This article was co-written by the e-Forum moderators.
The ALCTS e-forum “Cataloging and Metadata Education” took place March 20–21, 2018. It was moderated by Christopher Dieckman, metadata and cataloging librarian at Iowa State University; Erin Elzi, Design and Discovery Librarian at the University of Denver (DU) and instructor of Metadata Architectures at DU’s library and information science (LIS) program; and Janelle Zetty, Head of Cataloging at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In addition, Karen Snow, Associate Professor and Director of the Doctoral Program at the School of Information Studies at Dominican University, assisted by providing discussion questions and supplemental reading materials she uses in her cataloging and metadata courses.
The first day focused on general questions. The first asked what LIS programs are doing right and what areas can be improved. The second asked instructors what challenges they face regarding cataloging and metadata education at their institutions. The third and fourth respectively asked about ways practitioners and educators can work together to improve student outcomes and how they can increase graduates’ chances of obtaining employment. While responses regarding the efficacy of LIS programs varied, several themes were apparent.
There was a broad consensus that there is too much knowledge in cataloging and metadata to be covered in a couple of classes. Participants agreed that coursework is still important as it can provide a basic understanding of cataloging and metadata work; however, workers need out-of-school learning such as internships or practica or on-the-job training to perform effectively at the professional level. There was also discussion of the importance of continuing education, particularly with upcoming trends such as BIBFRAME. Finally, there were several comments on online education, which like that in a traditional classroom setting, cannot substitute for practical experience, but is still beneficial.
Questions for the second day were more specific. Participants were asked if they used the Core Competencies for Cataloging and Metadata Professionals published by the Cataloging Competencies Task Force in 2017. Several participants mentioned using the core competencies to develop talking points with supervisors. Participants also agreed that the core competencies are useful to determine necessary career skills. One participant pointed to the article “Ten Essential Qualities for Success: A New Cataloging Librarian’s Guide from a Supervisor’s Perspective” by Myung Gi Sung.
Related to skill sets, participants were asked if they thought the curriculum should include computer science courses, to which several individuals said yes. Some discussed experiences with computer science classes and listed programming languages and technology skills they considered important.
Another question asked how managers of paraprofessional staff train their employees. Several participants said they took advantage of online courses and webinars. One respondent discussed how they conducted in person training by having staff with expertise in certain skills provide one-on-one instruction to individuals seeking growth in that area.
Finally, one question addressed moving forward with information gained from the e-forum. One participant responded with three noteworthy takeaways:
- Introduce students to big concepts and terminology of the field.
- Give students practical experience in addition to practical exercises—including activities such as shadowing, guest lectures from professionals, and possibly practica or internships.
- Provide students with tools for further learning. Teach them how to use the tools of the trade, e.g. WebDewey and Library of Congress Authorities and Vocabularies. Offer connections for mentoring relationships. Introduce them to cataloging and metadata journals, email lists, etc.
We hope that information shared at this e-forum will assist instructors, LIS students, practicing librarians seeking professional development, and those involved in the hiring and training of cataloging and metadata librarians.
Supplemental Readings for Cataloging and Metadata Courses
Billey, A., E. Drabinski, & K. Roberto. “What’s Gender Got to Do with It? A Critique of RDA 9.7.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 52, no. 4 (2014): 412–421.
Cole, Teju. “The Digital Afterlife of Lost Family Photos.” The New York Times Magazine, 26. (April 26, 2016).
Hoffman, G. “Meeting Users’ Needs in Cataloging: What is the Right Thing to Do?” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 47, no 7 (2009): 631–641.
Macpherson, J. “Metadata, Time and the Story of Our Pasts” (June 5, 2014).
Shoemaker, E. “No One Can Whistle a Symphony: Seeking a Cataloger’s Code of Ethics.” Knowledge Organization, 42, no. 5, (2015): 353–357.