Conversations with Catalogers in the 21st Century

By Elaine R. Sanchez | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

        Michael Gorman

Civilization and learning depend, to a very great extent, on the textual and graphic part of our cultural heritage—the human record—created by human beings since the invention of writing many millennia ago. Librarianship is about many things, but none more important than the stewardship of that human record—a stewardship that consists of acquiring and giving access to subsets of the human record, of working to coordinate the millions of subsets to widen access, of organizing the records of those subsets to facilitate access, and of ensuring that the carriers of texts and images in all formats are preserved for future generations. It is, of course, the texts and images themselves, not the formats in which they are presented and preserved, that is of paramount importance; but some formats are more durable than others, and some formats are more conducive to the preservation and onward transmission of the human record that are the ultimate goals of librarianship and the prime motivation for what we do.

Library school (to use the old-fashioned term) was for me a life-changing experience, as it should be if library education is to be more than a ticketpunching exercise. I went to library school with a vague idea of a career as a reference librarian in public libraries, I emerged, two years later, committed to and fascinated by cataloguing—the enterprise that gives us the bibliographic architecture without which the tasks of facilitating access to the human record and mapping that human record for posterity are impossible. I was, as are all true cataloguers, enthralled by the details of codes, the arcana of corporate headings, uniform titles, Cutter-Sanborn numbers, descriptive abbreviations, faceted classification, the order of names in the headings for Spanish married women, and

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