Summary of Evaluations

Approaches to Explaining the Catalog in Reference and Instruction

ALA 2004 Annual Conference – Sunday, June 27, 2-4 p.m.

RUSA/RSS Catalog Use Committee


Surveys returned=59






Needs Improvement


Relevance of topic






Discussion Forum format












*comments on the cold room


Why did you decide to attend this session?

·          Learn more about what others have experienced, doing now and considering about teaching the catalog

·          Relevance, importance to topic (2)

·          Problem is always something I struggle with so I was intrigued

·          (facilitator) but also the topic interested me

·          As a cataloger, would like to know what elements of the catalog are considered important and being taught; how to improve the way the catalog ”works” to make it easier to teach

·          Timely question.    Nice to have discussions rather than someone talking at you, after several lecture-y sessions in one day

·          Location was a good match with other programs I was attending and interesting topic (3)

·          Instruction librarian interested in teaching catalog

·          To learn more on the concept of the catalog

·          I am responsible for cataloging and maintaining public online catalog interface, and I began in reference

·          To learn more about how people teach the catalog

·          We are in the process of evaluating our instruction content and this session provided useful ideas to further explore

·          Interested in teaching the catalog

·          Concern about fragmentation of access and perception by faculty that instruction in use of catalog not necessary

·          Wanted to find out what type of instruction issues there are and how catalogers can help with instruction and creating better access

·          Universal question in libraries

·          To become more effective in teaching the catalog

·          Currently work in a catalog dept. but will be starting a new job in reference so was especially interested in hearing about some of the hot topics regarding teaching the catalog

·          It’s a topic we discuss and fret over all the time

·          To find out how others are using their catalog and how they teach it

·          I am a cataloger who does some reference and some instruction.    As a cataloger, I wanted to hear how others view format and information in records.    As a part-time reference and instruction librarian, I wanted tips from others

·          Topic is relevant to my job and interest

·          I’m in charge of Reference for our regional library system.    The reference librarians do a lot of patron instruction (and staff training on our catalog)

·          I do reference and instruction to a large student population and there are often problems with understanding the OPAC

·          Because I will be teaching library literacy in the Fall

·          Interest in topic (3)

·          As tech services librarian want to know how instruction is given/viewed

·          To learn more about the catalog

·          Looked like an interesting topic; we are brining up a new catalog on 7/7

·          I’m involved in teaching library resources

·          Heard about it from a friend

·          Work with catalog instruction all the time

·          I teach the catalog to undergraduate students on the reference desk and in classroom settings.    And was looking for ideas from colleagues about how to rethink the work I do

·          Personal instruction needs

·          I teach library instruction, including catalog use.    Plus, I serve on the catalog interface committee

·          Get tips for helping me in library instruction

·          I teach the catalog in many settings

·          I liked the title/theme

·          To see why people would regard the catalog as different from any other database

·          Interesting subject matter

·          Relevance to my job as instruction librarian

·          Am coordinator for distance education and undergraduate services

·          Overlaps perfectly with my day to day activities

·          Teaching the catalog is one of my major job responsibilities that I am solely responsible for in our library

·          As a cataloger I think it’s vital to communicate with reference and to learn how people are using the catalog

·          To get some ideas to possibly introduce at my workplace.    We are talking about re-designing the freshman instruction sessions

·          How are people teaching the catalog and products like SFX and MetaLib, what works, what doesn’t

·          Wanted to relate the relevance of my job as cataloger to the user

·          Just got new catalog-not looking forward to figuring out how to restructure my searching

·          Was hoping that someone would have new ideas/approaches to these issues.    No one did

·          Because I have yet to find truly successful techniques for teaching the catalog, and I was hoping for new ideas

·          Committee member


Did the session meet your expectations?


49 Yes, 1 Better, 2 Somewhat, 1 Mostly, 1 Sort of, 2 No, 3 No response (but comments suggest yes)


Why or why not?

