In back in 1984 I was one of no more than 8-10 MLS students out of a cohort of approximately 120 students who chose to go the "technical services" route at my alma mater, the University of Washington. Thank goodness UW had 4 cataloging classes at the time, including one specifically for serials that I did not get to take because the professor was on sabbatical the only time I could take it (though I did go through the other three, as well as an Archives course). That works out to around 5-10% and from all I have heard over the years that was -- and still is -- typical. That said, I am thrilled that in the map cataloging arena there are younger new librarians either recently in our ranks or soon to be, which is needed since many of us are not going to be around too much longer (I can finally see retirement on the horizon!)

I'm not overly worried about catalogers "disappearing", what is disappearing is the label "cataloger", if you want to find job ads for this part of our profession today you have to look under "metadata specialists" or similar as long as it has the word "metadata" in it. And over the years my cataloging department (formally, "Cataloging and Metadata Services", a name change that happened when so many other "Cataloging Department"s were doing the same about a dozen years ago) has also shrunk in positions significantly, but it has pushed us to focus on hiring people with metadata and database skills. Like everyone else we do just as much true cataloging (and maintenance) but with fewer people and we are participating in all PCC programs (because if we are going to catalog to the highest standards you might as well do it knowing you are helping other catalogers out too, particularly where the number of people has reached a critical breaking point). 

Paige Andrew

Cartographic Resources Cataloging Librarian

From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of James L Woods <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 3:58 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Modified vendor records

At about the same time I was told that Artificial Intelligence would soon replace all catalogers. We were just wasting our name and should find another job.


Jamie Woods



From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Greta de Groat
Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 2:40 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Modified vendor records


And back in 1983 when i started library school, i was told not to go into cataloging, since it was a dead profession and shortly there would be no professional catalogers.



Greta de Groat
Stanford University Libraries

On 4/16/2019 12:31 PM, Stephen Early wrote:

Back in 1985, when I was preparing for library school, a librarian at my alma mater whom I interviewed for advice gave me the following: ďif you want guaranteed employment once you get your MLS, study to be a cataloger, because no one wants to be a cataloger. Better yet, study to be a serials cataloger, because most catalogers donít want to be serials catalogers.Ē  



Stephen T. Early


Center for Research Libraries

6050 S. Kenwood

Chicago, IL  60637

773-955-4545 x326

[log in to unmask]

CRL website:



From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ann Heinrichs
Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 1:55 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Modified vendor records


At a conference I attended last year, tech services people discussed "succession planning" -- planning for, nurturing, and mentoring the next generation of catalogers. One issue was that fewer and fewer MLIS students want to be catalogers. (How could anyone resist the delicious field of cataloging?!) So there is both a dearth of the "pull" factor and a dearth of the "push" factor.


On Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 1:38 PM John Gordon Marr <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Thatís typical, but how much of that attrition (in general) and the reduced number of catalogers (in general) has been due to budgetary constraints (themselves due to political decisions in funding bodies) and/or acceptance of vendor-provided catalog records that go unreviewed?


John G. Marr


Zimmerman Library

University of New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM 87010

[log in to unmask]


         **"I really like to know the reasons for what I do!"**

                                             Martha Watson


Opinions belong exclusively to the individuals expressing them, but sharing is permitted.




From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Beth Guay
Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 11:13 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Modified vendor records


My institution had 14 catalog librarians (librarian and equivalent masters degrees), including those in supervisory roles. Today there are 6 by my count, including those in  supervisory roles.


My question is, do library administrators value cataloging as much as they once did? I had a conversation with an administrator whose eyes glazed over as I discussed how I work on catalog records one-at-a-time, on ***one name authority or series authority record one-at-a-time*** and so one ... So every year in my self evaluation I connect at least a few of these NACO "one at at timers" to the Libraries' collections and to their future value (that is the future value of the records once library linked data migration takes place) ... the good news is that we have faculty status at my institution, which means that in addition to administrators, a peer review committee from across the Libraries read what I write, and I know that they value my work ... 




Ann Heinrichs

Metadata/Cataloging Librarian | The Paul Bechtold Library

Catholic Theological Union

5401 S. Cornell Ave. | Chicago, IL 60615 |