Thursday, April 18, 2019

Measuring the value of cataloging

A recent post by Karen Smith-Yoshimura on OCLC's Hanging Together blog highlights the difficulty of quantifying the impact of cataloging work. The column is based on a discussion by OCLC Research Library Partners metadata managers. Smith-Yoshimura reminds readers that traditional methods of tracking cataloger productivity, statistics, do not measure the actual impact of the cataloger's work.

In many institutions, catalogers work in an environment where their efforts are undervalued by administration. In order to justify the effort involved to craft high quality bibliographic descriptions, we need to quantify how this work contributes to user's success, and how the metadata we create contributes to our organization's strategic goals. Smith-Yoshimura highlights the need for a "culture shift" from "pride around production alone" to placing value on learning opportunities and experimentation. She emphasizes the need to "understand that improving all metadata is more important than any individual's productivity."

How any one technical services unit can convince their administration to provide time and space to pursue these kinds of opportunities in the face of staff reductions and continued pressure to maintain production is an open question.

Smith-Yoshimura, Karen. Alternatives to statistics for measuring success and value of cataloging. Hanging together, the OCLC research blog. April 15, 2019.

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