·          Excellent opportunity to exchange/share ideas (4)

·          Expected a presentation but this format worked so much better because I really got my questions and concerns answered

·          Got good ideas/tips for presenting/teaching concepts to ponder for the future (3)

·          Lively discussion, real issues

·          I was entertained and educated

·          Really liked the small group format

·          Exposed to new ideas, also found a lot of commonality with other librarians

·          I leaned what others are thinking concerning catalogs

·          It was even better than I’d thought-excellent

·          I heard different ideas and talked about many different issued related to library catalogs

·          The ideas about and on the catalog are relevant and important, the small groups worked well

·          Use of small groups, which later summary, generated useful ideas

·          Well planned, ability to interact, necessity to think

·          Enjoyed the discussions with other librarians and finding out how they instruct students

·          I like the interaction and hearing from others what they are doing in “real” time.    So much of ALA is talking at you; this was a good opportunity to share

·          Good discussions and ideas were mentioned

·          Large topic with both a philosophical and application-oriented possibilities

·          Great for brainstorming and general overall view

·          Because we were able to discuss some important issues related to the catalog in different settings

·          Didn’t have specific expectations

·          Great conversations and ideas

·          Pam was an excellent group leader

·          Mark was a great facilitator

·          Very good program

·          I wasn’t sure what to expect, except I did not expect small-group discussion. I was happy with the arrangement

·          Interesting conversation with interesting people

·          Great topic and discussion

·          Good format

·          Great format and nice facilitator

·          I learned a lot, which is something I always hope for in any session.    I’m looking forward to the combined results being posted

·          It was good to learn about what others are doing

·          45 minutes of discussion may have been too long.    There was some discussion that stayed focused on the handout and others that tended to share their frustrations at work-i.e. what doesn’t work at their library?    We need to get beyond that in our discussions-I’ve heard it before many times

·          I had expected to learn about the approaches to explaining the catalog.    The discussion seemed to be more on a broader/higher/macro level, which was very helpful/valuable as well

·          Not what I expected, but it worked pretty well.    I found our group was more problem than solution oriented

·          Thought there might be more conversation re: catalog content

·          No, I was expecting more organized, tested strategies.    However, discussion valuable for other knowledge gained

·          No, I thought that we would hear about successful techniques from other institutions

·          Excellent discussion, great ideas, honest opinions


What did you find..


Most valuable?

·          Concepts about the catalog as an information portal with imbedded links

·          Exchange of ideas

·          Discussion at tables (2)

·          Interaction with others

·          Hearing what reference librarians think about the catalog and what their expectations are

·          Small discussion/interaction, rather than lecture

·          Realizing other people have similar problems

·          Hearing about problems and successes at other places

·          Open discussion

·          All good (2)

·          Discussion format

·          Small group discussion

·          Summary/reporting out of 3 points from small groups (7)

·          First part, discussion, lots of different (visions)?

·          Format was useful

·          Discussions and summaries of groups

·          Sharing

·          Suggestions from others about what might work, e.g. asking students to help with instructions, bringing in physical items

·          Reporting out from each group; many sessions skip or rush this.    Overall format

·          Input from others

·          Sharing of information in discussion format

·          Having professionals in the same areas sharing their experiences

·          How much our problems and concerns are similar

·          Listening to people with many years experience and how they have made catalog instruction work

·          Hearing others thoughts

·          Discussion about doing more instruction on the catalog

·          I think I will find the summarized discussion issues sent by email most valuable

·          Tips on how to teach

·          Small group discussions are always helpful as they generate lots of ideas

·          Small group discussion a very good way to collect concrete examples of use

·          The opportunity to hear other opinions

·          Different people’s experience at their institutions

·          Listening to everyone else’s idea

·          Brainstorming ideas

·          Discussion with colleagues-sharing information

·          Group discussion

·          Discussions and report out helped me think about my presentations

·          Discussion at table

·          Format was very good.    We had a lively, experienced group with many great ideas

·          Communicating with reference librarians

·          Discussion-sharing ideas and information

·          Others experiencing similar things, possible ways of improving

·          Table discussion

·          Small group discussion and organized feedback from others

·          Smaller groups


Least valuable?

