Competency G

Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information such as classification and controlled vocabulary systems, cataloging systems, metadata schemas, or other systems for making information accessible to a particular clientele.

Introduction

Standards of organizing information are important because they provide structure and consistency. Structure and consistency empowers information seekers to locate the materials and works they are looking for regardless of where these items are housed. As format options for information have morphed and expanded, organization and cataloging standards have required updates over the years. Several versions of standards have existed as a result, but the intent to provide structure and consistency has remained the same.

After being reincarnated as several versions, the second edition of Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, known as AACR2 became an international standard for formatting catalog entries. In recent years, RDA has replaced AACR2 as the standard for English-speaking libraries. Chowdhury (2010, p. 72) describes RDA as “the principles of AACR2…modified with the underlying principles of FRBR and Functional Requirements for Authority data…along with a number of new and novel features.” While AACR2 and RDA provide the basic structure of the information recorded in a bibliographic or authority record, FRBR lends greater specificity to a record by allowing catalogers to do things like distinguish between manifestations of a work (Tillett, 2004). Machine Readable Cataloging, or MARC, offers a consistent encoding for catalogers to use, enabling computers to read the information in such a way that promotes the storage and dissemination of the information in the future (Chowdhury, 2010, p. 33).

Once bibliographic and authority records have been created in order to link items to their authors or creators and build up a catalog of these items, one of the elements described within the record will describe where, relative to the other items in the collection, the physical item should be stored. In the United States, two common classification systems are the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) and the Library of Congress Classification (LCC). Each of these rely on the content of an item to describe the item, though the two use different schemes to organize materials and different call number formats to label materials according to their relative subject location. There are some similarities between the two outlines. Both, for example, list “Science” as a topic alone. In the DDC, topics within science will fall in the 500s, while in LCC, science topics will be found under Q. Overall, LCC tends to be more specific as it lists twenty-one topics whereas the DDC lists only ten.

Although many of the cataloging and classification standards may seem to only apply to physical items, digital items, too, may incorporate much of the same information. RDA has made accommodations for denoting electronic resources. MARC fields such as 338 will indicate the format, thus enabling catalogers to integrate both digital and physical items into one searchable catalog.

The information entered using these standards amounts to a collection of metadata. The National Information Standards Organization (2004, p. 1) defines metadata as “structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource.” This means that anything from item titles to call numbers is metadata. Catalogs are collections of metadata and, as catalogs are representations of manifestations of information, metadata can also be described as information about information.

Evidence

LIBR 248 DDC LCC Assignment

This assignment provided bibliographic records for materials and assigned them appropriate subject headings along with call numbers for both DDC and LCC systems. A brief discussion following the records notes the difficulty of tracking this high volume of information and the importance of paying special attention when handling such detailed and specific information. Not discussed is the important task of selecting the most appropriate subject headings and call numbers for a given item. Assigning these identifiers arbitrarily or based on minimal information will not serve the purpose of cataloging in the first place, and ultimately make information seeking more difficult for information seekers. This assignment, therefore, displays my understanding of Competency G.

 

 

LIBR 248 Descriptive Cataloging Assignment

The descriptive cataloging assignment demonstrates the ability to create a basic bibliographic record for several items. Using indicators, subfields, and correct fields, these records show cataloging standards in action. A following discussion examines the challenges in creating these records as a novice. Standards for capitalization, punctuation, word order, and more come up as seemingly small details that potentially have a larger impact on the bibliographic record and theoretical catalog into which the record might be entered. The demonstration of bibliographic record creation shows an understanding of Competency G.

 

 

Conclusion

While cataloging and classification standards may be challenging to understand and follow, their importance is heavy. Maintaining updated and correct records for items gives patrons and information seekers the ability to locate relevant information in their libraries. Furthermore, having a basic understanding of how these systems look and operate can endow library professionals with a great amount of power in the searching process, thus enabling them to provide better, more exact, and more precise service to their customers.

References

Chowdhury, G. G. (2010). Introduction to modern information retrieval. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

National Information Standards Organization. (2004). Understanding metadata. Bethesda, MD: NISO Press. Retrieved from http://www.niso.org/publications/press/UnderstandingMetadata.pdf

Tillett, B. B. (2004). What is FRBR? (Functional requirements for bibliographic records). Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/alcts/sites/ala.org.alcts/files/content/events/pastala/annual/04/Tillett.pdf