Cheryl Boettcher Tarsala says:

>Keith Trickey's point (that there's a shift to post-graduate CE 
>training for cataloging because the participants at that point are 
>primed and ready for the details) is well taken. The CE materials 
>developed by the PCC and others are outstanding and they reach out 
>at the point of need. However, I am concerned about the shift to 
>workshops as a substitute for a standard cataloging course in an MLS 
>program. I am afraid it is more in response to the perception by LIS 
>faculty and students who've taken cataloging courses and not gotten 
>beyond punctuation, coming away with the idea that all cataloging 
>content can be learned through short-term CE. If a cataloger only 
>learns the rules through workshops, the reading and writing 
>components of a graduate course and wider-ranging discussions about 
>why anyone ever bothered to develop ISBD or how a record interacts 
>with others to make a catalog don't get addressed. Perhaps our 
>standard "cataloging" courses can interface in some useful way with 
>this growing body of good workshops, but that also goes back to 
>asking where we'd expect the average student coming out of one 
>course to be at the end of the term.

I think the other important reason for this kind of shift is that 
increasingly cataloging is not being done by professional librarians, 
but by staff trained in the mechanics, not the theory.  The materials 
developed by the PCC and others are not necessarily designed just for 
librarians and don't generally rely on a good theoretical background 
to be useful--more a "rules and tools" approach.

What I see happening is that even well-trained and experienced 
cataloging professionals are doing less cataloging, and more 
training, reviewing and management of increasingly complex cataloging 
operations, where "handmade" cataloging must play well with 
"industrial" cataloging from vendors and others. The people with the 
understanding of IO and retrieval gradually seem to get involved in 
project planning, web design, and other activities for which 
cataloging training is amazingly useful, but it cuts into the portion 
of their time when they're actually cataloging.

This is not a new thing, and certainly is much more obvious in larger 
research libraries. But I think it is important to remember that 
these trends are not reversible, and not necessarily all bad. I 
remember years ago when people used to worry that OCLC would make 
cataloging in individual libraries obsolete ("when the revolution 
comes, catalogers will be the first to go").  That certainly never 
happened, and I think it unlikely.

For myself, I learned cataloging as a support staffer, pre-MLS, got 
no formal training in cataloging while in library school (still 
working full time as a cataloger), then was lucky enough to begin my 
professional career just before the advent of AACR2.  The excellent 
training I received for that transition more than made up for my lack 
of library school coursework. I've always had fun when training 
catalogers by telling them that I've had no formal cataloging 
courses, and watching their reaction. ;-)

I think basic training in information organization, retrieval AND 
cataloging is essential for all librarians, whether they aspire to be 
catalogers or not. Nothing like getting your hands dirty trying to 
catalog something for teaching you what you DON'T know--an essential 
step for learning what you need to know.


Diane I. Hillmann
Research Librarian
Cornell University Library
Email: [log in to unmask]
Voice: (607) 387-9207