The stereotype of catalogers is that we sit quietly behind the scenes, not interacting with users. A walk by our cubicles supports this view. However, we know that the records we work on are a kind of direct communication with users, who can use the library without speaking to a person, but have a hard time avoiding the catalog. Even someone who picks up a book from the New and Noteworthy shelves in Perkins Library and uses a self-check-out machine has used classification and the circulation module of the catalog. Other users access electronic resources through the catalog without even setting foot in the building.

Card Catalog in the Rubenstein Library.

Card Catalog in the Rubenstein Library.

Catalogers embrace other forms of electronic communication as well. We know the proverb about all work and no play, and what looks like work may actually be an exchange of a joke with the coworker in the next cubicle via email or Facebook. Our policies and procedures are documented online, and we participate in electronic forums with catalogers in other libraries. So why has a suggestion by our department head that we blog gone largely unheeded? I wrote one post, and it was fun. I got some compliments on it. However, it was not nearly as rewarding as the creation of a cataloging record. A record for an obscure pamphlet may never be directly used, but it will stand for decades, maybe centuries, as the signpost to that pamphlet. A blog post is a bit of flotsam thrown into a sea of unstructured data.

Post contributed by Amy Turner, Original Cataloger in the Cataloging and Metadata Services Dept.

Tagged with:
 

4 Responses to Why Catalogers Seldom Blog

  1. robin says:

    Granted cataloging is only one topic I cover and I have changed focus since I started around 2001 (art/photo> more personal> technology>everything). Blogging has been a very positive experience for me not only in terms of my own professional growth, but in documenting my body of work, creating an avenue of discussion, and giving back to librarianship through sharing my knowledge and experience.

    I don’t think professionals need to blog daily (I don’t) nor do they need to blog, but we do have an obligation to share through some avenue. Listservs and other forums (as you mention), published articles, and/or social media may work better for some individuals.

  2. [...] Amy Turner,¬†Original Cataloger in the Cataloging and Metadata Services Dept. on the pros and cons o… [...]

  3. Jake says:

    “A record for an obscure pamphlet may never be directly used, but it will stand for decades, maybe centuries, as the signpost to that pamphlet. A blog post is a bit of flotsam thrown into a sea of unstructured data.”

    Someone just threw down the mic.

  4. Beth says:

    I would guess that most students and faculty do not know the work it takes behind-the-scenes to acquire, catalog, preserve and make accessible books in an academic library. I think it is important to highlight the work we do and the value that work adds to the academic experience and the process of discovery. While your daily work of cataloging resources is critical to the success of the library, I think telling your story to the community is also important. I would love to hear more about what it takes to get items to the shelf.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>