I’m currently enrolled in a cataloging class, and while it’s interesting to learn about the MARC format, Library of Congress Subject Headings, etc….I was hoping for a little more on the future of cataloging. However, the instructor (who has 17+ years of experience in traditional cataloging…nothing to sniff at) made it pretty clear this was going to be a very traditionally focused cataloging class.

I was a little disappointed, but decided that, since post-MARC and AACR2 cataloging wasn’t a component of the class, I’d see if I could scrounge up some useful resources. A week later, I got an e-mail notifying me that the January 2007 issue of D-Lib magazine had come out, and it happened to have two very interesting articles that spoke to exactly the issues I’d been curious about:

 Karen Markey’s “The Online Library Catalog: Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained?” is what the author describes as a “think piece,” and it echoes a lot of thoughts similar to authors I’ve already read and admired: Michael Stephens, Michael Blyberg, Michelle Boule, among others.  What I especially liked about this article was the comparison of the users’ reactions to the online catalogs of the 1980s (when they first debuted) and user reaction post-Google. Not having used online catalogs with any regularity until high school (mid to late 1990s), I hadn’t realized that the OPAC used to be viewed so positively.

 Karen Coyle and Diane Hillman’s “Resource Description and Access (RDA): Cataloging Rules for the 20th Century” is a bit more technical, but gets more to the heart of what I was and am still curious about, being a complete newb to the history of the MARC format, AACR, etc. The article begins by stating that MARC and AACR (and AACR2) were both created for card catalogs, and are woefully inadequate to meet the needs of today’s keyword-searching. Resource Description and Access (RDA), the library community’s attempt to supercede AACR2, is, the authors contend, mired in the same problems as MARC and AACR.

I am not now, nor do I plan to be a traditional library cataloger…but this is definitely an issue I will be keeping up on.