Critical Evaluation of Cataloguing

Issues related to cataloguing materials
There are a number of items I would like to see answered.
• Firstly in regards to the MARC cataloguing, how much do we need to know unless we do this professionally? Do we need to have much real understanding?
• Why was I unable to find ANYONE who could help me with RDA? I understand that there is a need (such as knowing what an authorised access point is) to understand the basic principles, but unless we do this professionally how much do we need to know?
• I like the idea of controlled vocabulary for categorising. I feel that the SCIS theory made a lot of sense to me. One of the elements that made sense to me was the truncation of call numbers in schools. However, looking at some of the examples in the assignment, there were call numbers in a school with over the standard nine digits (three before the decimal and more than six digits after the decimal). Why does this occur? Surely, especially in a primary school library the TL should reduce this number down. Maybe I am being too protective here but given that our collection is not as extensive as other libraries I would opt to go no further than four places after the decimal if possible. Asking a student in Year Two to go and find book number 371.07129456 on the shelf is quite intimidating.
• Do you think that there will ever be a system to replace DDC? Is DDC so successful in its systems that it can keep going? What about school libraries that have particular sections that are so overcrowded but other sections that have hardly any resources? Does ensuring that all ten main classes have sufficient resources constitute a balanced library collection?
• How would the TL list the web-based resources available for a course for students to access? On the current ACT Backpack there is no webpages listed or PDFs. DVDs and sound recordings are kept away from the students and are not for student borrowing. Will this change?
• I remember back to when I started at my last school. The TL did a tour of the library and very proudly showed me the vertical files that she kept. I do not think I referred to them once. How do we as potential TLs recognise that a resource we are categorising is not being used and let it go?
The future of cataloguing
I feel that I have a growing respect for this subject and its future. As I said at the beginning of this blog cataloguing was one of my favourite tasks while I was working at the Co-op Bookshop. But there are a few issues. I read an interesting article called ‘ “Tomorrow never knows”: the end of cataloguing?’. (Danskin, 2007) This article raises a number of issues for the future of cataloguing.
1. There is actually an increasing number of monograph titles being published. There is no shortage of material to catalogue. Financial support to libraries is not increasing at the same rate.
2. Once upon a time it took a long process to get a book published. But now anyone can publish a book or a work and these new titles need to be evaluated. The sheer volume of these new resources defies the traditional cataloguing process. This includes new resource types such as webpages and online journal articles.
3. The old fashioned catalogue are becoming categorised as difficult to use and boring in appearance. OPAC usage is declining in favour of web-based searches.
4. Cataloguing is an expensive process. Many cataloguers are at a retirement age and there is a worry that there are fewer cataloguers out there to replace them. Also consider that the object of cataloguing is to save time (and maybe money) for the end user.
5. Cataloguing is still relevant in a web environment as there is no decline of new resources available. If new publications (print or web-based) are to be added to library collections they will have to be catalogued.
6. Cataloguing is about much more than describing the resource, it is also about establishing a set of relationships and this is important work that cataloguers do. The new OPACs are favouring an increase in the number of access points. Web technologies offer the opportunity to integrate the strengths of the printed catalogues and OPACs into a powerful tool for navigating the world’s knowledge.
7. The entire web does not need to be catalogued but libraries can be selective in what they choose to put in their collections. Web-based resources may be of interest to the general public or they may be of little interest.
8. Spreading the load has been of great benefit to librarians. Having libraries cooperate with one another also benefits. The adoption of RDA is an important example of content standards and sharing information.
9. The future of cataloguing may mean less documentation. It is also believed to shift from the minutiae of description to the principles of organisation. Allocating resources to the elements which can be controlled.
10. It is hard to imagine the web without catalogues. Some of the most popular online resources such as internet movie databases have strong bibliographic underpinning. There are also services where you can catalogue to books in your own library. There still is a future for cataloguing!

What this means for schools is that the nature of resources we may want to include in our school library is changing. This will always happen. There are services available for the TL so that they personally should spend little time cataloguing because it is already done by a subscription service. If anything cataloguing is more important than ever, because information does not have the checks that it used to and it is important to vet information for inaccuracies as this process is not done by publishing houses as it once was.
Cataloguing is about putting the resources together in a logical sequence so they can be found and used. It is about linking related items together. It is about teaching the strengths of the OPAC over web-based searches. It means adapting services for the end-users. It is still needed.

ACT Education and Training Directorate. (2014) Backpack. Retrieved from
American Library Association, Canadian Library Association, and CILIP: Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. (2010). RDA Toolkit. Retrieved from
Charles Sturt University. (not known). INF328/510 Application of bibliographic standards: Cataloguing exercises. Retrieved from
Charles Sturt University. (2014) ETL505: SCIS subject headings workbook. Retrieved from
Danskin, A. (2007). “Tomorrow never knows”: the end of cataloguing? IFLA Journal, Vol.33(3), pp.205-209. Retrieved from
Dowling, A. (2014, August, 24) Ass1Forum. Online Forum Comment. Retrieved from
Education Services Australia (ESA). (2011a) Guidelines to using SCIS subject headings. Retrieved from
ESA. (2011b). Overview and principles of SCIS subject headings. Retrieved from
ESA. (2013). SCIS Standards for cataloguing and data entry. Retrieved from
Garrison, K. (2014). Classification. [ETL505 Module 5]. Retrieved from
Hider, P. (2012) Information resource description: Creating and managing metadata. London: Facet Publishing
Library of Congress. (2014). Library of Congress. Retrieved from
National Library of Australia. (2014). Trove. Retrieved from
Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC). (2014a). Introduction to the DeweyDecimal Classification. Retrieved from
OCLC. (2014). Classify. Retrieved from
SCIS. (2013). Schools catalogue information service. Retrieved from

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