Collection Development, Professional organizations, Rants, School Libraries

Cataloging is FUNdamental

Seriously?  How is ALA not requiring this?

When I went for my MLS there were four required classes at the Palmer School and (you guessed it) cataloging was one of them.  My professor was the man who literally wrote the chapter of AACR2R on music cataloging, but friends who had other professors learned just as much.

Yesterday, I and the other librarians met with the librarians from another local school about how we’ve approached revamping our catalog and collection.  We talked about the history of the cataloging projects (including 2005’s recataloging of the microfiche collection), our rebarcoding on the outside of books to make inventory easier, and how we’d approached both moving books around (like the 300s junk drawer and the yes… but no piles), plus how we went about weeding old, duplicate and unneeded books.  We also talked about creating norms for DDC cataloging (eg, books about genocide in general go in 364.151, while books on, say the Rwandan genocides go in 967.571) and how we’re starting to create the same kind of norms for subject headings.

It’s also given us a great, in-depth idea as to what is, and what is not, in our collection.  Not each book, but each subject area.  We know where we need to add books, and where maybe we have have enough (or too many).

Without understand how cataloging works, we’d have a collection that varied greatly from Dewey (not that I think Dewey is the be-all and end-all, but it is what most of our students will use in public libraries). Ours meets DDC, but not always where the catalogers think it should go.  And — no surprise — our students are finding books easier and making better choices.  Isn’t that the real goal?

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