Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The lure of technology

At the Music Library Association annual meeting last week, a session was devoted to "hot topics" arising after the conference program was set. It was extremely well-attended by an engaged and vocal audience. Yet even in the area of music librarianship, every topic covered in this session was technology-related. This didn't have to be -- there are plenty of non-technology topics that were late-breaking at the time, including AACR3. I work in library technology, don't get me wrong, so I'm a big fan of how "computer stuff" can better improve our services. But I do think we do ourselves a disservice by only publicizing our initiatives that make use of sexy new technologies.

As the discussion progressed, some in the room started to realize the heavy focus on technology topics. Someone with the microphone made a remark indicating they assumed there were few catalogers in the audience, presumably because they believed catalogers wouldn't be interested in "hot topics," presumably because they're not interested in change. The speaker then asked how many catalogers were in the audience. A reasonable amount of people raised their hands, but not in my quick estimation as high a percentage of total catalogers in attendance.

I don't know what to make of these events. It's sad both that an assumption would exist that catalogers would not be interested in the "hot topics" (not defined prior to the session), and that this assumption was not conclusively proven false. At this point all I can say is let's see if education can be a large part of the solution.

8 comments:

laura gayle said...

As a long time MLA-r and former cataloger, I think about the MLA program and the huge blocks of BCC meetings and the Tech Services RT. Some or a majority of catalogers may have been tied up at that -- or at least that's what I thought when I saw who attended the "Hot Topics" session.

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