Weekly response post – Eugene Rutigliano

In “Teaching the Radical Catalog,” Emily Drabinski discusses Sanford Berman’s issue with LC subject headings as a protest against the outmoded language used for classifications. She describes Berman’s political claim against the LCSH as “in some ways a limited one” because he focused on language and he did not take issue with the classification structure being used, which establishes a hierarchy that falls from the primary facet to the subsequent ones. It seems to me from Berman’s introduction to Radical Cataloging that his challenge to LC is bit more nuanced even if it is pragmatic. He briefly touches on topic, genre, and other access point failings in LC-originated copy and he advises libraries to “undertake more local enhancement and revision” to these records. Berman did not take on the single-subject limitations directly, but it does seem like his arguments for granular clarity in the terminology assigned to records has an indirect purpose toward the kind of pedagogy Drabinski promotes. In other words, I think that he recognizes the fluid politics of language and as a result that the task of making cataloging divisions more accurate and conducive is never complete. The volume and scope of his corrections suggests his acceptance of the fundamental limitations of all classification systems.


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