Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Library of Congress Classification Web

When I first began cataloging in the library here at UC Berkeley, I would often need to go back to our printed schedules in order to determine the classification number of an item I was cataloging. Now I rarely have to do so, as we have online the Library of Congress Classification Web, which matches LC subject headings with LC and Dewey classification numbers; it also matches LC and Dewey classification numbers, or provides approximate matches. The main subject area that still requires me to go back to the printed schedules is Law, that is the K series. Perhaps there is something I don't know, but it seems that Classification Web does not provide the kind of detailed correlations for subject headings in this area that it provides in all other subject classifications.

I will probably discuss Classification Web more in a future posting.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

OCLC online guide

I was once asked by a library student, how much did I rely on the Anglo-American Cataloging rules in cataloging? Very rarely was my answer. Among my colleagues, there might be some who rely extensively on this guide, but, perhaps in part because I am in copy cataloging, I don't have much need for it. From my perspective, it is like a dictionary or a grammar book.

What I rely on instead is the OCLC online guide. When I first started cataloging here in 1999, I relied on a large looseleaf binder of materials put out by OCLC, but now, I find the same information by right clicking on a particular field, and then taken to that section of the OCLC website. Of course, OCLC operates within the context of the Anglo-American rules, but does so within the MARC format; the MARC format being numbered fields. Some of the Anglo-American cataloging rules might seem almost inexplicable, if minor, for example why a space before and after the colon separating the title from the subtitle of a book? In any case it is important to follow the exact format, particularly since the catalogued items are created in the form of digital records, which must then be integrated with all the other digital records of the library system.

I find the online OCLC guide to be very helpful and easier to consult than the hardcopy version I once relied upon.

Correction: the OCLC guide is actually titled Bibliographic Formats and Standards. Thank you to Dodie Gaudet.