It’s a funny thing with cataloguers. Most of us tend to be quiet, introverted and bookish. We usually own at least one cat and countless cozy sweaters. We also like everything to be perfect.
I work with a group of amazing cataloguers. They talk about cataloguing, read about cataloguing, and lead cataloguing initiatives both in and out of the department. However, their personalities are all very different. Our common thread in cataloguing is the pride we take in our bibliographic records. We like to catalogue our own way, with our own preferences and we don’t take criticism well. I believe this is the result of the effort and pride that is involved in creating a bibliographic record. We don’t just copy catalogue, make sure the author and title are correct, and move on. We look through the book, turn to our resources and provide the best, most accurate record we can. What makes an exceptional cataloguer is his/her attention detail. We double check our punctuation, uniformity with existing records and authorities and access points. Because of all the sweat and tears we put into our records, it is almost a personal insult when an “outsider” suggests changes to our records. I admit, I am guilty of it. My first thought is always, “what do you know, you aren’t a cataloguer!”. But, after the initial reaction, I appreciate the suggestions because it usually results in improved access and an even better bib record.
In the end, I guess we need to accept that cataloguers, as quiet and bookish as we may be, need to be a little less sensitive when it comes to the criticism of our bib records.
Will it be hard? Yes. Will we sometimes resist? Yes. Will we become better cataloguers? Definitely.