Tag Archives: cataloging

CCQ Research and Opinion: Cataloging Blogs

In CCQ’s recent issue, there’s a brief article on Cataloging Blogs.

This article talks about the growth of cataloging blogs since 2007 and why listservs still appear to be more popular than blogs that deal with cataloging. While I am (personally) saddened to see my blog content described as “Laurel Taurelli includes links to resources that she uses frequently in cataloging” because I hope I offer more than that (including the correct spelling of my last name), I am happy to see this topic being explored. Why are there only a handful of active cataloging blogs and why does it appear that we prefer our traditional listervs over blogs?

I think we do need to ask ourselves why more of us aren’t writing about cataloging. If we are a growing profession, a profession that will become more important in the future, why is there a lack of writing being generated among us?


Filed under future of cataloguing, Our Profession

What comes after IFLA…

As I’m getting ready to leave for IFLA, I’m already thinking ahead to future blog posts.  There’s one area of cataloguing that has really grabbed my attention:  the debate between outsourcing and in-house cataloguing.  In addition to what I come across at IFLA, I’d like to explore this idea of outsourcing.   Why do libraries decide to do it?  What are the pros and cons?  What do libraries lose when they decide to outsource?  Is there a future for cataloguers in libraries?

I’ve been gathering and reading the literature on this topic.  One of the most disturbing themes I’ve come across is that cataloguing is NOT considered a core library function.  What?!!

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Speaking of copy cataloguing…

In my post of July 14th, much of what we discussed involved copy cataloguing.  Mitch Turitz brought up an interesting comment regarding the history of copy cataloguing.  By chance, I also stumbled across this paper by Moya K. Mason called Copy Cataloguing: Where is it Taking Us On Our Quest for the Perfect Copy?

A little Friday reading perhaps…

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Filed under The Cataloguer, The Library Catalogue

Narrative Nonfiction – A New Genre Heading?

With the growing popularity of Readers Advisory Services, it is to be expected that skills and expertise will grow to incorporate nonfiction as well. We are starting to see this trend in Canada.

Not only are patrons happy to seek the assistance of a Reader’s Advisor (RA) when attempting to find that “perfect” summer novel, but they are now asking RA’s to suggest nonfiction titles about travel, crime and adventure. Still seeking a fictional read, a new term has emerged among Readers Advisory Services to describe these nonfiction books; Narrative Nonfiction.

With the emergence of this genre, it is necessary to consider this term for library catalogues. If patrons and RAs are using this to find books, then we need to examine its usefulness in our catalogue and the possibility of implementing it. Currently, it is not a valid authority. However, it is being used as a valid genre in RA databases such as Novelist.

While catalogues are not resources like Novelist, it is important to note that most RAs prefer to use Novelist over our catalogues and prefer their terminology. I find myself continually encouraging RAs to use our catalogue to assist them in finding materials for patrons rather than using alternate resources. Building a partnership between Readers Advisory Services and cataloguing is important. This relationship ties us directly with front line staff and keeps us current on the latest trends in reading and “buzz” words.

It was inevitable, but recently it was suggested that we consider the implementation of Narrative Nonfiction as a genre in our own catalogue. When I first heard this term, I didn’t really know what it included. All cataloguers need their terms defined, so I began seeking out definitions; something succinct and straightforward; something that I could apply with uniformity to nonfiction items.

What is Narrative Nonfiction, exactly? According to Abby Alpert, who wrote the article Incorporating Nonfiction into Reader’s Advisory Services, Narrative Nonfiction is “a style of writing that tells us a true story as a compelling narrative”. It’s a start, but that definition makes for a poor authority and gives cataloguers no direction. As a friend of mine pointed out, that’s an awfully vague concept for a cataloguer to base an authority on. Edward Humes provides a deeper understanding of Narrative Nonfiction. However, after reading his description and Abby Aplert’s, I concluded that the term was just too vague and discretionary to use as a genre.

By its own definition, narrative nonfiction will mean different things to different people. How will cataloguers possibly decide what will fall within that genre with any consistency? Even if we implemented this genre, would patrons find it helpful? I can’t ignore my cataloguing instincts that this genre would be more of a “hit and miss” grouping of titles, rather than a useful heading.

However, with a firm decision not to use Narrative Nonfiction, I still didn’t want to abandon the idea entirely. I believe the idea of this type of nonfiction has significant merit and patrons want to be able to search it. So, I started to explore the genres and headings in our catalogue that will assist patrons and RAs to find Narrative Nonfiction titles.

What I came up with was the following list of subdivisions in our 650 fields:

Case studies
Personal narratives

A colleague of mine is currently preparing a tutorial on Narrative Nonfiction for our Readers Advisors. As a result, I’ve sent her these terms, with search ideas and strategies such as:

(specifically of things rather than countries) are often written in “novel” form. Try performing the subject keyword search: “Salt history” in our catalogue.

