Learning how to catalogue a resource and create a bibliographic record requires a different approach to books. It’s not about reading for pleasure but instead it is about achieving a familiarity with books in order to locate the information needed and get to know the book as an information resource – whether fiction or non-fiction – so that the required elements that form the bibliographic record can be assembled efficiently.
As a cataloguer, it takes training to recognise elements and assemble them together quickly. Books have certain characteristics that are brought together to create a cataloguing record, and this takes practice. Approaching a book in this way helps the process to happen quickly and the key pieces of information are gathered together. The advantage of reading a book in such a way is that you can quickly determine what the book is about and can pass this information on to library users (Phillips, 1990).
There are many rules to learn associated with this process – even more for school libraries. Cataloguing for schools incorporates knowledge of RDA as well as the guidelines and rules developed by the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS). These rules dictate where certain information is sourced, how that information is represented, punctuation and capitalisation requirements, subject headings and other access points etc. There is a controlled vocabulary to support this process and achieve a cataloguing standard that assists users. SCIS provides authority files and subject headings to assist library users to navigate their way efficiently to particular resources.
There is much to learn in order to maximise the potential of the library management system and help borrowers to find resources quickly. They too have much to learn.
Phillips, E. (1990) Documentation made easy. [online] Available at: http://bit.ly/505easy