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Cataloging

This section represents some aspects of cataloging that I use as reference -- I have a much more extensive cataloging portfolio that was assembled in class and during my library media practicums, much of it in a format that is not Web compatible.  Please contact me if you would like to see more.

Cataloging is an important part of a librarian's work. The idea is to provide "intellectual" access that allows people to find recourses that contain information of interest. Classification provides physical access to resources by placing them in the library in a manor that allows patrons to "browse" materials that are grouped together by the author's intent. Together, cataloging and classification make a library a useful repository of information and resources.

To more fully develop and understanding of the nature of information, we have worked with a variety of print, nonprint, and electronic resources. In class, and through this portfolio, I have extended my ability to appreciate and work with information in all kinds of formats. Regardless of the format, however, the purpose of cataloging and classification is the same - to provide intellectual access and to provide it in an economical manner (DPI Standard 3b & 3d). 

To more fully achieve intellectual access, it is imperative that classification and cataloging be done along standardized protocols and procedures. This includes descriptions of work, applications of subject heading, cataloging, processing resources and computerized record formats.  Standardization allows a collection to be efficiently searched for each user's information needs.  It also allows resources to be shared with other libraries -- a "two-way" street.   Drawing on the resources of bibliographic utilities and library networks is an important part of running an effective library media program.  

School library media specialists also need to be actively involved with the school's curriculum. In fact, they are librarian/teachers. Because collaborating and building programs is necessary for a library media center to contribute to a school's mission, cataloging and classification need to be accomplished in an economical manner.  

Common catalog formats like SMARTMARC and Z39.50 records represent a valuable resource that allows a school LMS to utilize existing records in the name of economy and customize those records to reflect the needs of their library media center.  Underlying all good cataloging and classification practices are the concepts, protocols, and procedures behind creation of subject access to facilitate information literacy. In many ways, this is the heart of a school library media program. 

Starting with the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), material to be cataloged can be analyzed and organized to consistently apply MARC 21 tags, subfields, indicators, Sears subject headings adapted and applied from Library of Congress subject headings, and creation of 520 SUMMARY, ETC. NOTE tags to create entries that reflect words that teachers and students might use when seeking information. The 520 tag has also been used to provide bilingual access to subject headings and keywords.  By working with teachers, resources can be organized to make curricular units more efficient by extending cataloging to accommodate their needs. 

Because the structures and formats of information are moving into a digital realm, access to electronic resources and other emerging technologies are important. This can be reflected in cataloging in 2 ways. First, when appropriate, records should included 856 ELECTRONIC LOCATION ACCESS tags that refer patrons to Web resources that provide information that might be relevant to a given information need. Second, a Web pages can be cataloged according to MARC 21 and the Dewey Decimal System. Together, these strategies extend the utility of traditional cataloging and classification protocols. 

While intellectual access is the foundation of cataloging and classification, it is not possible to indicate all the contents of a given work or the subtle nuances that information may imply in a catalog record. This presents a paradox - when resources are cataloged to provide information, some of that information is highlighted at the expense of other aspects of the author's work. 

Good cataloging minimizes this impact, but it still occurs. The "flip side" of subject access is the possibility that some information from a given work is not readily apparent from identified subject headings.  For example, typical cataloging for the The Breadwinner (by Deborah Ellis) indicates that the book is about Afghanistan and Taliban. The book also raises issues of women's rights that transcend the situation in Afghanistan.  For economy, this book is often not cataloged in a manner that clearly identifies this.  An emphasis on a few subject headings (in the name of efficiency and economy) will have a tendency to obscure some information. 

Good cataloging takes this into account and a school library media specialist needs to maintain adequate records that provide access to as much information in a resource as feasible to support the school's mission.  In a school library, given the manner in which The Breadwinner might support various aspects of a school's curriculum and mission, it would be appropriate to be sure a subject heading is added for women's rights.

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Classification vrs Catalog
Dewey Decimal System
MARC Tags
Cataloging Resources

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