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The Serial Cohort: A confederacy of catalogers

  • May 20, 2020 7:56 PM
    Message # 8983123
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Recorded Session

    Mandy Hurt

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    In 2018, at a time when our department was shrinking through attrition, the decision was made to further leverage the particular skill sets of a select group of monographic catalogers by training them to also undertake the complex copy cataloging of serials. This presentation concerns the assumptions underlying how this decision was originally made, the initial plan for how this would be accomplished by CONSER Bridge Training, the eventual formation of the Serials Cohort with a view to creating an iterative process I would design and manage, and the problems, obstacles and time constraints faced and addressed along the way.

    Last modified: June 15, 2020 9:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • June 11, 2020 1:37 PM
    Reply # 9031138 on 8983123
    Jacqueline Brellenthin

    Hi Mandy!

    Thanks for this presentation. After talking about it last year at the conference, I was interested to hear how it progressed. I have a question - do you find that your two new serials-proficient catalogers have enough serials work to keep it "fresh" in their minds? I have recently trained some primarily monographic catalogers and am concerned that their normal day-to-day workflow won't give them the opportunity to work on serials frequently enough to retain the knowledge (especially with the COVID-19 disruption and them not able to work on print serials). I also give them "homework" in the meantime so they retain knowledge for when we return to the office. They know where to find the rules, but I fear they might be spending a lot of time re-reading rules if they only work on serials once in a while.

    - Jacque Brellenthin

  • June 11, 2020 6:26 PM
    Reply # 9031647 on 8983123
    Steve Shadle

    Oh Mandy Mandy Mandy.  I'm glad you eventually were able to get some help with your serials cataloging but when you mentioned that in the first round, the staff were asked to learn both CONSER cataloging and serial MARC holdings, my reaction was "Oh no no no....that's too much.  Their heads are going to explode."

    TBH, we've had limited success in training monograph catalogers to work with serials.  It is a different set of skills and different types of puzzles (as you put it).  I'm not saying all monograph catalogers pride themselves on the level/amount of descriptive detail they provide in their records, but those that do tend to break down when presented with a 30-year run consisting of hundreds of issues (or even three issues of any government-published serial).  Glad you were able to see some benefit.


  • June 23, 2020 1:01 PM
    Reply # 9054985 on 9031138

    Hi Jacqueline,

    Sorry for my lateness in responding. The head of my department recently retired and it's committee changeover season.

    In our case, we had a backlog of comic book serials in special collections and of Japanese serial reprints for the new (to serials) catalogers to work on.

    While in the planning stage, when I still didn't know who would be part of the first generation, I'd arranged with their department heads to funnel two serial titles a week to them for the first couple of months (or until they considered themselves comfortable with the work) and then to reduce it to 3 titles a month so they could keep their hand in. I also supplied the cohort with reference materials and sample records they could refer to when cataloging.

    As we were only looking to create complex-copy  and not original serials catalogers in areas in great need this was feasible, particularly as initial training was aimed at getting them to point of recognizing when they needed to ask for help.

    I'm not sure it would be feasible at all to attempt to train original serials catalogers without their work flow naturally containing a substantial number of serial titles and without a substantial commitment of my time that would practically render the "extra help" pointless and in fact reduce productivity.

    Given the current COVID-19 reality, I would look to providing them with a cheat sheet version of the "CONSER standard record" and, if their supervisors were amenable, follow one of the ways I trained the cohort. I'd "assign" them a couple of titles a week and have them post their homework records up on the online save file so I could respond in the 996 field to any questions they might have, as well as inserting remarks into individual fields as necessary.

    I'm not sure if your aim is to eventually have monographic catalogers produce original serials records which is a whole other kettle of fish but otherwise I think something like this might well work for you.

    Best,

    Mandy

    Jacqueline Brellenthin wrote:

    Hi Mandy!

    Thanks for this presentation. After talking about it last year at the conference, I was interested to hear how it progressed. I have a question - do you find that your two new serials-proficient catalogers have enough serials work to keep it "fresh" in their minds? I have recently trained some primarily monographic catalogers and am concerned that their normal day-to-day workflow won't give them the opportunity to work on serials frequently enough to retain the knowledge (especially with the COVID-19 disruption and them not able to work on print serials). I also give them "homework" in the meantime so they retain knowledge for when we return to the office. They know where to find the rules, but I fear they might be spending a lot of time re-reading rules if they only work on serials once in a while.

    - Jacque Brellenthin


    Last modified: June 23, 2020 1:03 PM | Anonymous member
  • June 23, 2020 1:34 PM
    Reply # 9055100 on 9031647

    Oh Steve Steve Steve... Shadle as in cradle (I will never forget). : )

    Sorry for my lateness in responding. The head of my department recently retired and it's committee changeover season.

    It wasn't actually my idea to get help with serials cataloging. While the process of hiring a second serials cataloger was successful, it proved to be almost another labour of Hercules to achieve. I think that combined with Technical Services beginning to outsource foreign language materials in areas where our department had no language expertise led directly to the decision to train complex-copy serials catalogers - you'll note not to create original serials catalogers.

    Because of the areas in which the department was looking to expand productivity and avoid outsourcing, the likelihood of their being exposed to a 30-year run consisting of hundreds of issues (or even three issues of any government-published serial) is slim to none. Those type of puzzles would be saved for me as I love them so. : )

    An area I put a lot of work into was their learning enough to understand when they're out of their depth. In the unlikely event that they were to run across such a thing as that 30-year run it would be sent to serials catalogers.

    They are currently working in areas such as the Murray comic book collection in special collections where most of the titles are complete runs, are no more than 40 years old, and the existing OCLC records require enhancing more than anything (we are adding extensive information on the creative talents behind these comics and undertaking the necessary NACO work). Beware Joker! title changes is our watch word.

    So far, at least, no one's head has exploded.

    Best,

    Mandy

    Steve Shadle wrote:

    Oh Mandy Mandy Mandy.  I'm glad you eventually were able to get some help with your serials cataloging but when you mentioned that in the first round, the staff were asked to learn both CONSER cataloging and serial MARC holdings, my reaction was "Oh no no no....that's too much.  Their heads are going to explode."

    TBH, we've had limited success in training monograph catalogers to work with serials.  It is a different set of skills and different types of puzzles (as you put it).  I'm not saying all monograph catalogers pride themselves on the level/amount of descriptive detail they provide in their records, but those that do tend to break down when presented with a 30-year run consisting of hundreds of issues (or even three issues of any government-published serial).  Glad you were able to see some benefit.



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