The peer review

Although our project is a “rapid cataloging” project, we are still able to create large quantities of catalog records with rich subject analysis.  One method we have integrated into our workflow to help cope with the large number of pamphlets we must catalog in a limited period of time is a system of peer review.  In the French Revolution Collection (FRC), the pamphlets have been divided into portfolios, averaging about 25 pamphlets to a portfolio.  After a Project Cataloging Assistant creates records for each pamphlet in a portfolio, he or she passes the portfolio to a peer assistant to proofread for typographical errors, well-formed notes, and valid subject headings.

The advantages of this process are many, as it draws on the complementary strengths of our diverse team.  For example, some team members may excel at subject analysis, while others may proofread meticulously or have a deep knowledge of the historical events represented in the pamphlets.  Moreover, exposure to the cataloging work of others who are cataloging similar materials helps the Project Cataloging Assistants to enhance their knowledge of cataloging and subject analysis, particularly in subject areas like law and economics with which they have less experience.

After the Project Cataloging Assistants make their revisions after peer review, I, in my role as Cataloging Project Librarian, do a final review of their portfolios.  Because the Project Cataloging Assistants have by this point corrected any typographical or other minor errors, I can move through the portfolios rather quickly and focus my energy on questions regarding complicated subject headings or publication history.  Overall, this workflow has helped as to create catalog records at a rapid pace without sacrificing thorough quality cataloging.

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