Do you copy- or re-catalog? September 17, 2007Posted by Minerva in cataloging.
Andrew, if CILIP and your councillors won’t tell you, I will. You should stop the practice of re-cataloguing as should all your colleagues around the country. The course you are advertising and holding in Glasgow for cataloguing, in the name of CILIP, should not be for public librarians and there should be no public expenditure on it. If there is a problem with BDS, which, frankly I doubt, then your responsibility is to help them correct it– not to spend public money in the way you appear to be[.]
Without getting involved in the politics of UK public library funding, it’s interesting to note the choice of words used in the post. It’s not copy cataloging, it’s re-cataloging. Please do not confuse the two terms, as they are anything but synonymous. Copy cataloging is using shared records created by your institutional friends, pausing to correct and verify that the information is correct. Re-cataloging on the other hand, is the nitpicky habit of changing trivial information, gilding the lily, while sucking both time and money from the library, the university, and the community.
The fact is that all libraries improve on the records they receive. The panlibus blog responds to the Good Library Blog’s Carry on Cataloguing post by pointing out Talis’ own shared records service. But even shared records, which are based on standards, require tweaking. The ISBN is incorrect (or missing), words are misspelled (it happens), and sometimes it’s not even cataloged in your language. Then remember that for every institution that (finally) inputs a record, there are many more who prefer to wait for someone else to do it. At one large research university library, books fill countless shelves, waiting for student assistants to perform the monthly search in OCLC for copy. More often than not, these books are soon returned to the same shelves, only to wait for the next month.
Even for those records that are available and pass the sniff test, classification must be performed. If the record was created by the Library of Congress or another PCC institution, then local procedure usually dictates automatic acceptance of the call number. Sometimes the easy choice is not always the best solution. Your library may not only use Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress classification. In this country, there are also government documents with there own classification systems: Superintendent of Documents classification (for federal documents) and several states do the same for their own state documents. Woe to the person who must try to integrate all these materials in one collection, when sometimes it’s just not enough to accept copy.