Here’s a great blog post for you to read: Cataloguing as a (customer) service
The author, Alissa, is a friend of mine and an inspiration. She argues passionately for the role of cataloguing and metadata in helping people get the best out of libraries.
“…my job is not directly user-facing. But it is user-focused. Everything I do as a librarian, I do for my library’s users…”
Look, I’ve been a manager. Budgets are a constant problem. There’s never as much money as you’d like, and sometimes you have to cut some services to keep other open. So I’m sympathetic to the Brisbane City Council Library Service prioritising front-of-house over cataloguing, simply because you can’t outsource front-of-house.
But metadata and cataloguing are still part of the overall user experience.
User experience is quite trendy now. It has it’s own trendy acronym: UX. It grew out of software and website design, and is now spreading to other fields. Including libraries. Here’s a Medium article: What’s a UX Librarian? And there’s even a journal: Weave: Journal of Library User Experience.
Which makes me think: most companies don’t keep a plumber or electrician on staff. They have a Facilities Manager who then hires in plumbers and electricians as needed.
Perhaps libraries could move to a similar model: a UX librarian on staff, who then works with shelf-ready providers to ensure the metadata is tailored to the needs of that particular library.
From the Medium piece: “At its core, librarianship is about discoverability. Librarians connect people with information and improve access. They are masters of service design thinking.”
(Now I’m thinking about becoming a UX Librarian one day. It’ll probably stop being trendy by the time I had the qualifications, though.)