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Abstract 28th February 2014 – Session 4A

Marie-Louise Ayres (National Library of Australia)
Reconsidering Discovery
Alberto Petrucciani (University of Roma “La Sapienza”, Italy)
Quality of library catalogues and value of (good) catalogues
The “great absent” in cataloguing literature in recent years seems to be the quality of catalogues. Or, perhaps better, the real contents of real catalogues of today.
Despite the indisputable fact that library catalogues have been a cornerstone of scholarship and of access to recorded knowledge and human expression for many centuries and the almost ubiquitous mention of “quality” in every field (and in our own), the issue of the quality and value of (good) catalogues is underrated and understudied. Thoughts and studies about catalogue quality and value are almost non-existent (as quite a number of the “objects” described in our catalogues…), excepting, of course, few praiseworthy contributions.
The quality of information in today’s large catalogues is apparently very uneven and often very low. This fact can be explained by a number of factors, but it is striking that while in other fields the progress in sophistication of methods and quality of results is beyond doubt, unfortunately in the field of cataloguing and indexing theoretical advances have been lacking in the last decades and the quality of large bibliographic databases is not rising but declining (except perhaps in some very specialized areas).
The return of interest for information organization in catalogues with the FRBR study (1998) appears now as a “lost opportunity” (a lost illusion?). Later developments were mostly concerned with the formal machinery of “models” without a sound and deep examination of the very complex phenomena that we deal with (e.g., what is a work, how works are conceived, composed or realized, and published, how the content of publications may be understood and analyzed in terms of works, etc.). So, we may ask ourselves a provocative question: under the dress (the models, the technologies), nothing?
It’s easy to show that a large number of query results from library catalogues are simply nonsense. And that much relevant information is not given, is given in tortuous ways or is given in a (badly-chosen) jargon that users cannot understand. The low quality of large catalogues is not simply due to the vast amount of duplicated records, unprofessional work, errors of interpretation, miskeyings, etc., but in the first place to the misunderstanding (and undervaluing) of functions and aims of bibliographic information and to unwise cataloguing standards, rules and policies.
While today there is plenty of casual (unstructured, uncontrolled) information about books and other publications, for better or worse, in the Net, the need for good-quality, organized bibliographic information is apparent, e.g. from the development of this kind of information in Wikipedia and its success.
Libraries are the social institution (the only one institution in this field) having responsibility (often legal, always cultural and historical) for the control, organization and communication of information about the published output of human knowledge and expression. Maybe it’s better to do (well) our own work, and not to ape (without much success) what others (with aims and responsibilities different from those of public institutions) already do.
Milena Dobreva (University of Malta)
Citizens and eInfrastructures: engagement of general users in eResearch
Understanding better the needs and demands of users of digital resources plays a key role in their use by various user communities. However, the needs of users related to domain of eInfrastructrues still needs further systematic studies in order to understand how various types of users interact with such environments. This is particularly valid in the case of citizens: while the research lifecycle of academics and the support from eInfrastructures and virtual research environments attracted significant attention in the last decade, the understanding how citizens can be involved in research and creativity within the digital domain is still in its infancy.
This paper will outline main avenues of user-related research in the domain of digital resources, and will look in particular into the challenges of understanding how citizens act as users in eInfrastructure environments.
It will look into models of academic research lifecycles mapped to digital infrastructures which could help only to some extent because the nature of involvement of academics and citizens and their need of support differ considerably. While the academic users’ support is seen as most typically mapping onto phases from the traditional research lifecycle, such as resource discovery; experiments, research and analysis; publication; and administration and institutional process. Initial research done on citizen science suggests that such projects do not typically addressing the generic lifecycle but concentrates on specific activities (e.g. define question, gather information, develop hypothesis, design study, data collection, analyse samples, interpret data, draw conclusions, disseminate results, discuss results).
The paper will also explore how the presence of eInfratsructures influences the work of academic and public libraries and what are the implications on the librarian profession, in particular on the library online catalogues and on the new skills would be in demand to serve library patrons better when they are interested to contribute to “citizen science”.
Anna Maria Tammaro (University of Florence), Vittore Casarosa (CNR-ISTI, Italy)
From the art of cataloguing to the art of linking: are the educational curricula up to the job?
For centuries, the Memory Institutions (collective name for Libraries, Archives, Museums, often abbreviated in LAMs) have based the main aspect of their mission (collecting content and making it accessible to their users) on the general notion of a “catalogue”, something used, at the same time, to describe the content of the institution and to help the users finding the desired information. In about three decades, the availability of catalogues online and the increase in the amount of “digital information” have forced the LAMs to re-think the way in which their assets are accessed. It is becoming more and more important to meet users’ expectations of finding and (re)using information and data online.

