Sometimes a Catalog is Just a Catalog

Sometimes a Catalog is Just a Catalog :

 
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Question: What is the fundamental difference between e-commerce catalog websites such as – HomeDepot, Sears, Amazon, Target, and Walmart and online library catalogs using Horizon, SirsiDynix, Evergreen or III? 
 
Answer: Librarians don’t create HomeDepot, Sears, Amazon, Target, and Walmart catalogs (but they should).
 
Jobs

Working

One of my friends on Publib recently asked me if I thought there were employment opportunities for Librarians in e-commerce and what training would be needed to get a job. 

I think that is a good question to address here with all of the PubLib people.   I am a librarian and I have worked in e-commerce – web design, product development, training, data base management and SEO.  My former employment (after being a public library director) was as a corporate e-commerce manager. I redesigned a 6,000 product e-commerce website, created blogs and alternate websites for its products and within a year had moved it’s US rank in Alexa from about 60,000 up to around 7,000.  I took a year off to complete graduate studies in digital forensics (which I consider directly related to cybrarianship) and recently returned to e-commerce again to manage the databases and organic SEO for an international company with tens of thousands of products specializing in medical equipment and medical supplies.

 
Almost every college, University and technical school has some sort of a degree program now called something like New Media.  The New Media curriculum teaches things like web design, and SEO, and htm*, and programming languages, and social media construction – basically all of this stuff that makes up the web.   But, when all is said and done, what we create in e-commerce is a catalog – a catalog broken down into relevant, related categories with multiple access points and meaningful descriptions – so that the end-user can find what they want and we can get it to them efficiently.  There is a back-end tie to inventory, prices, features, descriptions, shipping, and various temporal factors.
 
traditional librarian

Traditional Librarian

How does that differ in concept from traditional library cataloging?  The argument could be made that traditional libraries do not charge their patrons and the cost / price feature of e-commerce products creates a completely different dynamic.  But, it really doesn’t.  Every professional librarian knows that nothing is free and although there is no direct charge to the patron finding a book in a catalog – the expenses are paid for up-front through Taxes and Tariffs and Fees (oh my!), Taxes and Tariffs and Fees (oh my!), Taxes and Tariffs and Fees (OH MY!).  Every library book has a tangible cost and there is a small markup that accounts for salaries paid to librarians.  The back-end is tied to inventory, prices, features, descriptions, shipping and various temporal factors.

 
The marketing dynamics of library catalogs and e-commerce catalogs may differ since there is no apparent immediacy to having a library catalog pay for itself.  E-commerce is result driven – the only reason to have a catalog is to facilitate sales and educate the consumer.  But, I believe the every librarian now sees how truly dynamic e-commerce web sites that sell books such as Amazon – by the very fact that they do need to see immediate results – have drastically outpaced the big Library catalogs.  So, although the marketing approach may differ, it really, really should not.
 
Soap Box

Soap Box

So, are there employment opportunities for librarians in e-commerce?  Obviously, there is for at least one.  The problem is Corporate America does not know what librarians can do for them. It has been left to me to explain to the company presidents I have  worked with that Libraries are, in fact,  sophisticated and dynamic inventory control systems – that work just like their supply chains.

Library Schools do not even know that they are training people to create catalogs for e-commerce.   But, they should and given the employment growth outlook for traditional librarianship, Library Schools should be touting the ability of their cataloguers to catalog, organize and describe everything.

 
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Palin’s Guides

And now  for something completely different:

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During this brief Labor Day break, I finished watching the series:  New Europe and Sahara featuring the iconic Monty Python actor – Michael Palin.  I am looking forward to watching his adventures Himalaya and Pole to Pole next.
 
The Pythonesque humor interweaved with a wonderful global perspective and a genuine empathy for the human condition offers an excellent counterbalance to the nationalistic drumbeat provided by mainstream news media coverage.  Palin humanizes the human condition. You feel that you have gotten the know the people he visits. Globe trekking to exotic locations has been curtailed by war, media coverage, and economic instability.  Yet, perhaps now more than ever we need to have a first-hand knowledge of those cultures.  Palin’s treks may represent the perfect virtual cultural bridge.
 
