Volume 45, no. 3, 2008

The Intellectual and Professional World of Cataloging

Qiang Jin
Guest Editor


Introduction, Qiang Jin, Guest Editor


The Library of Congress and Cataloging’s Future
Deanna Marcum

ABSTRACT: A recent change in cataloging at the Library of Congress, and the recent publication of reports calling for broader changes in cataloging generally, have made catalogers wonder about their future, and about what to expect from LC. This article examines LC’s historical relations with other libraries, the content of proposals for broad changes in cataloging, the significance for cataloging of commercial "content organizers" such as Google, and expectations from a new Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, commissioned by LC to report in 2007.

KEYWORDS: bibliographic control, cataloging changes, cataloging future, cataloging reports, Google, Library of Congress, SARs, search engines, series, Working Group on Bibliographic Control.


Educators: What Are the Cataloging Issues Students Get Excited About? – Professional and Intellectual Appeals of Cataloging and Students’ Misconceptions of Cataloging
Shawne D. Miksa

ABSTRACT: This paper discusses the professional and intellectual appeals demonstrated by cataloging students, as well as some common misconceptions. Given the current digital environment and the "Amazoogle" effect, students face many challenges when striving to complete a basic course in descriptive and subject cataloging. In the process, they face issues of varieties of information objects, how to tame tools such as AACR2 and LCSH, and how MARC encoding fits into the overall process of cataloging. They also must learn to re-conceptualize their ideas of copy cataloging and learn to appreciate the authoritative power that comes with using and applying cataloger’s judgment.

KEYWORDS: cataloger’s judgment, catalogers, cataloging education, descriptive cataloging, subject cataloging, AACR2, Google, MARC, LCSH, search engines, "Amazoogle effect"


Unraveling the ‘Secrets of the Craft’: Mentoring as a Device for Demystifying Technical Services for Students
Kathryn Luther Henderson and William T Henderson

ABSTRACT: The technical service processes are frequently either unknown or a mystery to students of library and information science. Various methods can help instruct students about the technical services. Since 1995, Technical Services Functions, a graduate level course offered at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has included a mentoring component partnering students with librarians or archivists actively working in technical services related work. The processes, perceptions, outcomes, problems and successes of this experience are detailed.

KEYWORDS: technical services, education for librarianship, mentoring, core values, preservation, acquisitions, serials, professional development


Rethinking What We Catalog: Documents as Cultural Artifacts
Richard P. Smiraglia

ABSTRACT: Cataloging is at its most interesting when it is comprehended as part of a larger, meaningful, objective. Resource description is a complex task; but the essence of librarianship is curatorship of a collection, and that sense of curatorial responsibility is one of the things that makes resource description into cataloging—that is, professional responsibility is the difference between the task of transcription and the satisfaction of professional decisions well-made. Part of the essential difference is comprehension of the cultural milieu from which specific resources arise, and the modes of scholarship that might be used to nudge them to reveal their secrets for the advancement of knowledge. In this paper I describe a course designed to lend excitement and professional judgment to the education of future catalogers and collection managers by conveying the notion that all documents are, in fact, cultural artifacts. Part of a knowledge-sensitive curriculum for knowledge organization, the purpose of this course is to go beyond the concept of documents as mere packets of information to demonstrate that each is a product of its time and circumstances. Bibliographic skill leads to greater comfort with the intellectual and cultural forces that impel the creation of documents. Students become comfortable with the curatorial side of cataloging—the placement of each document in its cultural milieu as the goal of resource description, rather than the act of description itself.

KEYWORDS: cataloging, resource description, collection management, curatorship, bibliography, bibliometrics, social epistemology


Experiences of Newly-Graduated Cataloging Librarians
Rebecca L. Mugridge

ABSTRACT: This study presents the results of a survey that addressed the experiences of newly-graduated cataloging librarians. Focusing on qualitative rather than quantitative data, the survey gathered information about their position responsibilities, what new catalogers liked and disliked about their jobs, the need for on-the-job training, whether they felt prepared to take on their responsibilities, whether they had any preconceptions about what a cataloging job would be like, and whether their experiences confirmed those preconceptions.

