Tell Congress that Cataloging and Politics Don’t Mix

From the ALA Washington Office:

“It’s not often that the House of Representatives’ ‘power of the purse’ is used to control — of all things — what subject headings the Library of Congress can use to classify materials, but that’s just what’s on the agenda when the House Appropriations Committee meets on May 17. As recently detailed in District Dispatch, it will be deciding whether to follow the lead of its Legislative Branch Subcommittee to, in effect, bar the Library from replacing ‘Aliens’ and ‘Illegal aliens’ with the more neutral and appropriate ‘Noncitizens’ and/or ‘Unauthorized immigration.'”

More here.

Yep.  The House Appropriations Committee appears prepared to force the Library of Congress to use in its subject headings, not the terms determined by expert professional judgment, but terms that fit the political and social agenda of the Republican majority.

In 2007, in a response to the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, I wrote in tribute to the staff of the Library of Congress “that these librarians–among the most knowledgeable and dedicated in our profession–have for most of the past six years been accountable to a Congress more deeply anti-intellectual perhaps, and more hostile to the public and nonprofit sectors and to open access to information, than any other in our history.”  What have the almost nine years since that summer shown us?  Apparently, among other things, that in politics nothing is so bad that it can’t get worse.

I don’t know what practical result it will have—we librarians and friends of libraries are hardly the natural constituency of those now driving the agenda in Congress—but the least we can do is speak up on behalf of intellectual integrity and the independence of our profession.  Let’s all take a few minutes to call or email.

The list of members of the Appropriations Committee

Tracking and contact links here.


RDA Four Months In (at On the Front Lines conference)

Better late than never, I hope, here is the handout from my presentation at the ninth annual On the Front Lines: Statewide Library Practitioners Conference, presented by the Illinois State Library at the University of Illinois Springfield on August 5-7.

RDA Four Months In

It was a challenge, as the audience included working catalogers, non-catalogers, and I think a few technical services managers.  What I was trying to do was present both a very general overview of the background of RDA, some of its central ideas, and the reasons for its adoption, and a look at some of the changes the new code has brought about in our bibliographic records and files.

For Disaster Preparedness, Pack a Library Card? (from NPR)

I heard this on my local National Public Radio station this morning (WBEZ in Chicago). Much as I’ve commented on the importance of libraries to our communities, I was gratified to hear that so dramatically confirmed.

Well worth a listen and a read.


“Getting Ready for RDA” (COSUGI 2013)

With a deep sigh of relief, I report that my presentation at COSUGI this morning on planning for RDA went smoothly and seems to have been well received. I’m attaching PDFs of the slideshow and the accompanying handout on resources for RDA training; after I get a chance to edit my speaker’s notes a little and bring them a little closer to what I actually said, I’ll post those as well.

These presentations always evolve: I sent the materials you are looking at here in mid-February, and I was making changes literally as I got ready this morning. One thing I emphasized in the presentation, that is less prominent in the slideshow, is that preparation for RDA involves a lot of policy planning, much of which will probably be done while you’re learning about the code. Among other things this is an occasion for examining and rethinking your library’s or consortium’s existing policies. And a point I inexplicably omitted: As you make these decisions, it is very important to document, not only the decisions themselves but the reasons for them. Someone after you will be revisiting the issues you’re dealing with now, quite possibly someone who will not have been around for these initial discussions. They will appreciate knowing the context in which you established your policies and practices, which they can use in evaluating what they should do at that undetermined point in the future. And in fact you and your colleagues may well be returning to these questions yourselves, and it can be helpful, when re-evaluating what you’ve done, to have an answer to the question–literally–“What were we thinking?”

Some RDA Training Resources 2013-02-14


UPDATE: Speaker’s notes:

Getting Ready for RDA notes for posting 2013-03-25

Changing the Conversation: The Troy Public Library

It is no secret, I think, that in the United States at least, the dominant conversation –the story accepted by default, as it were– is disturbingly inimical in our time to what is sometimes called the commons–the amenities and institutions that serve the public good.

But is that hostility really what most people deeply feel?

This video, and the story behind it, suggest not. They suggest that sometimes what we need to do is speak up in a way that changes the terms of the dialog.

Fantastic (and Free!) Cataloging Tools

What’s better than 76 (by my count) useful online cataloging tools?

Seventy-six free useful online cataloging tools! Plus four five cat pictures.

This is from an excellent presentation by Erica Laughlin, RSA Cataloging and Database Administrator, Resource Sharing Alliance NFP, at the 2012 Annual Conference of the Illinois Library Association.


Planning for RDA

For several years now we have been focusing much attention on the content of RDA, and that is still a necessary focus. But for the 2012 Annual Conference (Bouncing Higher!) of the Illinois Library Association, I thought we were due for a discussion of how we are planning, or should plan, for the adoption of the new standard, now that the Library of Congress has set a target date for implementation less than six months away.

My presentation, which includes both my own ideas and contributions from several colleagues, is posted on the conference website. I’m posting it here as well, as a PPT file so you can see the notes, and as a PDF in case you have trouble accessing the PPT. There are also two PDF documents, one with a list of training resources, the other with a couple of songs you are free to use. Because what’s really wrong with RDA is that it doesn’t have enough songs, don’t you think?

Wait a Minute, How Many Months 2012-10-17 (PPT)

Wait a Minute, How Many Months 2012-10-17 (PDF)

Some RDA Training Resources 2012-10-11

Cataloging Campfire Songs selections