“Cataloging in Academic Libraries: their Evolving and Expanding Roles” by Lois Buttlar and Rajinder Garcha

A part of my internship requires that I read and write a descriptive abstract or annotation about articles and professional discourse on the subjects relating to my internship. Over the course of my internship, I will have read ten articles and written descriptive abstracts about them.

In the first article, the authors discuss the current state of cataloging by conducting a survey of 271 respondent who have cataloging responsibilities. The respondents were selected from American Libraries Association’s Technical Services Division. By studying the answer to this survey, the authors are able to identify and draw conclusions about the current functions and the changes in cataloging positions in the last ten years. Automation and expansion of nonconventional areas that were increasingly introduced in over the course of the catalogers tenure in the respective jobs. Also, catalogers are expected to have computing knowledge and subject expertise.

The literature review is an excellent resource for students to glean information about the history of cataloging and to trace citations that lead to other discussions regarding cataloging. The authors establish how over the past, the need for catalogers has not dwindled nor has the need for bibliographic and cataloging access.

The author’s findings and methodology allowed for the emergence and identification of the trends they found by analyzing the survey responses. One trend that was interesting was that 75 percent of the catalogers found a trend toward involving nonprofessionals in higher levels of cataloging. I think this is interesting because it has repercussions on the accuracy of the cataloging records and what that means for the education of library science students and young professionals. There is also evidence of outsourced cataloging which can be seen as a positive or a negative depending on the institution and department.  Furthermore, the catalogers’ roles have moved to be more of an implementation and maintenance manager. They have also been serving a consulting role because the changing library environment.

I thought the open ended comments were illuminating. They prompted me to think about what this means for special collections. and rare book cataloging. This article provided me with an understanding of the roles of cataloging professionals and their responsibilities.

*Buttlar, Lois, and Rajinder Garcha. “Cataloging in Academic Libraries: their Evolving and Expanding Roles.” College & Research Libraries 59.4 (July 1998): 311-321.


Five Weeks In, Ten More to Go

~February 10th-13th~

I am one third of a way done with my internship. I have learned how to perform retrospective conversion cataloging, original cataloging from shelf list cards, copy cataloging of modern books, and the tasks related to cataloging. Rare book cataloging is intriguing because of its reliance on knowing about history, the history of printing, book history, and language knowledge. The congruence of all these different disciplines and areas of study is important to many aspects of cataloging, technical services and the other branches of librarianship. Working in technical services might be considered dull or monotonous work, but if one realizes that not everyone gets to handle these significant materials because they might not exist anywhere else or are just rare in the geographical region the library is located, then it can be an adventure to discover information about them and to identify them. One reason why I chose rare book librarianship is because of the emphasis on the book as a physical object. It is a fascinating creation that has altered knowledge and humanity.

This week I continued to catalog the Elmore Leonard books. They are were fairly straight forward books to catalog except for the occasional special edition with a slipcase or were the second copy in our collection. I also had to type up bibliographical files for some extra materials. In addition, bibliographical file notes are entered into the 590 field.

After, I finished the the last of the Leonard books, I started cataloging the mystery and detective books. The first book I cataloged had a call number that was not appropriate for the Lilly Library’s call number standards. I learned about how to classify books and assign them call numbers. There is a resource called classificationweb.net, which enables catalogers to create call numbers. Bibliographic correlations section is really helpful because it utilizes authorized LC subject headings to help classify books and other materials. For books that needed call numbers, I also learned how to search for authority records to establish correct information.

Call numbers are difficult and mysterious. But once you understand them, they are very fun and rewarding to create.

Over the course of the week, I cataloged 15 books.

The Books of Elmore Leonard

~February 3rd-6th~

This week I learned how to pull tracings, or the catalog cards in the reading room about the retro con cataloged books. I methodically searched for the call number, author, title, the subject headings and personal names that were listed. The library will no longer need them because the item is in IUCAT, their online discovery and search tool. In addition, I filed the temporary cards I made for the Elmore Leonard books.

I continued working with the Elmore Leonard books. I learned how to add another item copy to an existing record of a book the Lilly already owns. It is simple, but I was worried about accidentally changing the record. For a record to reflect two different items of the same title, the cataloger must indicate which information relates to which item. This also means that this item does not need a LSL card to be created. The cataloger can write the additional information of the original card.

