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?