Blog, 31 July, https://blogs.bl.uk/webarchive/2020/07/lgbtq-lives-online-.html.

Steven Dryden and Ash Green (2020). ‘LGBTQ+ Lives Online: Introducing the Lead Curators’, UK Web Archive Blog, 3 November, https://blogs.bl.uk/webarchive/2020/11/lgbtq-lives-online-introducing-the-lead-curators.html.

Steven Dryden and Ash Green (2020). ‘LGBTQ+ Lives Online Web Archive Collection’, UK Web Archive Blog, 25 November, https://blogs.bl.uk/webarchive/2020/11/lgbtq-lives-online-web-archive-collection.html.

Ash Green (2020). ‘Reflections During International Games Week and Transgender Awareness Week’, Digital Scholarship Blog, 13 November, https://blogs.bl.uk/digital-scholarship/2020/11/reflections-during-international-games-week-and-transgender-awareness-week.html.

Ash Green (2020). ‘Winter Folklore in Video Games’, Cresswell Crags Blog, 18 December, https://www.creswell-crags.org.uk/2020/12/18/winter-folklore-in-video-games-a-guest-blog-post-by-ash-green.

You can keep up with Ash’s work outside Beginning Cataloguing by following them on Twitter and / or reading their blog, Ash Green Creates.

Unpacking Your Library: Books about Book Organization

As well as cataloguing home and studio libraries, we offer services to organise them and advice on how to do so.

Anne Welsh‘s latest publication is a blog post at myVLF.com sharing top tips on how to organise your library.

You can read the tips in full on the myVFLF Blog (update: myVLF ceased trading in 2021, and the blog is republished here) alongside lots of other bookish posts. Librarian to the core, we thought it might be helpful to share a bibliography of the books and articles mentioned. Wherever possible, we’ve shared links to fulltext, WorldCat libraries, the original publisher, and secondhand sellers, in that order.

Continue reading “Unpacking Your Library: Books about Book Organization”