Reading my copy of Conversations with Catalogers in the 21st century (Sanchez), I came across the essay by Jennifer Marie Eustis (p.220) and wanted to share what she claims are the skills range requirements of cataloguers both historically and for the forthcoming decade. In putting it into my own words I’ve added my own opinions, based on my own experiences as well as some comments I’ve received along the way doing High Visibility Cataloguing.
A somewhat unique skills range:
Methods of copy, complex and original cataloguing (descriptive and subject) – this can be taught in the work place but not an ideal scenario (time limited), and lots of context requirements better placed on an MA or MSc information/library studies……
Authority work – fundamental knowledge is contextual and essential to understanding the ‘bigger’ catalogue rather than just localised cataloguing…..
Knowledge of current and national standards (AACR2, RDA) -I wouldn’t want to take a poll on this in my previous or current library….
Knowledge of encoding of content designation (MARC21 and other schema) – I would see this as essential but depends on the interface (thinking Dublin Core here)….
To be aware of programs such as NACO (Name Authority Cooperative) and PCC (Program for Cooperative Catlaoguing) – awareness of, not sure everyone has time for….
Be familiar with at least one integrated library system and several print and online cataloguing tools such as main types of classification schedules, OCLC Connexion, Catalogers Desktop from LoC and the LCSH Manual – oh yes yes yes! If not we are mere animals……
Be familiar with current and emergent metadata sets, encoding schema, and content standards associated with metadata sets – an awareness of is prudent depending on how much metadata you do versus cataloguing….
Knowledge of XML and knowledge of institutions ILS including maintenance, record loads, and other administrative database tasks – should be inhouse development in workplace based again depending on metadata versus cataloguing work….
Fundamentally know and understand purposes of cataloguing rules in order to know when to bend them, and when to adhere to them – again yes yes yes!
Then all staff related stuff!
They are business managers, computer technicians, project managers,and linguists!
I think its fairly safe to say this is an ‘ideal world’ scenario – i.e if everyone you employ has been to ‘library school’ to use an old term, or you have time and money to cache some external training, or even some inhouse training. Right now, according to another essay in the same book, there is a high percentage of cataloguing respondants who have no idea where the funding will come from for RDA training. In real terms it is unlikely your entire cataloguing team will have all of these skills. In my own department, there hasn’t been a specialist cataloguer for 2 years or longer unfortunately but I’m not sure than even she had all of the above skills or even extensive LSCH or AACR2 knowledge. Scary really. It makes me question the validity of our catalogue, of which we are nothing without. Oh if only we could start from scratch………..
Thank you Jennifer for providing this overview, the essay is extremely interesting, and we will be discussing it as part of the High Visibility Cataloguing #catbkchat on Twitter.
As a final thought – this is why we are core members of the library team: adherance to standards as well as the ability to be creative. This is probably why we’re all exhausted as well!