I’ve been waiting for the arrival of our newest professional collection title The Power to Name by Hope A. Olson. Hope was my cataloguing professor in graduate school. I have read other books by Hope, including Subject Analysis in Online Catalogs, and I find her writing comprehensive and interesting.
The summary reads as follows:
The names we give things colour the ways we perceive them. Those in a position to name hold the power to construct others’ perceptions and realities. This book looks at the pervasive naming of information that libraries undertake as a matter of course through representation of subjects. It examines the 19th century foundations, current standards and canonical application of internationally-used classification (Melvill Dewey and his decimal scheme) and subject headings (Charles Cutter and the Library of Congress Subject Headings). A feminist poststructural critique is used to reveal the presumption that these standards are universally applicable even though their marginalizations and exclusions are well-documented. The book will be of interest to librarians, information scholars and professionals, researchers interested in representation and the construction of meaning, and anyone who uses a library.
I can’t wait to start reading this and, given the topic, recommend it to all cataloguing and information professionals. As many of you are aware from reading this blog, I believe our role in libraries is key to access of information and we must understand the influence we have over communities when “labelling” items for access.