I love this post. In Success Story from the Back Room, John Kennerly, library director at Erskine College and Theological Seminary, describes the quiet, unassuming work of the cataloger and how their retrospective project provided access to a rare volume needed by a user at a large university library:
The praised cataloger, while working on the retrospective cataloging project, added a particular 1901 publication to our online catalog at some point during the project. At that moment, our copy of the book was exposed to the world through the miracle of the Internet. The staff member who sent me the email told the story of how our copy of that 1901 book had recently been requested through interlibrary loan by the library at Princeton. In the interlibrary loan system, only two U.S. libraries were shown to own the book: Harvard and our library. After the initial shock wore off, this realization offered a beautiful success story of the value of cataloging librarians and their efforts. On an average day in the back room with no one around, our cataloger clicked the save button to add a record to our online catalog. Little did she know at the time that because of her unobserved efforts our library was positioned to connect a library user a thousand miles away with a book not widely held in libraries. [emphasis added]
We may not know where cataloging and catalogers will end up in the future. It's nice to know in the present, we're still providing access to what users want and need.