Posted tagged ‘cataloging’


August 13, 2009

I stumbled into an annoying little project yesterday concerning ghost/co-writers.  Now, one of the ramifications of our budget cuts is that I am now responsible for cataloging adult fiction (which I love doing by the way, but I still dearly want my co-worker back).  

I’m flying through our latest order yesterday when I come across a copy of “Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game” (that’s the title, it’s not actually written by Sheldon).  Problem time.  Our Tom Clancy books that are like this are cataloged under Clancy’s name, but the Eric Van Lustbader written Robert Ludlum novels are under Lustbader (with one copy erroneously under Van).  After much discussion it turned that everyone thought everyone else knew how we were supposed to handle these, and it was time for a new project.

So now we’re cataloging these as, for example, Fiction Ludlum/Lustbader.  But we’re only doing this for the books in which the author that patrons are more likely to look for (Ludlum) is not actually given credit for being an author.  Thus the Womens’ Murder Club books will still be cataloged as standard James Patterson books, and likewise the posthumous V.C. Andrews ones.  It’s a slightly annoying compromise, but I think it’ll work for us.

Now I just have to spend this morning tracking down 10 billions fake Tom Clancy novels.  ::grumble::

Orgainizing By Subject

May 1, 2009

As reported by the Swiss Army Librarian, the Chelmsford Public Library has started a rather ambitious reclassification project.  They’re aiming to gradually migrate over to a system that maintains some of the structure of Dewey while becoming more akin to BISAC.  

I wish them the best of luck, and they’re in great hands with Brian Herzog, but honestly the system seems a bit of a mess to me.  The designers clearly want to move to something a bit more user friendly, a very admirable goal certainly, but they’re still essentially sticking with Dewey’s organization.  For example why keep a subject begging to be broken out into it’s own grouping like computers within the general information section it resides in with DDC?

I’ll definitely be keeping up with Brian’s post to see how this project progresses.  Again, good luck.

April 30, 2009

I twittered this yesterday, but wanted to make sure to give the post a little more prominence as well.  Why is Cataloging Hard? is a perfect summary of both the joys and frustrations of cataloging.  I definitely aproach the job from a similar perspective, loving the challenge of puzzling over where to place a particularly obtuse item, but at the same time longing to throw my computer out the window everytime I have to remember what the 2nd indicators are for a 246 field.

An excellent read.

The Making of a Collection

April 29, 2009

We’re going to have a comics/graphic novels collection outside of the horrors of Dewey at last.  But what do we call it?  We need something to distinguish the collection that will fit on a spine label and which will clearly define the collection.  So, comic or some variation of graphic novel (graphic, GR, GN).

There’s no consensus on this out there.  We checked other libraries and found every option used somewhere, plus some we didn’t consider (i.e. manga).  And thus onto the debate.  In the end comics won, thanks to the arguement that all graphic novels are comics, but not all comics are graphic novels.  We wanted to include comic strips in the collection, and so that edged the debate in one direction, though not without a little bit of a fight.  Graphic novel sounds better and the term is arguably more descriptive of the format.

There’s not exactly a right answer here, which just goes to show how inaccurate libraries can be.


April 28, 2009

I’ve been joking about formalizing this for awhile so I might as well talk about it here.  We have a sort of unofficial subject hierarchy in my library that comes up any time a reasonable case can be made for placing an item under two different subjects.  Biographies beat professions, drug addicts beats biographies, sports beat drug addicts, pets beat everything.

But every now and again a real stumper comes along, and so I give you Crystal Clear, the memoir of hocker player/snowboarder/crystal meth addict/mountaineering accident survivor Eric Le Marque.  By our unwritten formula I think this’ll wind up in hockey (the bigger of the two sports, particularly since he played for the local team), but that’s also probably the least significant of the options.

Some people just need to lead less interesting lives, for the sake of us catalogers at least.

“Us” vs. “They”

April 15, 2009

Heidi Hoerman’s back at her blog for a week and she’s already stumbled right into some controversy.  Well done.  Yesterday she wrote a post on the openness of bibliographic data, which followed up on a great piece of RDA criticism from Diane Hillmann.  Well in the comments someone went out and accused Hillmann of wishing “to destroy cataloging”.  I haven’t seen that level of vitriol in the field since the OCLC discussions on Autocat caused all the participants with worthwhile things to say to boycot the mailing list entirely.

So of course Hoerman had to issue a rebuttal, a wonderful read.

LH PASSL 929.39411 Whyte

April 14, 2009

I haven’t done a proper cataloging post in a while, so I think I ought to make up for some lost time.  Let’s look at the making (OK inventing) of a call number.

The Book: A dictionary of Scottish emigrants to the U.S.A. compiled by Donald Whyte

The Problem: How to shelve our books of passenger lists together as a special collection and subdivide it geographically in a meaningful way.

LH: All items in are local history receive this prefix to designate the department.

PASSL: We have quite a few special collections within our local history department that receive an extra prefix to denote their location (PER for periodicals, VITAL for our vital records, OWH for our Oliver Wendel Holmes collection).  To be honest I don’t like many of them and don’t understand the need for a few of them, but the staff their insist these are useful distinctions for researchers and I don’t really have the expertise to argue the point.  From the examples I listed many of these help to define the items using them in ways that call #’s don’t quite capture.  But in this instance it’s purely to allow us to break the natural shelf order to call attention to these items.  Now they exist in a prominent physical space and not stuffed amongst our rather vast collection of genealogy items.

929.3:  This number in Dewey is for specific sources of genealogical information.

9411: If we were constructing this number properly the next part of the number would designate this as being a passenger list.  However, we can ignore that as we’re using the prefix instead for that and skip straight to the geographic portion. 

There are two ways in which we could solve the geographic division problem.  The first is to put in the name of the place after the number, making this LH PASSL 929.3 SCOTLAND.  But there are two problems with this that made us decide against it.  First of all there’s a limited amount of space available on our spine labels, names take up much more space than extending the call number.  

Second and more important is the alphabetical shelving of these items.  For example, the shelf could read England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Scotland…dividing the books on the UK that would make more sense shelved together.  This problem is compounded by those items that don’t focus on a single nationality, and which would thus be shelved by the author’s name.  This sort of confusion would essentially make the whole purpose of sorting this portion of the collection meaningless.

So extending the call number is the way to go.  Normally to subdivide something geographically you add on 0[number for the history of the location in question].  We chose to cut the 0 out of the number as we do not have anything in 929.39 and it cuts down on the length slightly.

Whyte: So now we have all the Scottish passenger lists together in a useful location (wedged between the English and Irish ones) but we still need a way to distinguish the books on that rather narrow subject from one another.  The author is usually sufficient for this purpose, and when it isn’t it at least narrows the collection down to so few items that finding an exact title is only a mild inconvenience at this point.  Some libraries will include the publication year to make each call number fully unique, but my library isn’t quite at the scale where that’s necessary, plus our spine labels can only fit 5 lines of text, which we’ve now reached.

Future4catalogers’ Blog

April 8, 2009

Heidi Hoerman’s gone back to her blog, and to make up for lost time she’s published 4 posts including the slightly incendiary “Marc was a good & loyal mule but it’s time to shoot it“.

Welcome back!