Unit 9: Cataloging

This week’s blog discussion is about cataloging. I admit, cataloging is not something that I find incredibly appealing. As I mentioned in this week’s discussion, there are a lot of issues inherent to judging, placing, and describing anything, as well as deciding where it fits in a larger collection, and it’s very hard for the person creating a single record to have enough perspective to make it fit into the big picture, or be the right choice in hindsight. For example, early on in this class, we read Clay Shirky’s famous essay, Ontology is Overrated. It discussed the perils of classification, and gave an example of the religious bias inherent in the Dewey’s system, in which Christianity dominates nearly the entire section, leaving a few meager subheadings for “Other religions”:

Dewey, 200: Religion

210 Natural theology
220 Bible
230 Christian theology
240 Christian moral & devotional theology
250 Christian orders & local church
260 Christian social theology
270 Christian church history
280 Christian sects & denominations
290 Other religions

Another example that a coworker gave me was of a colleague who looked up “interrracial” in the LCSH and was disturbed to find out which sections were next to it: incest and insanity.

So, bringing this post back to my collection, I have felt quite tentative and experimental in my categorization of my small collection. After trying LC for this week’s EPrints assignment, I rather wish I’d picked out LCSH terms all along, instead of using rather vague DC. On the other hand, outside the library world, LC is less meaningful, so perhaps from an interoperability standpoint, DC is better, it’s just a question of more complete and more accurate DC metadata?



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