The emergence in the recent years of the Semantic Web has provided powerful means to add value to digital data, by allowing (in a semi-automated way) to establish links between different (but related) concepts in the same domain and, even more important, to establish links crossing the traditional boundaries of different disciplines. Transforming the catalogue into a “cloud” of linked data will make it easier to find the desired information and will allow serendipitous discoveries. There is a growing need for information professionals with skills in digitization, data enrichment, digital archiving, long term preservation, or, in other words, in what is today called “digital curation”, i.e. the ability to add value to digital assets for access, use and re-use over the long term.

However, most of the time, curriculum models still support the traditional definitions of roles, functions, and audiences of the LAMs, encompassing descriptive cataloguing, subject access, classification, metadata, knowledge organisation, bibliographic control and other related areas for all formats of information resources. Convergence of the educational curricula for information professionals has been a topic of much discussion in the LAM communities; the emerging similarities between these three types of cultural heritage institutions (most apparent in their on-line activities) are not yet evident in the education of professionals who work in them.

The presentation will report about the on-going investigation of current digital curator education and training programs with regard to the role of information professionals in the digital information lifecycle. The investigation has been based on a series of surveys, workshops and events discussing the concerns of researchers and teachers about digital information and digital curation. Some preliminary results have produced a list of competencies and skills at the technical and operational level that information professionals should have. Professional practice can evolve in the context provided by digital curation, and respond in a manner that supports common goals across institution types. New inter-disciplinary foci for professional training can provide skills needed across the sector, while respecting the distinct histories, cultural roles, and responsibilities of libraries, archives, and museums.

Marco Ranieri (Data Management PAS, Italy)
“Different users different uses”
Keywords: users, interface, web
The rapid changes of the last five years have created , in internet, new usage dynamics and different categories of users. We apply cross-cultural analysis to these varied, contrasting categories, new habits, new usage profiles, new perceptions and their requirements.
We wonder if these new technological tools at our disposal will allow us to tailor the supply of cultural content and services to the dynamics of the “new network”, without the need for undue compromise.
The submission is based on both technical and sociological analysis of usage statistics of some the main Italian on-line catalogues and library portals. Observation of user behaviour highlights both the interests and trends that motivate users. At the same time one perceives an evident need for strong cultural mediation coupled with new forms of presentation and new ways to propagate this through the network.
Today Internet is a social instrument based on global collaboration and participation and it is also a powerful vehicle for communications, always available and characterised by ever changing strategies for the spread of ideas such as “SEO or Search Engine Optimisation” and “Email Marketing”.
The cultural mediator must know the network, be a part of it, and be aware of the new devices the user adopts. He/She must have a complete picture of the customs and habits of the different categories of network user.
Consequently the new generation of library portals must show the best of their holdings and provide quality network services. Into this context the cultural mediator must focus all of his/her experience and become protagonist, editor, popularizer and blogger.
A cultural mediator, aware of the nature, benefits and limitations of the network, can play an active role in cyberspace and is able to turn the network into a powerful instrument for the propagation of knowledge.
URL: Copyright AIB 2014-02-06. A cura di Andrea Marchitelli, ultima modifica 2014-02-09