Competency G

use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation and organization of specific items or collections of information;

understand the system of standards and methods used to control and create information structures and apply basic principles involved in the organization and representation of knowledge;

The design of information retrieval systems is informed by the understanding of the system of standards and methods accepted by the industry at large. Standards are a necessity for the creation of a uniform and usable system. To that line of thinking, one of the standards commonly used in this part of the world is the AACR 2, Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd Edition, which was the system taught in my cataloging class. There are other standards used to create structure for information. According to Arlene G. Taylor, the most used bibliographic and general metadata schemas are ISBD (International Standard Bibliographic Description), AACR2, Dublin Core and MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema). (Taylor, 2008, p. 103) In this competency, I am focusing on the skills learned in my cataloging class since I have previously discussed several metadata projects, a digital library of photographs and to organize YouTube Photoshop tutorials, using Dublin Core and MODS.

Bibliographic control happens in a library and other institutions and it can be tempting to forget the root reason for it. Every human imposes order over her immediate surroundings. While information resources are different from kitchen utensils, the main reason to sort forks from knives is the same as sorting monographs from periodicals from DVDs. Librarians create bibliographic records to allow the users to find, identify, select, and obtain access to a particular resource, while the catalog identifies and collocates. (Taylor, 2006, p. 6) There are four types of cataloging: copy, descriptive, original and subject. Each kind will create a surrogate record for the information resource that can then be searched, found and finally lent to the library’s patrons.

Each of the styles of cataloging information resources is a production skill, but standards and processes are the foundation to support accurate and uniform results. The new librarian will need to know the standards in order to catalog or to create processes to help catalogers in their job. The cataloger will use a particular set of cataloging rules and guidelines, likely AACR2. These rules will need to be supplemented with the institution’s guidelines because the rules do not cover every possible case. Frequently, a more senior person verifies or reviews a cataloger’s work since it has been shown catalogers with the same rules, guidelines and information resource will catalog significantly differently. When reviewing the literature, a problem with cataloging and errors clearly exists but is difficult to pin down. While the rules and standards exist for uniformity there can be different interpretation of the rules.

For evidence of my understanding of this competency, I am including two papers on cataloging and several tests to show comprehension of ideas behind cataloging as well as the practical application of production aspect. In my cataloging class, each week there was lecture followed by quizzes and exercises online. I have attached two examples of the tests based on several ideas. The quiz 13 shows understanding of the concepts of Dewey Decimal system and Library of Congress classification scheme as well as cataloging principles. All are overarching ideas that should be understood by a new librarian. In exercise 8, the focus is on the technical aspect of encoding for a MARC record. The act of cataloging and creating the MARC record is an excellent illustration of a method of organizing information. The standards are the rules and concepts outlined in the AACR2 but the method of application is the work of a cataloger.

The two papers show the idea of process and methods in implementing the rules and guidelines. In the collection management interview, I conducted an email interview of the collection management librarian at Oakland Public library. This piece is about the processing functions of adding to a collection. The library tried to outsource the cataloging but found the required error correction to be more costly than hiring a person to do the work in house. The interview goes on to discuss the process of adding barcodes and how the materials are prepared for patrons’ use. All of these steps should be included when looking at the whole process of cataloging. The second paper addresses an article on copy cataloging and series of questions from the professor. The paper looks at difficulties in cataloging such as backlog and the professional or paraprofessional cataloging. In this profession, there is tension between the paraprofessional and the professional. It will be interesting to see over the years how it will be resolved, especially with current budget concerns.

The ability to understand and apply standards and methods used to control and create information structures is key to librarianship. Cataloging is a great example of the rules and standards set to organize information resources. The librarian needs to be able to use those rules when cataloging. Once the material is cataloged, the librarian will need to follow the process further and prepare the object for patrons’ use. There are more than one system of standards in use for the representation and organization of knowledge and a librarian will need to keep up with the advancements in the field. Over time, the current standards will evolve and adapt to the changing environment. The use of Dublin Core and XML is a good example of this exact change. While the standards will change with the current technologies, the principles and concepts of creating information structures will evolve more slowly and the librarians will continue to keep abreast.


Haycock, K. & Sheldon, B. E. (Eds.). (2008). The portable MLIS. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Taylor, A. G. (2006). Introduction to cataloging and classification. Tenth edition.

Hider, P., & Mohammed, R. (2005). Ensuring Cataloging Students Meet the Mark: Testing the Validity of a Cataloging Worksheet Marking Scheme. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 46(1), 3-20.

Beall, J., & Kafadar, K. (2004). The Effectiveness of Copy Cataloging at Eliminating Typographical Errors in Shared Bibliographic Records. Library Resources & Technical Services, 48(2), 92-101.


Cataloging Exercise 8

Cataloging Quiz 13

Copy Cataloging article review

Collection Management Interview