Although I don’t get to read Elmore Leonard’s books, I have the chance to learn about how they are bound and what these books look and feel like. I get to learn their physical characteristics as well as a little of their intellectual ones. Elmore Leonard is a prolific modern writer. He wrote Get ShortySwagThe Big BounceThe Last Stand at Saber River, and Raylan (books the Justified are based off of). All of his books look like interesting reads.

Graduating from Retro Con Book Camp

~January 27th-28th~

After working on converting catalog cards to digital records, my supervisor assignment me another project to show me another side of cataloging. The Lilly acquired some of books that are designated to head directly to the Auxiliary Library Facility, ALF. Compared with the other books I was working with, these books were are quite different but just as important to research and education.

I started in the same way as I did with the retro con cataloging. I was guided through how to select a record for copy cataloging and how I can alter a record to reflect what we want it to represent. As a consequence, I learned how to identify different types of binding materials, how to write it concisely and effectively in the bibliographic record, and how libraries can make local records a store house of information about a book.

With these books, I learned and performed different steps which essentially accomplish similar goals. I was taught that ALF books and materials require a special field in the record which contains specific information relating to its home location and identification of the book. I learned the process of preparing information for student workers to make Lilly Shelf List cards by writing on temporary cards, which are stand-ins until the actual card is created. Also, I have to print out the bibliographic record for the students so that they can create the LSL cards. I place a pink/red flag in books that are going to be housed at the ALF.

I took many notes about the processes relating to cataloging ALF and modern books. I also noted tips and things to know about the MARC fields and their structures. I gained experience in writing notes about unique, item-specific details (i.e. author signatures and bindings).

I continued working on the ALF books, primarily books by Elmore Leonard.

Settling in with cataloging

~January 20th-23rd~

This week I continued with retrospective conversion cataloging. I am becoming more familiar with the format and structure of MARC records and with the differences between AACR2 and RDA cataloging standards. I used OCLC’s Bibliographic Formats and Standards to learn the meanings of the different fields and how to structure them and what information to include. I still refer to this resource daily because it also provides helpful examples.

The workflow of retro con cataloging was more familiar than the week before. It was really fun to go through the same steps of representing a book that will, from now on, be available for patrons to search for and request. Even though, this type of cataloging is one portion of a cataloger’s responsibilities, it is satisfying to know that you have helped preserve and make accessible a book that was virtually invisible in today’s digital environment.

A part of my training is to print out the record I just created or modified for a staff member to proof read and make corrections. This is useful because I am able to see how I can improve my cataloging skills. After the staff member reviews my work, I make changes accordingly. Through this exercise, I learned that some cataloging decisions are subjective and that the bibliographic standard, i.e. AACR2 and RDA. In addition, I learn through asking questions about issues and confusing characteristics of books that I don’t know how to represent. For example, I had a book that was more than one volume, so I had to learn how to input information about extra holding related to a specific item.

For books that are without a OCLC record, a cataloger must create and contribute a new, original catalog record. I was taught how to do this. In order to perform original cataloging, I had to create a record in OCLC Connexion in a similar manner to editing a record. I learned more about fixed fields and what other field I would need to utilize. I took many notes on how to do original cataloging.

Over the course of the week, I cataloged 8 to 10 books.

Cataloging adventures at the Lilly Library

~January 13th-16th~

I started working at the Lilly Library in September 2013 as a page. The responsibilities of a page are essential to an efficient and well-organized library. At once, I loved working there because of the friendly staff and most importantly, the enchanting collection of books. The culmination of my year and a half working at the Lilly is a rare book cataloging internship with the Head of Technical Services Lori Dekydtspotter. On January 13th, I began interning and learning about the world of cataloging.  I have not formally taken a cataloging course, but I have worked with MARC records and have created minimal catalog records. As many first days go, it was a typical one, but with a twist.  I was introduced to the tools I would be using over the course of the next fifteen week and conversed generally about what the internship responsibilities will entail. The exciting part was that stared cataloging that day!

The tools of catalogers I have used are OCLC Connexion, SiriDynix Symphony Workflows, IUCAT and reMARC. These programs and online catalogs help librarians, specifically catalogers to accurately represent and provide access to their library’s holdings. All of these tools work in concert with each other to help catalogers perform their work of original, copy or retrospective conversion cataloging.

I commenced my cataloging training with retrospective conversion cataloging, which is cataloging materials that have been previously cataloged before the adoption online catalogs. The Lilly is working its way through its shelf list cards (catalog cards) in hopes that all of their materials will be available online. Starting a student off with retro con cataloging helps the develop their cataloging intuition, discretion, and skills. I enjoy this type of cataloging because of approaches of creating or copying existing records. Plus, I indulge in taking the book off of its shelf in order to create a more accurate record.

