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EDUCAT  April 2011

EDUCAT April 2011

Subject:

Re: like having 20 people in revision at the same time

From:

Suzanne Stauffer <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Discussion List for issues related to cataloging & metadata education & training <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 26 Apr 2011 17:26:37 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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"Are you honestly saying that you expect students to go 
forth into practice and then suddenly have a revelation about how 
cataloging practice and theory fits together? How can they have any 
revelation if they don't learn about cataloging theory in graduate 
school and be taught its value?"
 
No, I don't believe I said that at all. And I think that many a statistician would take great exception to their theoretical basis begin called nothing but "derivatives of equations on a board." I saw them that way because I did not have the background in higher mathematics to understand them. 
 
I expect that, over time, as practitioners work with items, following the rules in AACR2, they will gradually begin to merge the practice and the theory. The theory that they have been taught will begin to make more sense, as they see how it plays out in actual practice -- and the practice will begin to be informed by that theory, as they begin to apply theory to problems that have no obvious resolution. 
 
I give them items to catalog in class so that I -- and they -- can tie the theory to something concrete. The homework items serve as examples of the principles and concepts that I am trying to explain to them. I make certain that we have a variety of types, representative of some of the more common variations. 
 
As I've mentioned before, we work on one area a week. It is possible to give 20-30 students individual feedback every week when you're only working with 10 titles and statements of responsibility. It's also possible for them to begin to see the bigger picture. 
 
Of course, I also require them to write a research paper that explores how a given cataloging system is related to the information seeking behavior of a given group. It's the first -- but I hope not the last -- time that many of them have thought of cataloging in relation to anything other than shelving. 
 
My question remains -- how else do we teach cataloging? 
 
Suzanne M. Stauffer, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor 
School of Library and Information Science 
Louisiana State University 
275 Coates Hall 
Baton Rouge, LA 70803 
(225)578-1461 
Fax: (225)578-4581 
[log in to unmask]
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? 
--T.S. Eliot, "Choruses from The Rock" 

________________________________

From: Discussion List for issues related to cataloging & metadata education & training on behalf of Cheryl Tarsala
Sent: Tue 3/29/2011 1:18 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [eduCAT] like having 20 people in revision at the same time



Suzanne & Karen--

       I realize that Mary Miller was asking about advanced 
cataloging. That is a different beast from basic cataloging, of 
course, and the students need more practice with record creation, and 
I'm going off on a tangent (apologies to Mary--my answer to her is 
that I would set up some targeted exercises for specific areas so that 
you're not grinding through thousands of whole records throughout the 
entire semester).

       I also realize that students in the course for K-12 
certification especially will be called upon to catalog stuff for 
their collections that isn't bought shelf-ready, usually the weird 
stuff. And any cataloging class worth its salt should be more than 
"cataloging appreciation."

        But I disagree with the often-repeated idea that "theory" is 
somehow nothing but  derivatives of equations on the board. It's a 
false dichotomy.   Suzanne, Elaine Svenonius and the ghost of Seymour 
Lubetzky will be stripping you of your fuzzy UC sleeve bars if they 
hear that! Are you honestly saying that you expect students to go 
forth into practice and then suddenly have a revelation about how 
cataloging practice and theory fits together? How can they have any 
revelation if they don't learn about cataloging theory in graduate 
school and be taught its value?

        If all a student remembers from cataloging class is how to 
properly space a record in OCLC formatting style (or finish the course 
with a horrific memory of how they failed to understand the 
documentation), they have not learned cataloging, just some clerical 
skills for a job that doesn't require a master's degree any more. I'm 
thinking of recent job descriptions from OCLC or USC or LC where a 
bachelor's degree at most is required--original cataloging is not a 
growth area for employment of degreed librarians.

       The goal in cataloging education is to give students problem-
solving skills and the ability to diagnose whether the records they 
produce or buy correctly apply the standards.  You can't make them 
into full-fledged catalogers in one course, or even two. It takes 
mentoring in record creation (before or after a course) to get enough 
experience under their belts to make them independent record 
producers. Karen, at Illinois, students could choose to do a 
practicum, which is kind of like an internship for credit, but of 
course only a semester in length and with limited work time. Practicum 
or internship, the point is that you get some personal feedback from a 
professional about your records. With 20-30 students, I don't think 
that you can give anyone that level of attention, and I doubt if my 
students--the ones who needed it most--actually went back and reviewed 
my beautifully-constructed keys with detailed notes for everything 
they did.

If I can try to limit the scope of my question and explain what 
troubles me about "how many records do you assign each week?":

Is making students produce x records a week and discussing them in 
class the best way to teach them what they need to take away from a 
course?

Is this a good pedagogical technique? Specifically, does it produce 
the knowledge that all practicing librarians should have about 
cataloging?

An example: out there in the field, many libraries are all hot and 
heavy with converting from DDC to BISAC, or Lexile levels or even LCC, 
and mechanical chopping of Dewey numbers at a certain # of digits past 
the decimal is still done because no one understands base numbers, or 
standard subdivisions, or the function of hierarchies in browsing.  
Analysis of physical classification issues is cataloging knowledge 
that even a K-12 certificate holder must be able to apply to their 
collections. More so than an academic librarian because a teacher-
librarian has  control over how an entire collection of books is 
shelved.

Does constructing a DDC number for 18th century Swedish devotional 
poets and plugging that into a MARC record with the correct indicators 
produce the outcome of  knowledge about how Dewey can work in a 
library? What about if we construct fifty numbers? Can students deduce 
the melding of theory and practice from that alone? I had two weeks to 
teach DDC--would this be the best use of my students' time?

Obviously I have reservations about it, or I wouldn't ask skeptical 
questions. It seems like we don't give students enough experience in 
the areas where they're going to need the highest-level ability to 
analyze cataloging problems. The problem is urgent, because we have 
only one opportunity in one course to pass along some very complex and 
important knowledge about effective cataloging practice, which we all 
value and desperately want all MLS students to know.

I can't say that in my teaching I have found the answer to this 
question, but that is why I'm trying to provoke discussion.

Cheryl


***************
Cheryl Tarsala
[log in to unmask]

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