Thursday, April 3, 2014

Diving into Cataloging...

And I don't mean shopping with the many books that magically appear in my mailbox! (Though, if I'm being honest, I did a bit of that this week, too. Just can't help it with all the adorable little girl spring and summer dresses!).

We are switching gears a little bit and diving into a module on cataloging. Our first assignment was to work through the first 89 pages of what seems to be a school library media specialist's bible: Catalog It! A Guide to Cataloging School Library Materials.

Let's just say that I am glad that technology has advanced to the degree it has today so that I will rarely need to physically create my own records - this is confusing stuff! It's systematic, and doesn't leave a ton of room for misinterpretation, which does appeal to my love of order and organization, but I'm certainly thankful for the ability to cut and paste records from other libraries' collections and to import records direct from the publisher for new acquisitions.

A few takeaways from my reading this week:

  • I have a great appreciation for the work that the drafters of the initial AACR (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules) did. In my past job, several of our association clients were working on developing standards within their respective industries, and I know firsthand how arduous of a task this is (I was often the one taking minutes of the working group meetings!). Add in 50+ countries, language barriers, and different prior ways of doing things, and it's actually pretty amazing that this work has maintained its relevancy into the 21st century. Kudos to them!
  • Regardless of the system that is used - Dewey Decimal System, Library of Congress, or some other library-specific system (check out this interesting article on a system created in a NYC private school library) - students need to be taught from an early age how to use the catalog. You'd think it was pretty self-explanatory, especially for tech-savvy kids today, but the local middle school librarian shared with me that there are some 8th graders who still come to her needing help looking up a book. It's certainly nice to have consistency from library to library, but if one library finds a system that works for its population, they should have the freedom to adopt it as long as the fundamentals of how to search and find a book are still taught. 
  • Dewey, while universally acknowledged as the "Father of Modern Librarianship," apparently was no saint. To quote one of the articles we read this week: "He was racist, antisemitic, anti-black, anti-everything not white male Anglo-Saxon Christian." Alrighty, then!

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