Friday, October 24, 2008

oh! Symphony!

I can't believe I almost forgot to mention this: we're "moving" to Symphony over Christmas. I'd like to revisit what SD calls Symphony:
"SirsiDynix Symphony, blending the best of the Unicorn GL3 and Horizon 8/Corinthian systems, offers libraries and consortia the stability, quality, and performance they need to operate productively and efficiently, while equipping them to serve people and entire communities." (from here)
It is a "blending." Blending which parts of Horizon, you may ask? Good question! I have no idea, because here's how much of a big deal our move to Symphony is:

Our Unicorn administrator said this about the move:
"The Unicorn test system will be down for much of next week. During this time we will be performing an upgrade to the latest version of Unicorn software -- 3.2.1 “Symphony.”"

This cracks me up. He doesn't even pretend like it's different. I could swear that he's also said to us in person that it's "you know, pretty much exactly the same as Java Workflows."

Now, what also happened today (and which triggered this little quotation fest) was that someone posted on the Unicorn listserv that they are moving from Horizon to Symphony and would appreciate any input from anyone else who made the move. The Unicorn listserv is a closed list, so I guess the Unicorn list is now the Symphony list. Oh, Sirsi. Perhaps I was right after all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vendor webinars

OCLC had a webinar today. Here's the pitch:
"You are invited to attend a special program on innovative, emerging cataloging practices and trends that can help you build next-generation catalogs, expose your library's metadata and make your cataloging workflows more efficient.

Your host, Karen Calhoun, Vice President, WorldCat & Metadata Services, will offer insights on how your library can benefit from emerging cataloging innovations, including OCLC Contract Cataloging."

So a bunch of us catalogers attended this webinar. I should have known better, as I usually avoid vendor anything. But other people were sitting in, so why not?

I knew better, yet I did it anyway.

So the whole thing was about contract cataloging and Cataloging Partners. The only thing I want to say about their spiel is that OCLC apparently found, through some source, that it cost $45 per book to do original cataloging at a library. Does that sound high to you? It does to me. I make far less than $45/hour, yet it does take me about an hour or so to do a good original cataloging job, on average. While I was sitting there thinking "that seems kind", my boss turns to me and says "two years ago, we did a study on how much it cost us to do cataloging...we came up with $10/book." Which, miraculously, is also what OCLC estimates are THEIR costs for cataloging a book. Weird, right?

I knew better than to attend a vendor seminar. My notes from the webinar includes such gems as "WTF", "anti-cataloger", and "how does this relate to cataloging?" Obviously I did not get a whole lot out of it. At least it was free!

**Addendum: I know that people from OCLC read my blog. I hope this post doesn't come off as being offensive towards OCLC. Because, here's the deal: OCLC is a vendor, and it's not their fault that they are a vendor and are trying to sell products. That's kind of the whole point of their existence. And I know that. I think everyone knows that (or at least, I hope everyone knows that). Most of my commentary is directed at myself, to help me finally come to terms with the fact that I do not enjoy vendor-sponsored events. I once spent an entire day sitting at an Elsevier-sponsored event and wanted to stab my own eyes out. And it was totally not Elsevier's fault. They were all very cute and Dutch.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Loaded Question

From Autocat this afternoon:
"Some staff here are convinced that "you
can't find anything" in our catalog. That it has become an unnecessary
expense since most patrons browse the collection anyway. If so, is it
the fault of the catalog, or the untrained user? Or both?"

What a huge question to just post nonchalantly on a listserv. What amuses me, though, is that this is the question at the heart of all the new-fangled discovery tools like Aquabrowser and iBistro and all that nonsense. This is a HUGE QUESTION, Palm Beach County Library System, and no one really knows the answer to it. In fact, I would argue that these questions are the very core of all the changes going on in the library world right now. I wonder if she'll get any responses. I certainly do not have the finger endurance to type out the kind of response that she needs....although, to be fair, probably no one does. But if I did, it would start out with "When Yahoo and Google started creating their own search engines in 1996..." and we'd just go on from there. My response would probably end with "and no one knows, even to this day, if the problem is the catalog or the untrained user, or both. Although I figure it's both."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I am drowning in original cataloging. I may not survive. If I'm not back in a week, just assume that the LCSH has finally taken me to the Big Library in the Sky.

Save yourselves!
"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.