Try search a subject keyword and combining it with “anecdotes”. For examples, search “cat adoption anecdotes”.

Case studies
Search a topic like “organized crime” and combine it was “case studies”. You’re subject keyword search will be “organized crime case studies”. Most or all of the results retrieved in HPL’s catalogue will fall under the genre Narrative Nonfiction.

Helpful hint: Usually if you combine a topic with [anecdotes, case studies, personal narratives, travel, biography], as a subdivision, you’ll recall items that fall under narrative nonfiction.)

Even with the above search strategies, I believe we can do better. Our catalogue is just starting to make greater use of genre headings. In the past, we haven’t done so because the software hasn’t allowed them to be as “searchable” as subject headings.

As a result, we are considering the following terms for genre headings:

True adventure
True Crime (which we already use)
Micro History

The idea of Narrative Nonfiction is not going away. The RA movement is growing and we need to find ways to assist it. Perhaps we will not always be able to implement to exact “buzz” word, but many times, we can make these topics and genres easily searchable for patrons and RAs. Collaboration, education and a willingness to change the catalogue to meet the needs to today’s society are essential.


Filed under Access Issues, Subject Headings, The Library Catalogue

Quality v. Quantity

I had an appointment with my doctor the other day.  When I arrived several minutes before my scheduled appointment, I checked in and was told to take a seat.  I ended up waiting about a half an hour before the doctor was able to see me.

She was running late, but I didn’t mind.  I usually expect to wait at any doctor’s office.  However, the doctor seemed to be very aware of the time.  In addition to apologizing for the delay, she rushed through our appointment.  I attempted to explain some symptoms I was having, at which point she began examining me, cutting me off and asking additional questions.

At the end of the visit, the doctor indicated that she would be referring me to several specialists.  Not indicating when or how these appointments were to be made, or if I could take the time off to attend them, she again apologized for running behind and began calling out the next patient’s name.

I felt rushed, unsatisfied and brushed off.  I did not feel that the visit that I had just experienced was professional or patient focussed.  Instead, I felt that the amount of patients that revolved through the doors and at the scheduled time was more important the the individual patients’ needs and at the expense of proper medical care.

In reality, my doctor did nothing wrong.  When complaining of certain symptoms, she performed a brief exam and, not noticing anything immediate, decided to send me to a specialist. That is the way to avoid litigation and medical negligence.  However, I don’t believe this visit was up to the standard that I expect of a professional.  When I visit a professional, any professional, I don’t want to feel like a number.  I want to feel as if the service I am being provided is of the highest quality.

Having had this experience, I began thinking about our own profession and the services we are providing our patrons.

Crunching the numbers
We hear statements like “It takes too long”, “What’s the delay, the book has been ‘in cataloguing’ for a week”, and so on, all the time.  There are articles, presentations and professionals who are always expressing concern over the turnaround time for getting the items out and on the library shelves. Many times, the solutions for increasing turnaround time involve harvesting other libraries’ records, or cutting corners and creating smaller records while ignoring cataloguing rules.

Stats are important, I will never argue that point.  Stats keep us employed and give us factual information to point to when budget time rolls around (in addition to many other things).  However, as cataloguing stats are climbing, are we sacrificing quality?  As professionals, our obligation is to our patrons and the service we provide them.  We have a professional responsibility to provide accurate records with proper punctuation and spelling.  If the name of a book is spelled wrong and we just “trust” the copy, how will that item ever be found?  What if it is a downloadable book and there is no physical item?

In my library, while we try to copy catalogue whenever possible, it is essential that we review the records when cataloguing the item.  I have never found a record that is perfect when imported.  There are misspellings, punctuation errors and, at times, terms or phrases that we either don’t use in our library or do not apply in Canada.  An example of this goes back to my Indigenous Peoples v. Indians subject headings posting.

In the end, even if the book is on the shelf, are we doing any favours to patrons who exclusively use the catalogue?  Aren’t we setting an example that we are not capable of handling the digitalization of information but can only provide proper service through a physical visit to the library?  Statistics show that visits to the catalogue are continuously increasing, while physical visits are down.  Isn’t that a good argument as to why we should be maintaining our professional standards?

While numbers become increasingly more important to justify our existance, we continue to have a responsibility to our patrons.  That responsibility includes providing an exceptional service.  This exceptional service is reflected in the accuracy of our catalogue, the ability to properly find information in our catalogue and the continuous updating of reading lists and new items.

I don’t believe in the saying “good enough”.  If you are aware that your standards are dropping to increase productivity, a review of procedures must take place.  We are professionals, we do not work on an assembly line where the only thing that matters is how much we produced that day.

