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January 04, 2008
Writing about web page http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue53/manuel-oppenheim/
Manuel and Oppenheim (2007) briefly assume a loss of cataloguing skills within the library and repository communities, which would be resulting from the practice of libraries outsourcing their cataloguing work by buying shelf-ready books. Their article then considers the possibility that such a “loss of key skills may have long-term implications” for libraries’ ability to provide good quality metadata in the preservation of digital assets. This concern seems to be expressed in the context of HE repositories.
Libraries in the public sector may have undergone a reduction of their cataloguing staff overall, as claimed, but the sector is obviously experiencing the boom of digitisation, a boom that is only starting and which has no bust in sight. There is still a lot of scope for growth in digitisation since only 1% of the content of European libraries has been digitised so far according to a recent estimate reported by Ayris (2007), who likens library digitisation to a revolution.
Such digitisation and the resulting digital libraries require metadata librarians as digital asset managers with a skills set not too distant from the fundamental profile of the cataloguer. Accordingly the role of the cataloguer is becoming ever more interesting and challenging as it evolves into the role of digital repository manager and requires the kind of knowledge about digital preservation that Manuel and Oppenheim (2007) mention in their article.
In particular the staff employed in HE libraries as cataloguers are in a good position to take on roles in Research Support as it shifts to include digital preservation and publishing (see our previous post on university digital presses and the shift to OA). Similarly HE serials librarians are also well placed to take on the challenge of supporting academics in the publishing of their research in spite of the decline of the print journal in the next five to ten years, which is predicted by Johnson and Luther (2007, p.31) as part of the shift of libraries to providing only e-collections.
Ayris, P. (2007) Why is Google showing us the way forward in digitisation? asks senior UK librarian. JISC Podcast 21.
Johnson, R. and Luther, J. (2007) The E-only Tipping Point for Journals: What’s Ahead in the Print-to-Electronic Transition Zone. Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries.
Manuel, S. and Oppenheim, C. (2007) Googlepository and the University Library. Ariadne, 53, October.