Thursday, October 22, 2015

Preaching to the choir

Thompson, John W. , "The best cataloger is a frustrated library user : cataloging failure and the underutilization of library resources." Theological librarianship 8, no.2 (October 2015) 22-26.

As catalogers, we are under constant pressure to do more faster with less. Institutional workflows can be predicated on the assumption that bibliographic records created by the Library of Congress and/or PCC libraries can be added to our local catalogs with minimal or no review. "Good enough" is the operating standard. What is the importance of wrong, right, or right-er metadata in our catalog records? We have all seen examples of records with egregious errors, such as biology subject headings and an "SB" call number in a record for a legal treatise. Consider that metadata for electronic materials is frequently of lower quality than metadata for print. 

Using examples in the areas of theology and religious studies, the author argues that inconsistent application of subject metadata and call numbers impairs our user's access to materials. The issue is not easily quantifiable, but without quantifiable data, it is difficult to argue the administrative decision to forgo careful review of catalog copy for accuracy and integration with records already present in a library's catalog.

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