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Solo cataloguing at the NSPC

February 26, 2011

This week has been all about the cataloguing. I personally enjoy catalouging, although I know a lot of people who hate it with a passion. One friend even went as far to place the words AACR2, Room 101, and torture in the same sentence. But this is not the case for me.

 The first half of the week was spent focusing on a library school deadline where I had to make my own cataloguing policy for a library explaining local practices. Prior to this I wasn’t aware too much about local practice, I am fortunate enough to catalogue in a department where my line manager is always encouraging me to check what AARC2 and MARC21 instructs me to do. Yet it was really eye-opening seeing how some places interpret these rules to suit their own collections, or how much information they include to reflect the amount of time they can spend on each record. For me it was one of the most interesting deadlines so far on the MA course, mainly because I feel I have quite a firm grasp on cataloguing for how long I have been working in libraries, and instead of following these rules to the letter I was able to imagine cataloguing past the regulations and into the practical.

The second half of my week was spent in a new temporary post. The NSPC (New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling) has recently moved to new premises following their departure from collaborating with Schiller International University, and all their books are barcoded but have no library records. That is where I come in. There are roughly 4,000 books which need cataloguing, until then they can’t browse the books on a catalogue from at the school or at home.

The main hurdle in this whole project was implementing a library management system (LMS, or ILS, integrated library system). As some of these can be pretty expensive it was settled we would go with an open source option. The first choice was Koha, but it some became apparent that the existing operating system the NSPC had did not support it. This was a shame as I’ve heard some really great things about Koha. Alas, after my line manager did some research (one helpful slideshare here) it was settled that we would go with OpenBiblio. In comparison to others it didn’t come out top but due to the small size of the library’s holdings and the nature of the student’s library use, the fact the ‘search’ options weren’t very advanced didn’t seem too important. I was advised that the students know specifically which texts they need and browsing on the open shelf is easier for them to come across new material. I do hope this to be true as the searching options are rather limited; just title, author or subject.

Once the LMS was in place the library was my (cataloguing) oyster! It certainly isn’t as intuitive as other systems I have used, Aleph, Millenium or Unicorn, but it does the job well and I enjoyed using it. The library itself is a really nice environment to work in (minus Radio 2 playing from the other room, I don’t mind Radio 2 but just not all day.) and I have my trusty cataloguing notebook to see me through some tricky titles. I was a bit apprehensive about taking on a project to see through from start to finish in the last 5 weeks of term but I’m coping alright. Also, I now have experience in sourcing a barcode scanner and a company which will supply barcodes which will follow on from our existing ones. I definitely felt a little out of my depth doing that at the beginning but everything works and is operational, phew.

100 books down and only 3,900 to go!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2011 1:22 pm

    Do you tend to read books as well while catalogging them. It must be great to be surrounded by so many books.

  2. April 6, 2011 12:57 pm

    We’ve just transferred over to Koha here in Halton libraries! I keep meaning to blog about it. I like doing the occasional bit of cataloguing, but I don’t think I could be a full time cataloguer. It’s important to try to keep hold of those skills though.

    • April 6, 2011 8:42 pm

      I feel the same, I’m worried if I get a job where no cataloguing is needed I’ve loose my skills! I’d definitely think about volunteering somewhere to keep them up though, especially as so many new issues are coming up with RDA.

      I’ve added you to my Google Reader and I look forward to your Koha post.


  1. NSPC Library « Trails and Trials of a Trainee Librarian

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