Re: [ACAT] Respecting value of cataloging

Posting to Autocat

On 04/01/2013 18:58, john g marr wrote:

I wonder whether a general and brief booklet could be cooperatively prepared by catalogers that might explain these “things” in a language that would be understandable to library administrators? When they say “Can’t afford cataloging”, hand them the booklet and say “Read this before you decide– your comments would be appreciated.”

Of course, catalogers would have to actually believe that what RDA can do *is* “worth the trouble” in order to defend it. šŸ™‚

While I would personally agree to this, I suspect that many administrators would receive a booklet about how important cataloging is as if they were reading something like this: (To be honest, I think this is how many students consider what they learn in their information literacy lessons, but that is another topic)

I think that catalogers have to actually demonstrate that what they are doing is critical to the library–not just explain it but demonstrate it loudly and clearly. No graphs, no theories, no heartfelt speeches, no promises about how wonderful of a future we will all have… if the administrators fund us. Catalogers must show that if they don’t do their work, then the entire library cannot function. Reference can’t do their work, selectors, shelving, and so on. This was completely obvious before the computerized catalog appeared, but times have changed. The public has seen and used other tools that they prefer, and like it or not, the catalog profession is in competition with those tools–especially in these times of budget cuts and when everyone is becoming more “shark-like in an ever smaller tank with less food and water, to the point of cannibalization of various departments”, as one person put it so well. As a result, cataloging is in competition with the rest of the library.

Simply maintaining that we are important and pointing to a book will fall on deaf ears, I am afraid. It is becoming time to actually demonstrate it.

Although I believe catalogers can defend cataloging as a vital part of the library–that won’t be easy. On the other hand, making a case for RDA is very nebulous and I wouldn’t want to do it (we need to understand that it hasn’t been done yet!), but whoever wants to implement it will have to. As I keep saying to the distraction of many, I am sure: like it or not, somebody, somewhere will have to make the business case for RDA, and in addition, to some highly skeptical people with no funding.