Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

A Survey of Local Library Cataloging Tool and Resource Utilization

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

A Survey of Local Library Cataloging Tool and Resource Utilization

Article excerpt

This study addresses the support of cataloging procedures by examining the local cataloging environment of the North Texas public libraries through the use of an online survey. In particular, the study sought to discover the comprehensiveness of cataloging resources and tools within technical service departments and the level of utilization of these materials by staff, both professional and paraprofessional. Data on use of particular tools such as cataloging rules, classification schemes, and subject headings was collected from 103 libraries in an effort to understand how currency and reliability of tools and resources are determined and how often staff are trained or updated in their use.

Introduction

The quality control of all bibliographic records, whether outsourced or original, is the responsibility of the catalogers who provide bibliographic control for one or more libraries. This responsibility in turn greatly depends on the catalogers' knowledge of and expertise with the cataloging tools and resources available to them. These resources and tools are broadly defined as any device or document (print-based or electronic) that assists in the creation of an original bibliographic record or in the verification of bibliographic information in existing records. This includes input rules, metadata formats and standards, cataloging software and textbooks, continuing education programs/workshops, cataloger's Web-based "toolkits," etc.

The current relationship between cataloging education and cataloging practice has been discussed at great length in the library and information science arena, with a strong focus on the debate about the knowledge and skills expected of new professional catalogers (i.e., how much of both theory and practice is learned in the classroom versus how much training is needed upon entering a new cataloging position). In addition, the issue of paraprofessional/non-MLS cataloging responsibilities has had an equal share of the debate, especially as it pertains to the question of who is actually performing the cataloging in U.S. libraries.

This paper will discuss some of the results of a 63-question survey1 in which participants were asked to give responses on what cataloging tools and resources they used and how often they were used.2 This study did not address the question of where catalog records originate or the specific amount and quality of cataloging training and education possessed by those who perform cataloging, nor did it look at quality of catalog records.

The reality of the cataloging process where cataloging tools and resources are concerned must be observed. An architect can design a house with pen and paper, but a carpenter cannot be expected to build it without tools or materials. If we call upon libraries to "house" recorded human knowledge, then how strong are those who build the houses and what materials and tools do they use? This may be an overly simplistic analogy, but the questions remain fundamentally the same. How does one approach measuring and characterizing this important step in the creation of the bibliographic artifacts that comprise library catalogs? What types of tools and resources are expected to be found in a typical cataloging department? Against what standards are the use of these tools measured? If standards do not exist, how should they be developed and put into place?

This study addressed some of these issues by examining the local cataloging environment of the North Texas public libraries. In particular, we wanted to discover how comprehensive cataloging resources and tools found within the technical service departments were and the level of utilization of these materials by staff, both professional and paraprofessional. In addition, how are currency and reliability of the tools and resources determined and how often are staff trained or updated in the use of these tools and resources? We were also interested in how factors such as budgetary and staff limitations affected the availability of these tools and resources within these libraries. …

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