Monday, October 26th, 2009

Simultaneous flash-mob cataloging

On the weekend of October 3-4, we had two simultaneous, two-day, flash-mob cataloging events. Here’s the wrap-up:

Central Park School for Children – a small public charter elementary school in Durham, NC
(, centralparkschool on LT, blog post announcing event)

1,391 books cataloged, barcoded, assigned Dewey numbers, physically labeled the volumes for shelving, uploaded cover images, and shelved. All this was done by 22 catalogers on Saturday and 10 on Sunday.

It’s easy to underestimate how many books are in a library, and children’s books are particularly notorious (skinny little volumes that they can be), so this flash-mob is heading back to finish up the collection. They don’t have a date set (they’re thinking early November), so if you live in the area and you’d like to help, you can email for details.

Erin and Laura Abraham presented “Cataloging: Who Knew it was a Community Service?” at the North Carolina Library Association conference this past week. You can download the PowerPoint here.

The Canton Museum of Art in Ohio
(, CantonArt on LT, blog post announcing event)

Over two days, catalogers managed to add 1,090 books in a total of about 7.5 hours. They had seven catalogers on Saturday, four on Sunday, and a dedicated book lugger (also the father of the flash-mob organizer) for both days.

See more photos here.

Labels: canton, Durham, flash-mob cataloging, nc, NCSU, oh


  1. Elizabeth Thomsen says:

    This is great — I love the fact that these are such different types of libraries. It's been inspirational watching the flash mob cataloging concept take off since the first one at the church in Beverly, Massachusetts. I always know when there's a new one happening because I get a bunch of hits on my Flickr photos from that landmark event!

  2. Diane says:

    A couple of years ago I was doing a presentation to a bunch of small organizations who were sharing a grant for digitizing old local photos. I was showing them the LC Flickr photos, and suggested that they might consider something similar. We were brainstorming how that might work, given that they'd have a bit less traction on Flicr than LC did, and I suggested sending a bunch of Eagle Scouts (insert any other young, technically savvy group) to the local nursing homes, assisted living places and older folks social clubs. With very little effort (and even less money), I'm betting they could get plenty of information on those photographs. It really doesn't need to be catalogers, though they might come in handy to massage the data out of Flickr, for sure.