Our library has a social catalogue interface supplied by AquaBrowser. It enables the users of the catalogue to rate materials, ‘tag’ materials, write reviews, share opinions, and soon they will be able to monitor their reading preferences with RSS feeds. The interface has made our library catalogue much more interactive so that our patrons have more of a feeling of ‘ownership’.
In addition to providing ACCESS to all library materials via the traditional access points of title, author, series and subject, we as cataloguers must keep abreast of reading trends and media’s influence on those trends. The rules must be followed, but in addition we can construct reading lists, new materials lists and much more!
With many patrons using our catalogues from their homes, many never have the opportunity to speak with the library’s readers advisors. We as cataloguers must step up to the plate and provide the most comprehensive and informative bibliographic records possible so as to maintain superior library service for the online patrons. Now, more than ever, we must attempt to have an open communication with the public service staff who have a lot to offer us in this area.
I always like to use the analogy of the cataloguing department as the ‘kitchen’ of the library (like the cooks in a restaurant) – while the public service staff are the service staff (much like the waiters and waitresses in a restaurant). One cannot exist without the other. If good quality material leaves the kitchen it makes life much more pleasant and productive for the service staff as well as making the patrons happy. If poor quality material leaves the ‘kitchen’ it makes life frustrating and unpleasant for the service staff and makes the patrons unhappy. And, just as is true in any restaurant, the cooks always like to hear feedback from the front-line staff…
It is indeed an exciting time to be a public library cataloguer!