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Friday, August 31, 2007

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debwaugh

As a high-school librarian, my experiences are somewhat different than those of you out there who are fortunate enough to collaborate with other specialized librarians in one institution. I am the reference librarian, the circulation librarian, the cataloger, the administrator, the technology expert, the instructor in library & information skills and so on at my library. Speaking from that perspective, I agree VERY strongly with the idea that well-done descriptive cataloging goes hand-in-hand with insightful reference assistance. I now include keywords/tags in each new catalog record I prepare, and am doing a bit of retrospective cataloging to add keywords to adult level books on somewhat general topics that would otherwise be totally off-putting to young adults. I was so excited last week to have a student navigate the whole process successfully: Asked me for a reminder of how to access the OPAC. Found the topic he needed using a keyword search. Located the book on the shelf (all by himself--Yay!). And brought the book to me for check-out, where I was able to supply him the added information that since the keyword result applied only to a portion of the book he should refer to the Table of Contents and Index to find what he was looking for. This was a book that had been sitting on the shelf unused for over 15 years. And I loved the combination of the student finding his own way, and my being able to assist both one-on-one and through my efforts at more complete descriptive cataloging. This is the meat, potatoes and pie of high school librarianship!

Chris Schwartz

Deb, Thanks for sharing your experience from both the reference and cataloging perspective. It's really exciting that you've started to enrich your bibliographic records with tags/keywords. I really hope this is the wave of the future and that soon both catalogers and library users will be tagging in library catalogs.

Ron Peterson

Thanks for the link to my blog. I'd just like to add that I hope that both reference librarians and catalogers continue to learn from each other even after they have graduated from library school. We aren't all lucky enough to be in a position to see the process from start to finish, like Deb. Without an ongoing conversation it's easy to lose sight of how one end of process can affect the outcomes at the other end. I don't know that this reference librarian had a negative relationship with cataloging, but on the other hand, I'm not sure she knew why the library was cataloging books at all.

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