I learned this type of cataloging by being guided through the steps. I asked questions about different parts of the bibliographic record and why catalogers represent information in certain ways. I worked like this for my first couple of days. As I continued to catalog, I took time to write down notes and the steps of each process I learned for future reference.

Some things I learned about were: the 510 field about citations, how to select a catalog record from OCLC to use for retrospective conversion cataloging, and how to import records and alter them to meet the Lilly’s cataloging standards. I also learned the workflow for catalogers and how to track the number of books I cataloged.

For that week, I retro con cataloged 12-15 books.

Lilly Library’s History and Major Collecting Areas

On October 3, 1960, the Lilly Library was dedicated as a rare book and manuscript storehouse with its feature collection 20,000 books and 17,000 manuscripts acquired by J. K. Lilly. Mr. Lilly collected from the mid-1920s to 1966. When Lilly Library opened, Frederick B. Adams, Jr summarized J. K. Lilly’s collecting interests in his dedication speech:

Mr. Lilly’s books cover so many fields that it is difficult to believe that any one man’s enthusiasm could encompass them all. It is equally astounding that he was able to acquire so many books of such scarcity and quality in the short space of 30 years. Money alone isn’t the answer; diligence, courage, and imagination were also essential. The famous books in English and American literature, the books most influential in American life, the great works in the history of science and ideas–all these are among the 20,000 Lilly books in this building. *http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/tour/foyer.shtml*

When the Lilly Library was built, it was styled after many of the libraries of that period. Some noticeable differences are that the Lilly welcomes all visitors to muse and learn from the exhibits and books on display in the public areas. But also encourages those that wish to partake in the Reading Room services. With a simple registration and presentation of valid photo-identification, patrons can request to see anything from the Lilly’s collections.

J.K. Lilly’s collection and the University Library’s Department of Special Collections consisted of 75,000 books and 1,500,000 manuscripts. Now the collection has expanded to nearly 400,000 books, over 100,000 pieces of sheet music, and more than 6,500,000 manuscripts, but this does not include the Slocum Puzzle Collection of over 30,000 puzzles and 4,000 puzzle related books. The Lilly Library is full of treasures from the past and present.

Some of the collecting areas at the Lilly are:

  • The Bible collection including the most famous, Gutenberg Bible, to editions from the twentieth century to the first polyglot bibles. Similar to the other areas of collecting, the Bibles have been the focus of several reference works which creates scholarly, secondary sources that are valuable to research and scholars. The Lilly collected Bibles in many different languages and formats.
  • Children’s Literature is a collection of copious types of books which range from classics such as the works of Andrew Lang to The Swiss Family Robinson. The Lilly has curated one of the most interesting collections of children’s literature.
  • The Lilly collects in several areas regarding History and Literature. The major areas are British, American, European, and Indiana. Within these subjects, there are more specific collections devoted to particular authors like Ezra Pound  and James Whitcomb Wiley. The collections contain chapbooks, modern first editions, and books relating to cultural and literary movements.
  • Early printing is important part of the Lilly’s collections. It can help patrons understand the history of the book and its importance as a physical object. This area of the library’s collection has over 700 incunabula titles and is being added to on a selective basis primarily in the major works of the humanities and sciences.
  • Food & Drink collection is assembled around the collection of Mrs. John Talbot Gernon. This collection is primarily of American cookbooks, but also features British and European works on food and drink. The Lilly collects in modern and regional cook books, as well.
  • The Lilly’s collection in Medicine & Science showcases such preeminent works as De Humani corporis fabrica of Vesalius printed in 1543. One influential section of this collection is Ian Fleming’s library that is comprised of books on applied science and technology. Moreover, this collection is still being actively added to through donations and purchases.
  • Voyages & Exploration collecting areas were built up by obtaining the Bernardo Mendel Collection of materials about and from the Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch colonial empires and their expansion into the Western Hemisphere. Other European explorers and colonizers are also well represented. This collection has unusual materials such as maps and atlases depicting the development of geographical knowledge.

The Lilly Library is a rare book and manuscript library built on the philosophy that libraries are a collection of collections. These are not the only areas where the Lilly collects, but I wanted to highlight few of the ones I found to be exceptional. This brief overview is to help readers understand the nature of special collections and the work I will be performing during my internship.

If you are ever passing through Bloomington, Indiana, please visit the Lilly Library and its wonderful collections.