It is better to post late than not at all! October 27-29, 2006, Margaret, Merry, and I attended the biennial Online Audiovisual Catalogers (OLAC) conference in sunny Mesa Arizona. The theme of the conference was Preparing for a brave new world: Media cataloging on the threshold of RDA. At this point you may be wondering of how OLAC, a group with a name that might be mistaken for a cholesterol lowering drug and RDA, another odd sounding acronym to those outside of cataloging circles might be of interest. I'll explain.
OLAC is a group of catalogers who specialize in cataloging anything that is not a book. While this occasionally veers into the serial realm, most of the time it involves video recordings (VHS, DVD, streaming videos, etc.), sound recordings (LPs, compact discs, etc.), scores, maps, electronic resources (including remote), and anything else that does not fit well in another venue (realia, games, puppets, etc.). If the format is new or out of the ordinary, chances are this group has already cataloged it and is happy to provide collective advice.I have attended multiple OLAC conferences over the years and return to my institution with great ideas for cataloging the less mundane.
This year's keynote address was given by Jennifer Bowen of the University of Rochester. Ms. Bowen gave a brief history of cataloging standards and discussed the need for RDA or Resource Description and Access, what will replace the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules in 2008. The general organization of the new rules as well as some of the differences were discussed. RDA is an attempt by the cataloging community to reach out to other metadata communities in order to promote a shared content standard. Better content standards mean more record sharing and enhanced access for all. In my opinion, it is too soon to tell how RDA will be received beyond the cataloging community.
Beyond the keynote session, I attended a number of smaller breakout sessions including electronic resources, advanced videorecordings, sound recordings, and map cataloging. While I learned a great deal in all of the sessions, I think I benefited the most from the session on map cataloging. Map cataloging is a specialty unto itself and one that requires a certain number of tools. The speaker, Paige Andrew of Pennsylvania State University of provided numerous handouts as well as a scale finder. Scale finders allow a cataloger to measure a map to determine scale when not printed on the map. I feel much more comfortable with basic map cataloging after attending the session.
The location for the next OLAC Conference is yet to be determined, but rumor has it coming to the Midwest in the fall of 2008. Many thanks to all of the speakers and organizers of this year's conference for a great cataloging continuing education opportunity.