Weekly Response #1 – Elizabeth Frank

I found the Chowdhury chapter and the “Cataloguing” excerpt from the Encylcopedia of Library and Information Sciences by Taylor and Joudrey to be thorough and engaging reads with one crucial exception — neither provided concrete examples. Chowdhury provided “a typical catalogue entry” with one of their own books, but I feel that it didn’t go far enough. I would have liked a more thorough grounding in examples of cataloging all kinds of paper (we’ll get to the internet later) — books, magazine articles, monographs (I have never heard the word monograph outside of Sherlock Holmes or library school, so I would be interested to see one catalogued).

“Cataloging in the Digital Order” by David Levy also raised more questions than it answered. Perhaps because of the age of the article (it appears to have been written in 1995), it did not, for this reader, provide much useful information regarding how online information is catalogued. If one of the objectives of a catalogue is, as Cutter wrote, to “show what a library has by a given author, title and/or subject,” then how does the internet do that? How can it? Levy writes that the OCLC refers to “cataloging Internet resources rather then cataloging the Internet.” Is the Internet one great union catalogue? Can it be, when no one has catalogued it? And can cataloging the Internet be considered a feat that can be accomplished, by human or machine? Taylor and Joudrey quote the Library of Congress as stating that “people are not the only users of the data we produce in the name of bibliographic control, but so too are the machine applications that interact with those data in a variety of ways.” Levy echoes this non-human aspect of cataloging by quoting a whimsical piece in American Libraries which questions whether cataloguers are as important as other information professionals, and even whether they are human, or need to be. Fortunately, Levy prefaces this quotation by asseting that

“cataloging shares with many other forms of order-making a certain invisibility”


“regular structure is the output of the work of the cataloguers, not the input.”

I would have preferred those soothing statements as an introduction to the subject of cataloging, and a thorough grounding in how it was down in Ye Olden Days, before being launched into the wild blue pixels of the Internet.


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