|Let's go ahead and thank Becky Yoose for this.|
And yet there is some dissent here. This is just my impression, but others have pointed out a number of people with this background in positions of leadership, so maybe this is just my perception, or an inferiority complex.
I haven't cataloged an item this semester. Not copy cataloging via OCLC's Connexion. Not original cataloging, using Omeka, or creating a MARC record. Instead, I've taught twelve library instruction session one-shots this semester. And I spent a lot of time writing about information literacy last year, normally a "front of the house" concern. And I wonder if my transition from technical services to administration is related to moving towards more "visible" library tasks, like teaching.
Next week I'm heading to the Association of College and Research Libraries conference, and I don't see a lot of back of the house representation in the conference program. And I don't see that representation in Library Journal's "Movers and Shakers," though some of the more technology-savvy folks could be considered technical services. An aside: I read each and every winner, congrats to all of them, to see if I can "borrow" any of their good ideas for this library.
Is there something to being back there, cataloging and acquiring, alone, or at least the perception, the stereotype of it? Are catalogers worse at communicating their value, and values, than other library staff? As Erin Leach puts it:
As much as we want people to understand our point of view, we have to start talking about how our work impacts the experience of library users in a jargon-free way. We all say that cataloging is a public service, but do we explain how the metadata that has been created and remediated in the appropriate ways has a direct effect on whether or not a user finds what they're looking for? Do we explain how fields in the records we create effect facted searching and how incorrectly coded records show up under the wrong facet? [Read the whole thing, I'll wait.]Does these factors keep capable people from leadership roles, and if so, what do we lose? What does technical services bring to the leadership table? To start:
- A focus on details.
- I suspect the divide between the front of the house and the back of the house is felt more in the back, so library staff who work in the back are more likely to understand the negative effects of silos.
- An understanding of the role of metadata in discovery and in the user experience, per this marvelous collection of tweets.
I don't have any answers to these questions, but I'm thinking about them. Please think with me.