CAT.A.LOG.ING

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Cataloging is a fickle friend.  This week’s content reminded me that mastering the ins and outs can be a it of a chore. 641.5942 BUC (the Dewey number for The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook) – sure that’s so intuitive!  (Not!)  But once you get familiar with it it becomes easier and it certainly is essential for your patrons’ access and your own management.  I used to do original cataloging at the public library I worked at and here is what I loved about it:

  • Solitude – as much as I love helping people some alone time is nice
  • You get to know your collection in a way you can’t otherwise.  The excitement of seeing the newest books first.  Cracking one open to get the info needed to catalog it. Each piece of your collection goes through your hands.
  • The help that is available to you from what other librarians have done with the subjects or publisher provided info, etc.  You usually do not have to reinvent the wheel and can lean on others for guidance when you are stuck.
  • Knowing that you are making that item discoverable for the first time to the public you serve.

As an instruction librarian who does not do any cataloging anymore, I have a great appreciation for the work that is done.  One missing space in an LC call number can impact shelf-reading, weeding, or generating statistics.  Inconsistencies can negatively affect access to the collections as well.  So consistency in the classification you choose to use is important.  Signage (no matter what the style) is also key (Kaplan 82).

I learned AACR2 when I was in grad school, it was one of the first classes I took and RDA hadn’t taken hold yet so it was interesting reading more about it (7).  I like that RDA allows for more freedom and more description and that there is a toolkit assisting with how to use it.  Regarding classification systems I am the most used to Library of Congress.   I was not familiar with BISAC and Metis, but I had used Dewey in the small town library in which I worked.

I like that BISAC would give students the familiarity of a bookstore organizational scheme, but I am not sure if bookstores will always be common in today’s students’ lives either (sad face) (82).  I like that Metis was developed by school librarians with student research habits in mind (83).  I also like that it has 26 categories (so smaller than LC but more than Dewey).  It is fairly new which gives it hope, but I feel like it would need some sort of mandate or movement behind it from ALA or AASL to catch on more.  I agree with Kaplan’s description of LCC being better for larger libraries because of it’s large size and high detailed division of information (84).  I can see it being too much for a school library.  DCC has its pros and cons.  It can be difficult (especially with fiction) and one has to be sure to use the most up-to-date edition so Western bias of original is removed (84).  I did not know its organization (knowledge classified into 10 categories)  fits well with the K-12 curriculum – this is certainly a plus (81).  It is nice to know school librarians have options – I think ultimately your knowledge of your community/school and the state your collection is in at the time you inherit it will help you decide what direction to go.

Additional takeaways. One thing I love about librarianship is the willingness to share and that is reflected in cataloging practices described in Catalog It!  The fact that a lot of this stretches internationally (IFLA, LC’s influence, etc.) is something we should be proud of as a profession.  I was not familiar with MARC field 658 (75) and how curriculum mapping can play a role in cataloging – giving more reason for a school lirarian to really know what is going on in her school.

A favorite quote from Catalog It!  for me was “organizaiton of information is paramount to access” (13) – with the diversity of our collections and expectations surrounding electronic access today this can serve as an effective mantra as we work on our own collections/cataloging.

Works Cited:

Kaplan, Allison G. Catalog It! Denver, CO.: Libraries Unlimited, 2016.

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