While stats are good and helpful, I worry that the same squeeky wheels who complain the loudest about our turnaround will soon begin to complain about our poor, inaccurate records.  These records, created at their request, will further add fuel to the fire when questioning the role of the cataloguer.  If the turnaround is too long, sacrifice quality.  If the quality is poor and no longer adheres to any standard practice, what do we need cataloguers for?  It is a never-ending cycle.

What do we do?
Market, market, market.  It’s not easy, but it can be done. Besides cataloguers, who knows what we do all day?  Do they understand that we create electronic reading lists?  Make decisions regarding terminology?  Develop search tutorials? Create new restrictions and settings to make searching the catalogue easier (for both staff and patrons)?  Catalogue DVDs, CDs, Books on tape, Electronic documents, Reference materials, Books and Magazines?  And, by the way, where do you find copy for local publications?

In the end, we cannot compromise our professional responsibility to suit the needs of front-line staff or whomever our critics are.  Justify the time it takes to catalogue to management and make them aware of all of the factors that are involved in cataloguing an item so that it can be found. Electronically.


Filed under Professional Ethics, The Cataloguer

HPL’s Indigenous Peoples v. Native Peoples Cataloguing Guidelines

I’ve had several responses regarding my post Native Peoples v. Indigenous Peoples, etc. As such, I decided to post the cataloguing “cheat sheet” that we developed at HPL to help with cataloguing these items. It may not be perfect, but I feel we are moving in the right direction. I look forward to any feedback you may have. It’s a tricky cataloguing issue, and one that I think has been neglected by many libraries.

If you have any questions regarding how we came to the conclusions and usages below, please feel free to post a comment or contact me via email.


Indians of North America v. Aboriginal Peoples
Use and Terminology for Cataloguing Purposes
Laurel Tarulli – Halifax Public Libraries
July, 2007

Aboriginal Peoples
Use for works that are collectively discussing the three groups known as Inuit, Metis and Indians. This subject heading is only applied when collectively discussing the three groups of Canada.

Indigenous Peoples
Use for works collectively discussing Aboriginal peoples from outside North America or when collectively discussing Aboriginals of Canada, Indians from all of the Americas, and/or collectively discussing Aboriginals from other countries in a global context. Basically, general works that discuss Aboriginal Peoples from around the world will receive this subject heading.

4 or More Rule – if the work discusses four or more Aboriginal or First Peoples in an international context, add the subject heading “Indigenous Peoples”.

3 or Less Rule – if the work discusses three or less Aboriginal or First Peoples in an international context, add the individual groups only.

Example: A book on the Inuit in Canada, Aborigines in Australia and Maori in New Zealand would be given the subject headings:
Aboriginal Australians
Maori (New Zealand People).
It would not be given the subject heading “Indigenous Peoples”

Indians of North America
As a stand alone subject heading, it implies Indians from the United States

4 or More Rule – If four or more tribes are included in the work, use “Indians of North America – [Geographic Subdivision]. Do not add tribe names.
Example: Collective works on the Stoney, Blackfoot, Blood, Kainai and Siksika Nations should receive the SH “Indians of North America – Alberta”

3 or Less Rule – If three or less tribes are discussed in a work, use the names of tribes only. Do not add the subject heading “Indians of North America – [Georgephic Subdivsion]”.

For collective works about Indian tribes from both the US and Canada – use:
Indians of North America – Canada
Indians of North America

If it is a general work on Indians from all over the Americas, see the rule under the subject heading “Indigenous Peoples”

EXCEPTION: Tribes names are only subdivided geographically when discussing modern issues about a tribe in a specific geographic place. For example, a book specifically on the economic conditions of Micmac Indians in Nova Scotia only would use:
Micmac – Economic Conditions – Nova Scotia

If it was about the economic conditions of Micmac Indians in the Maritimes, it would use:
Micmac – Economic Conditions

This is because the Micmac are only found in the Maritimes

CHILDREN’S BOOKS are the exception to these rules. Always add the BT Indians of North America to children’s works. Apply geographic subdivisions when applicable. If possible, also add narrower term (ie. Tribe name).

MUSIC – Use Broader Term with broad geographic subdivisions
Examples: Inuit – Canada – Music
Indians of North America – Canada – Music
Indians of North America – Music (implies United States)

MUSIC – When adding a specific tribe name, add it to the record in addition to the broad term.
Example: [Tribe Name] – Music
Indians of North America – Canada – Music and/or
East Coast Music

DO NOT USE this subject heading.
For the purpose of describing works about Indians, see the subject headings listed above or use one of the following:
Indians of North America
Indians of South America
Indians of Mexico
Indians of Central America
Indians of the West Indies

Examples of this change in our catalogue:
BEFORE: Indian, youth — Canada
AFTER: Indians of North America – Youth – Canada

If the work is discussing Indians outside of the Western Hemisphere or Indians internationally, use “Indigenous Peoples”.

Native Peoples
DO NOT USE this subject heading.

