From the Stacks: A Cataloguing “flash mob” party at the Weston Family Library!

In the past decade, a popular and growing phenomenon has been the proliferation of flash mobs across the world. A “flash mob” has been defined as “a group of people mobilized by social media to meet in a public place for the purpose of doing an unusual or entertaining activity of short duration” (source). These mobs have taken shape as choreographed dance routines, protest movements, pillow fights, and even for the purpose of cataloguing a library’s book collection. In this last example, it is essentially when a group of people come together to catalogue an entire library collection for the greater good of access to information. While not necessarily the same as a “flash mob”, a similar cataloguing challenge was achieved at The Center for Cartoon Studies‘ Schulz Library in 2011, when volunteers came together to add new barcodes to the entire collection. Ever since I learned about the project at Schulz, I’ve been inspired by the idea of bringing people together to build a catalogue. In a sense, it really is a cataloguing party!

Over the last year, the Weston Family Library has been very busy establishing its brand-new online library catalogue for the TBG community. One of the final major tasks required for its implementation is to finish adding the records for all our library’s resources. To help us accomplish this goal, we are going to host a “flash mob” cataloguing event in the Weston Family Library from Saturday May 4th through Sunday May 5th (as a result, the library will be closed on those dates). Flash mob participants will volunteer their cataloguing skills for as much time as they can commit, and our goal is to have the final records added to the catalogue in those two short days!

The Challenge:

We will engage an army of cataloguing professionals to help us get the job done, for greatly improved access to information and the good of the future of the Weston Family Library. I have invited librarians and library technicians from the Greater Toronto Area to descend upon the Weston Family Library to participate in a “flash mob”-style cataloguing party. We have successfully added more than 5,000 records, but there are still close to 4,500 to go, and we aim to have them all catalogued in two full days. Is it crazy? Maybe. Ambitious? Yes! Possible? With your help, DEFINITELY!


On Saturday May 4th and Sunday May 5th, from 10 a.m. until we’re finished!

Want to help but don’t know how to catalogue? No problem!

– If you want to support the cause and contribute to the challenge, you can pledge your support through donations of five, 10 or 25 cents per book catalogued — for example: “I would like to pledge 10 cents per book for 500 books that get catalogued (or $50).

– You can also support the flash mob by donating toward refreshments, coffee, and pizza to help keep the mob nourished while they catalogue all day.

– Or, donate toward the library’s garden tool collection! The Weston Family Library hopes to introduce garden tools to its collection of lending resources in 2013. The Library would make available a wide range of garden tools for loan to TBG members. Each garden tool will also include directions for use, cleaning instructions, and proper storing tips. Garden tools will be stored and on display in the library for members to browse and see, but they will also have individual catalogue records in the new catalogue system (so that they can be retrieved, indexed, and be included in search results).



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