Cataloging Rules for the 20th Century

 “For the traditional cataloging community, full and detailed descriptive cataloging is still the gold standard. They believe fervently that this level of description is essential to the continuation of scholarship, and resist most challenges to this view of their role and mission, even as Google seduces their users… The notion that different communities of practice might welcome the ability to manipulate a catalog record display in ways not anticipated by rule makers, and that this capability should be considered essential as rules are formulated, is generally dismissed by this group as unworkable.”

I partially agree with or sympathize with the “gold standard” of fully descriptive cataloging practices. This high level of particularity and distinction has been the trademark of the library profession, and traditionally this task has been a major contribution, even if it is difficult for those outside of the field to understand. However, while there is something to be said about this level of detail or particularity, I also agree that the ability for the catalog information to be manipulated or put to use by those in other information professions is perhaps not fully understood by the cataloging “rule makers”. Coyle and Hillman’s article is significant because it recognizes that going ahead and rearranging the cataloging rules is not the first or most difficult part of the “paradigm shift” that would need to occur. All of the assumptions of the traditional method are spatially bound up from the assumption that what is held in the host library is emphasized in the relief of what this library does not have but could provide access to. Applying a systems analysis from outside of the library community, on how users can best be connected to information from everywhere, is the concluding point of this article and the key to understanding how to move forward.


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