·          That nobody else has real concrete answers either

·          Having committee members introduced

·          Sharing took too long

·          Large room with lots of people, sometime hard to hear across the table

·          Sharing at the end

·          Capsule summaries at the end

·          Can’t think

·          Hard to focus with this format

·          I would have like to spend more time as a reconvened group.    But I’m glad for the fact that notes will be distributed by email

·          A little bit less focused than would have been perfect

·          Discussion occasionally strayed too far from theme of teaching the catalog

·          Not enough time

·          Table reports, repetitive

·          Rehash of old/familiar issues. I already know that users struggle using the catalog.    Having people state this multiple ways did not further my knowledge




Is there some aspect of this topic that you would like to see developed into a future program or committee project?

·            More discussion about the concept of imbedded links

·            Ongoing discussion

·            Future issues-bringing the catalog to patrons

·            Cataloging-reference interaction

·            What is the catalog?

·            Librarian/instructor collaboration

·            Defining the usage of the catalog

·            Defining the catalog

·            Handbook, listserv, more discussion groups

·            Use of catalogers and instruction librarians to do instruction

·            Yes, definitely.    As a catalog(er), I thought this was a great program and very relevant

·            Just how best to teach

·            How about creating online (or other) tutorials on using the catalog

·            How to improve the cataloging standard so that searching the catalog can be part of a learning experience

·            Alternatives approaches and strategies for catalog instruction could be a program

·            Would like a session with presenters of different instruction plans/programs

·            Teaching the catalog

·            Maybe look at some different catalog interfaces and discussing if they are good or bad

·            Incorporating user input in the cataloging and OPAC development process

·            How to convince faculty that library instruction and allied topics are important (and give us time to do them)

·            Web page or portal with links to catalog usability studies, articles, etc.

·            I think issues related to the catalog will continue to grow and possibly (or most likely will) become more complex over time.    Continuing to address this same topic on a regular basis is valuable.

·            Examples of training programs

·            Invite someone who is an expert on these issues to moderate, or start the discussion


Suggestions for future programs:

·            Discussion of whether or not to name the OPAC for public

·            Try the format again!

·            Cooperation of Tech Serv/Cataloging with Reference and Instruction

·            How to enhance the catalog to help users (online tutorials and in-person bibliographic instruction-differences, etc.)

·            Teaching to multi-tasking GenY/millennials

·            Defining the catalog

·            Yes, regular discussions at conferences

·            Cataloger/Technical Services and Public Services discussions

·            Use of catalogers and instruction librarians to do instruction

·            Discussion of cooperation between public services and cataloging to develop a better catalog and bibliographic instruction, better understanding of the catalog

·            If this is developed into a program, I would suggest working with ALCTS

·            Enjoyed the discussion format

·            Provide more programs of this type

·            Some creative twist on this program would be really useful

·            Loved the format-keep for future!

·            What people are doing with different ILS?    Displays, programmed searches, help screens, etc.

·            Usability studies


Other Comments:

·            Acoustics made listening difficult when a talker/speaker has a low voice and other tables nearby are speaking

·            Acoustics not so good


Please tell us about yourself:


Position/Library:            all over the board and not everyone responded to this, catalogers, reference librarians, and administrators


Type of organization:


Academic                        51

Science                                      1

Public                               2

Museum                         1

Unemployed                     1


Years of experience:


1-5 yrs                              19

6-10                                      6

11-15                                9

16-20                                   7

21-25                                   4

26-30                                   4

31-35                                   2


How did you find out about today’s discussion forum?

Listserv (not specified) 11

ILI-L                                  4

STS-L                               1

Autocat                             2

Digref                                2

Libref                                1

Ref-L                                 1

COLLIB                             3

RUSA-L                          1


Website                          4


Conference Program              26


Colleague                        12


RUSA                               3


Liane                                1


Email announcement              1


Other                                1