New Europe

New Europe

The New Europe series offers a trek through: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Eastern Germany. 

For many, many Americans the only understanding we have of New Europe is limited to our participation in wars in Bosnia.  The New Europe series provides important cultural insights about how everyday people go about their lives.

Sahara

Sahara Desert

The Sahara series begins and ends in Gibraltar, Spain with the journey taking place in: Morocco, Smara Refugee Camp (Algeria), Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali,  Niger, Algeria, Libya,  Tunisia. 

In the final episode of the Sahara series, Palin visits the site of his crucifixion in the Life of Brian the city of El Haddej in Tunisia.  

 
 
Every public library should offer the Michael Palin series and Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
 

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International Sounds of Christmas

Elisa Babel, MLS

Christmas is my favorite season–the decorations everywhere I go, festive lights in stores or peoples’ yards, delicious treats, presents, Christmas cards, and music in church and on the radio.  To add an international flavor to the season, these are Christmas music CDs in my collection for an enhanced listening pleasure.

Putumayo

  • World Christmas Party –Putumayo’s newest Christmas CD.  Makes for an enjoyable background listen for a holiday party.  Global styles include African, Latin, Caribbean, etc.
  • Christmas Around the World–one of Putumayo’s earlier Christmas CDs.  This has more classical songs including ones you may not have heard.
  • New Orleans Christmas–if you prefer jazz and blues, this CD features the sounds of the Big Easy at Christmas.  Don’t forget ALA Annual heads to New Orleans next June!  (Note: Putumayo features a line of Louisiana CDs)

*Note: these Christmas CDs are part of Putumayo’s holiday music collection.

Rough Guide Music

  • World Christmasfrom the Rough Guide Music’s “Think Global” series.   Besides a few  familiar songs, this CD features songs from countries you won’t normally hear about musically.

New Age

  •  And Winter CameEnya: Released in 2008, I was excited to get this album since I’m a fan of her music.  It’s a delightful listen and my favorite album.  It beautifully captures the Christmas season.  If you visit her website, it includes the lyrics and music videos of two songs from the album.
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Wishing PUBLIB readers a wonderful holiday season!  On an international note…

  • Joyeux Noel–French
  • Sretan Bozic–Croatian
  • Linksmu Kaledu–Lithuanian
  • Merry Christmas!!

*Special note: if your travels bring you to DC during the holiday season, check out the outdoor 6th Annual Holiday Market on the F St side of the Smithsonian Musuem of American Art.

DVDs dead, streaming lives – Netflix Development

Delivering and Marketing Information

Here is an excellent interview on the streaming market and delivery to consumers:

http://money.cnn.com/video/technology/2010/11/16/bst_netflix_ceo_streaming.fortune/

Netflix offers the ability for anyone to become a developer using its API :

http://developer.netflix.com/

This (free) development process lets you create channels with potential global distribution and delivery using Roku, Wii, PS3, PCs, Macs, and XBOX.

There is huge potential for collaboration using this method to create library oriented channels and marketing library services. Library channels could deliver author talks, book reviews, library development, best practices in library management, children’s programming and more.

Best of PubLib 03.28.10

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This edition of  Best of Publib covers  March 15th through March 28th 2010. This PubLib review and analysis includes questions about naming library rooms, thought-provoking discussions about new media archives , library materials security,  and our new poll on R-rated movie access. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include: 

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This edition of  Best of Publib covers the weeks of March 1st  through March 14th 2010. This edition includes questions about collection development, thought-provoking discussions about  known inaccuracies in ‘non-fiction’ works , circulation manager duties ,  humorous anecdotes regarding blondes ,  and the impact of closing public school libraries: 

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Best of PubLib 02.28.10

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weekly updateThis edition of Best of Publib covers the week of February 22nd through February 28th 2010. This week included questions about advertising and accountability, use and implementation of ebook readers,  and our new poll on charging library fees to support other government departments. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include: 

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