Once the subject headings discussed in the previous pages are being used correctly and bib records with “Native Peoples” and “Indians” as subject headings have been assigned access points in accordance with the new rules set out above, we will begin the next phase of our project.

Implementation of New Subject Headings:

First Nations
This subject heading should be used when describing groups of “Indians” or “Indian bands” in Canada. It should eventually replace our use of the subject heading “Indians of North America” when describing Indians in Canada.

The SH First Nations should be given to any work that deals with those people recognized as Aboriginal Peoples but who are not Inuit or Metis (ie. Only add “First Nations” if the work is about Indians). The term “First Nations” is only applicable to Indians in Canada.

Once implemented, the SH First Nations should be applied using the same rules as Indians of North America. Try to use the tribe name. If the work is about an area, use First Nations—[Geographic Subdivision]. If the work is discussing Indians of Canada, use “First Nations” with no subdivision. In all cases, Children’s materials should use the BT First Nations.

We will continue to use Indians of North America with regard to works about Indians in the United States.

Mi’kmaw or Mi’kmaq
We are waiting for a decision on the proper spelling of this name. We will then replace all records with the subject heading Micmac to the appropriate term.


Filed under Authority Work, Subject Headings

Cataloguing Graphic Novels and Graphic Non-Fiction, Part I

I thought I’d write about cataloguing graphic novels and graphic non-fiction today. This is an issue that was raised in our department recently and involved the addition of subject headings to our records to identify fiction and non-fiction graphic novels. In other words, what do we put in the $v of the 650 field.

Before I go into this though, it is important to understand what we put in our 655 field. The reason for this is that my decision regarding the use and subdvision of subject headings was based on what we include in our 655s.

Because this could end up being a very long post, I’m going to split this discussion into two entries. In this post, I am going to talk about 655 genre headings for Graphic Fiction and Non-Fiction.

When we began our graphic novel collection, our practice was to add 655 genre headings only. There were no subject headings assigned because all of the graphic novels belonged in the YA and Adult collections. The rationale was that the collection was small enough that those patrons looking for graphic novels would search by genre or series, rather than subject.

In later years, we started developing a Juvenile graphic novel collection as well as an Adult and YA graphic non-fiction collection. Issues then arose over how to differentiate between the Adult/YA collection and the J collection. At this time, all of the graphic novels were still fiction. As a result, all of the items which fell under “Graphic Novels” were given the classification number 741.5. Wanting to retain this uniformity, it was decided that we needed to take a closer look at the genre headings to help patrons distringuish J, YA and Adult graphic novels.

It was then decided that we would make local genre headings based on the LC’s genre headings. This would allow patrons to continue to browse by genre, series, artists, etc. and at the same time, be able to distinguish if it was a J graphic novel or Adult/YA graphic novel by looking at the genre headings in the bibliographic record. In addition, separate collection codes were created for each.

Example of LC’s genre headings with our local headings are below:
655 _ 7 $aFantasy comic books, strips, etc. $2lcsh
655 _ 7 $aFantasy comic books, strips, etc., Juvenile. $2local

655 _7 $aGraphic novels. $2lcsh
655 _7 $aGraphic novels, Juvenile.$2local

655 _7 $aComic books, strips, etc. $2lcsh
655 _7 $aComic books, strips, etc., Juvenile. $2local

Also, cataloguers were given the go ahead to create new genre headings if they felt a more specific genre heading would be appropriate. However, they would only be at liberty to do so if the “new” genre heading related to our LC fiction genres already found in the catalogue.

This policy was working very well and frontline staff were providing us with positive feedback, until graphic non-fiction started to make its appearance. When we started to grow a graphic non-fiction collection and the content began to become more mature, we needed to think about how we were cataloguing fiction and non-fiction.

With the growing popularity of graphic non-fiction, we had to make further choices for access of these materials. Our first decision was to classify graphic non-fiction in accordance with our existing practices of cataloguing non-fiction. Each graphic non-fiction item would be assigned a classification number that reflected the content of the item. At that time, we also decided to alter our genre headings to reflect fiction or non-fiction. In this regard, we created local genre headings that mirrored the existing graphic novels headings.

Graphic novels (fiction)
655 _7 $a Graphic novels. $2lcsh or 655 _7 $a Graphic novels, Juvenile. $2local

Graphic non-fiction
655 _7 $aGraphic non-fiction. $2local or 655 _7$aGraphic non-fiction, Juvenile. $2local

As a result, the classification number and collection code would indicate that the item was non-fiction, and the 655 genre heading(s) would indicate whether the item was fiction, non-fiction, J, YA or Adult.

My next post will deal directly with the challenges, our original decision on how to deal with it, and then our reversal in this decision and how we catalogue these materials. Specifically, it will discussion the introduction of subject headings in graphic novels/non-fiction bibliographic records.

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Filed under Access Issues, Subject Headings