Librarians Do Philly

MLA2011Ever wonder what librarians do at a conference of information professionals? Do we debate the merits of Dewey versus Library of Congress filing systems? Discuss the latest in biobibliographies and  thematic catalogs? Swap fashion tips on the latest sweater sets? Well, maybe the first two statements might play out, but the third is a dead tired stereotype, buster.

Several of the information specialists at your Robinson Music Library just returned from the annual gathering of the Music Library Association in Philadelphia. According to the MLA mission statement, this organization “provides a professional forum for librarians, archivists, and others who support and preserve the world’s musical heritage.” Heady stuff. Like all gatherings of like-minded folks, these annual conferences provide an exciting energy boost and attendees, if they’re like me, come home filled with ideas to implement that will ultimately benefit you, our valued patron.

Below you will find just a sampling of the topics discussed:

RDA (Resource Description and Access)
Did you know that the library world has long debated the pros and cons of its current cataloging system (MARC, Machine Readable Cataloging), particularly its limitations with the onslaught of digital formats? Catalogers are always exploring new and better ways to codify items keeping you, the user, in mind. RDA grew out of a need to determine how catalogs could better point to items and reduce frustration when the zero-hit syndrome attacks.

Ownership Versus Licensing of Digital Media
Libraries have always been proud of their collections of physical items to which they are able to provide access. Digital media, due to its binary code of zeros and ones, is not a physical format. Digital media also generally requires a user agreement or license which governs what you can and cannot do with the item. A library cannot make available many digital-only releases due to the restrictions in the licensing agreement. Libraries also serve an archival function for their collection. If they cannot be physically acquired, who will ensure that the recording will be available for future scholars?

Marketing Your Library
Librarians are always looking for new ways to remain relevant to their patron’s ever-changing digital needs. Some libraries are creating videos to show at opening convocation, developing a YouTube presence, displaying rss feed content through various means, and offering wireless printing through Google.

Stay tuned to the RML to see how we introduce new technologies and adapt old ones into the digital environment.


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