On Tuesday 18th March staff at the National Library of Wales welcomed a group of 15 cataloguers, from around Wales, on a visit co-ordinated by the Cataloguers in Wales group. Cataloguing staff at NLW had arranged a day of presentations to inform us about a variety of practices at the National Library, and we were treated to a fascinating visit with a quick tour behind scenes as well.
We were welcomed by Kathy Murphy (Head of Systems and Mixed Media Workflow) who gave us an overview of cataloguing practices at NLW, and a brief history of how the current workflows had come about. They had moved from a system where everything was split by material, with separate acquisitions and cataloguing teams, and systems for each type, to a more functional single department and LMS.
As a legal deposit library they are obviously very standards aware, and are responsible for cataloguing everything that originates from Wales. Their primary concern is to capture the national imprint, and to ensure that data is available as early as possible. The new emphasis is on ‘Access’ and they have been looking at speeding up processes.
Both Kathy, and the following speaker, Shân Jones (Head of Non-Welsh Legal Deposit Unit) gave us an insight into what the responsibilities of a Legal Deposit Library are; and it was fascinating to hear that the beginnings of the Legal Deposit Law (in England) can be traced back to 1662. NLW is one of six national legal deposit libraries, alongside the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the Bodleian Library, Oxford, Cambridge University Library, and Trinity College, Dublin. The five libraries other than BL use a national agency to claim and distribute material to them. NLW receives approximately 1,600 legal deposit items a week (or 80,000 a year) from this agency!
In recent years the workflow of the Non-Welsh Legal Deposit Unit underwent revision, and they moved from an impractical small room on the fourth floor of the building (where lifts didn’t always work), to a ground floor room specially designed for ease of flow of material. We were taken to this room, and as it was a Tuesday (the day the items arrive each week), we were able to see the array of crates, and the team in full flow.
As the NLW is a closed library items are not classified but given a running number according to size; their barcode labels contain the location information. A year’s worth of books takes up about 1,600 metres of shelving!
After a very nice lunch in the library’s café, Pen Dinas, we were offered a brief tour by the Education Officer, Rhodri Morgan. Normally a tour of the library would take at least an hour and a half, but we didn’t have this time spare in our programme, so we were given a mini ‘behind scenes’ tour instead. We saw where art works and maps were stored; storage ‘cells’ which could be flooded with CO2 in case of fire; books received prior to the electronic LMS which were classified in Library of Congress; and a view of the office wing which was damaged by the fire (or mostly by the water putting out the fire) a year ago. There was so much more we could have seen, but our next speaker was waiting for us.
Rob Lacey (Head of the Bibliography of Wales) spoke about the Bibliography of Wales which, prior to 1992, was printed in volumes much like the BNB. Since then it is on the online catalogue of NLW, and it is possible to limit a search on the catalogue to just the Bibliography.
Material is included if it is published in Wales, or if it is of Welsh interest. They tend to acquire two copies of most items, the legal deposit copy, and a second copy. The team also deal with electronic publications, and index articles in Welsh periodicals, or those of Welsh interest in non-Welsh journals. Along with the other cataloguers at NLW they started cataloguing in RDA last year.
The final presentation for the day was all about implementing RDA at NLW and was led by Galen Jones (the Standards Officer). Galen took us through the principles of RDA , FRBR and FRAD, before explaining the procedure they went through for implementation, which included a SWOT analysis and their RDA work form.
We ended the day with a discussion, over tea and coffee, of a variety of issues that had been mentioned, and some practical ideas of what the staff at NLW could do for the rest of the cataloguing community in Wales, as well as what we could do for them. We are hoping to increase the utilization of the jiscmail list and the blog with updates and discussions.