KEYWORDS: catalogers, cataloging, new employees, new catalogers, job experiences, cataloger surveys, employee perceptions


Stepping Out: The Expanding Role of Catalogers in Academic Libraries and Academic Institutions
David Banush

ABSTRACT: The stereotype of the cataloger as an isolated, back-room practitioner has persisted among many in the profession, despite years of evidence to the contrary. This paper examines some roles that catalog librarians have long played within their institutions and outside of technical services. The example of the various roles catalogers have assumed at Cornell University Library is used to illustrate some of the possible ways catalogers contribute to the research and teaching missions of the institution that extend beyond their traditional roles. The paper also touches briefly on possible future opportunities for catalogers to participate in the intellectual community of the university.

KEYWORDS: catalogers, role, intellectual life, academic life, outreach, teaching, research


Is FAST the Right Direction for a New System of Subject Cataloging and Metadata?
Qiang Jin

ABSTRACT: The Subject Analysis Committee Subcommittee on FAST of the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) was established in the fall of 2004 to explore issues related to the implementation of the Faceted Application of Subject Terminology (FAST) subject heading schema. FAST is being developed at the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and is derived from the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) with a simplified syntax. This paper is based on comments by the Subject Analysis Committee Subcommittee on FAST, which reviewed a sample of 5,000 bibliographic records with both LCSH and FAST headings. It provides the library community with some understanding of FAST, a new system of subject cataloging and metadata.

KEYWORDS: LCSH, FAST, topical facet, geographic facet, names facets, form facet, chronological facet



The Intellectual and Professional World of Cataloging


Catalogers have played a major role in enabling intellectual access to research and curricular materials for many years. Because of technological advancement, catalogers are now expanding beyond creating MARC records to include other metadata formats. As collecting and managing information becomes more complicated, catalogers’ skills in describing, classifying, and organizing information for access by users will take on increasing importance, particularly in the areas of metadata schema and controlled vocabulary. In the future, catalogers will continue to play an important role in designing organization and retrieval of resources.

The purpose of this issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly is to explore the intellectual and professional world of cataloging to encourage more people to become catalogers. The issue begins with an article that describes how the Library of Congress has worked with other libraries for over a century to provide cataloging services in the United States and other countries. The cataloging agenda of the Library of Congress for the next few years will be based on the final report by the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, due November 2007. The second article describes some of the cataloging issues students are excited about and popular misconceptions. Today’s library school students question the value of traditional cataloging tools such as AACR2 and LCSH in this age of "Amazoogle". The third paper describes a course for catalogers and collection managers, based on the idea that all documents are cultural artifacts. It states that documents must not only be collocated by author or title or subject, but also culturally collocated as well. The fourth article describes a successful program at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). From 1995 to 2006, instructors of the Technical Services Function class have included a mentoring component partnering students with librarians or archivists actively performing technical services-related work to provide students with hands-on experience. This program has benefited both mentees and mentors. The fifth article summarizes the results of a survey of newly graduated cataloging librarians. Most respondents feel that the cataloging courses are helpful, and almost everyone has had some on-the-job training. Many of these new cataloging librarians have a wide range of responsibilities that include cataloging, integrated library systems support, collection development, reference, instruction, training, circulation, preservation and metadata creation. The sixth article examines the role of cataloging librarians today. Like many other research university libraries, cataloging librarians at Cornell University Library not only organize resources to provide users with intellectual access to research and curricular materials, but also contribute to the research and teaching mission of the university by doing work beyond their traditional roles. The final article provides the library community with some understanding of FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology), a new system of subject cataloging and metadata. It indicates that the faceted approach to subject access might be another good way to help users find resources they need.

Qiang Jin, Guest Editor


Return to the top of the page.


©Haworth Press, Inc.