I hope it's ok for me to respond to the whole list - I am happy for everyone to hear, and maybe it is even important for everyone to hear.
When I read this, first I nearly fainted; then (and now) my heart started beating wildly; and last, I felt tremendously sad, because this information is so far from correct.
I'm going to start by saying there are hundreds (millions?) of rich, interesting, important research topics in cataloging. If anyone does not think this is true, then this person does not know enough either about the history and theory of cataloging or about research. It is not even true that there are not lots of juicy research topics in straight cataloging practice or cataloging rules. For example, there is a wonderful dissertation on what catalogers consider/are thinking about when they assign subject headings.
There are many very cool research topics related only to descriptive cataloging rules (how do cataloging rules reflect cultural views, for example. If you take a look at the 1949 rules for entry (the red book) you will see in rule 98C(7) a rule for corporate bodies asking you to add the qualifier (Negro) "for Negro [Masonic and related] bodies." Rules 115-128 deal with Christian corporate names; there is a single rule each for temples and mosques - both of which say essentially, "use the same rules of entry as for churches." This last is an excellent example of the critique Lubetzky made of these rules in his brilliant paper "Is This Rule Necessary?" A la this paper, how about a dissertation looking at the history and context of rules that are case based vs. principle based? What am I doing writing email when I could be doing this fabulous research?!!)
Long ago I abandoned my folder of research ideas because it got so full I realized that I'd never, ever run out.
When you add cataloging to instruction (and suddenly the entire field of education comes into play) it seems to me you've got double the number of research (and I mean dissertation length research) possibilities. With respect to my comments above, what role does cultural/social/political context play (or not play) in cataloging instruction? Does the teaching of cataloging theory along with practice (e.g., teaching Lubetzky's "Is This Rule Necessary?" to beginning cataloging students) create different student attitudes toward cataloging than teaching cataloging practice alone? If so, what are those attitudes? How does the type of teaching affect participation in professional organizations? The percentage of students who become catalogers, or who become heavily involved with OPAC selection and development in their libraries?
When I applied for my current job, one of the faculty members here asked me about my teaching in this way "Are you from the militaristic or theoretical school of cataloging instruction?" He meant, do I make people memorize rules, or do I really teach them about cataloging? I hear many stories about cataloging instruction across the country, and I know it is done in radically different ways in different places. What are the different ways in which cataloging is conceived as an academic sub-discipline? How are these conceptions reflected in teaching methods? Are specific methods associated with specific conceptions, or can the same methods be used by instructors who have very different conceptions?
The upshot - I urge you to apply to another school (of course, the Univ. of Washington springs to mind...). How about we talk offline about this?
Sadly, but very happy you are interested in doctoral work,
Associate Professor and Chair, Ph.D. Program
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-2840
From: Discussion List for issues related to cataloging & metadata education & training [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Maren E.A. Mayer
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008 7:52 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [eduCAT] Doctoral Education in Cataloging
I am in need of some advice. I joined this list because my dream in life
is to be a cataloging educator and to study cataloging instruction. I got
my MLS about 5 years ago and am in the process of applying to Ph.D
programs. A couple weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to schedule a meeting
with one of the Ph.D advisors of the program I am applying to, who told me
that cataloging instruction is not an appropriate topic for research (at
least not for my dissertation). Needless to say, I am slightly crushed and
have no good idea on what to study.
I want so badly to influence new librarians, to change their perceptions of
cataloging and to show them how fun it can be. I have volunteered for the
Task Force on Competencies and Education for a Career in Cataloging, but
since I cannot afford (on many levels) to go to the ALA conferences, I feel
like I'm not helping.
I enjoy reading this listserv very much and am hoping that someone can
provide me with a little direction.
Maren E.A. Mayer