Descriptive cataloging

To begin to develop basic descriptive cataloging skills, the Project Cataloging Assistants will work at cataloging more recently published English-language books using standard cataloging rules and taking into account local practice.  They will learn how to transcribe title, author, and publisher information and to make physical descriptions of books and pamphlets.  Because modern books have fewer publishing idiosyncrasies compared to 18th-century pamphlets, the Project Cataloging Assistants will be able to learn the bare essentials of identifying the important aspects of a book or pamphlet.  Also, the set of books chosen for the training process all have some copy in OCLC, which means they’ll be working with and interpreting records that already exist, rather than creating new records from scratch.  Once the Project Cataloging Assistants are able to create catalog records for these “training books” they will begin working with the pamphlets, transferring what they learned in cataloging recent, English-language books onto the French language pamphlets from the collection.  As the Project Cataloging Assistants create consistently thorough and accurate descriptions of the pamphlets, they will slowly be introduced to subject analysis.

One comment

  1. As I think back on the process of training bibliographic description, I realized that with each cataloger we spent less time on the “training books” and just got into the pamphlet collection sooner. This was not a reflection of prior cataloging knowledge on the part of some catalogers, but rather a reflection of the number of peculiarities among the pamphlets requiring different interpretation and application of cataloging rules when compared with the English-language monographs. It became fairly clear fairly quickly that after working on the “training books” there were a number of situations in which I felt like I was having people unlearn what they just spent a lot of time learning.

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