by AH Trotier · 1953 · Cited by 6 — of Cataloging Processes. ARNOLD H. TROTIER. THE CATALOG department’s primary function is to incorporate books and other materials into a library’s
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Organization and Administration of Cataloging Processes ARNOLD H. TROTIER THE CATALOG department’s primary function is to incorporate books and other materials into a library’s cataloged collections in such a fashion that the reader may readily ascertain what the library’s holdings are and get hold efficiently of the particular item he wants to use. Classifying, shelf-listing, descriptive cataloging, and subject cataloging are the principal processes involved in accomplish- ing this function. Traditionally, in libraries large enough for depart- mentation, these are the minimum duties assigned to a catalog department, although it is frequently made responsible also for certain others more or less closely related to these major functions. Examples are accessioning, physical preparation of books for the shelves, and maintaining location records for books shelved more or less perma- nently in branches, departmental libraries, or other special readers’ service units. Study of the organizational structure of large catalog departments reveals a surprising lack of uniformity even in libraries of a single type which are comparable in size. hloreover, because of the number and diversity of the elements on which organization of cataloging work may be based, the pattern of individual departments is usually com- plex. A casual examination of organization charts shows that among these elements the following are considered to be especially impor- tant: function, subject, language, form or type of material, degree of difficulty of material, and level of treatment to be accorded various categories of material. Theoretically, the organization of work in catalog departments along strictly functional lines seems both natural and logical. Yet few de-partments have set up separate divisions for classifying, descriptive cataloging, and subject cataloging. A stronger preference has been Mr. Trotier is Associate Director for Technical Departments, University of Illinois Library. [264 I

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Organization and Administration of Cataloging Processes shown for a scheme whereby one group does the descriptive catalog- ing and a second the classifying and subject cataloging, the logic for combining the latter two processes being that both require subject analysis. But in most libraries each cataloger performs all three of the basic operations, and the organization patterns in their catalog depart- ments therefore follow other lines. Particularly in libraries where organization of readers’ services by subject fields is emphasized, for example, in public and university li- braries set up on the subject-divisional plan, and in university libraries with college and departmental libraries serving special subject areas, the division of work in catalog departments is likely to be primarily according to subject. The important advantage this kind of organiza- tion holds over one developed along functional lines is that, since it involves most, if not all, of the cataloging staff, a higher degree of sub- ject specialization can be achieved than in a special subject cataloging unit made up of a relatively small number of workers. Although there appears to be no common agreement as to the level in the depart- mental structure where subject specialization should occur, the im- portance of making definite provision for it is increasingly recognized. Not only have library survey reports generally urged the management of cataloging with reference to subject, but reorganization plans of catalog departments indicate that more libraries are accepting the idea. The outstanding example illustrating this trend is the reorganized Preparation Division in the Reference Department of the New York Public Library, which, prior to a survey by a firm of management engineers, had been set up primarily around form of material. The Preparation Division now is divided into a Cataloging Branch and a Preparation Branch. On the recommendation of the surveyors, the Cataloging Branch was organized around subjects rather than forms of material. According to R. E. Kingery,l Chief of the Preparation Division, the recommendation was based on the view “that the catalog- ing job is a whole job of planning approaches between a piece of material and its potential users, that the job should not be broken up as it had been on the basis of subject analysis vs, description, and that the significant differences among materials, in terms of use, lie in differences in subject and not differences of form.” In line with this theory, Kingery reports, catalogers now handle materials within a subject area “regardless of form of material, and . . . do the whole [265 1

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ARNOLD H. TROTIER job of catalog planning for that material, including subject analysis and description.” Libraries acquiring much material in foreign languages must have on their staffs catalogers with a knowledge of these languages. Some catalog departments set up special units to handle all foreign publica- tions. Both the Chicago Public Library and the Los Angeles Public Library have such units in their catalog departments, and the Descrip- tive Cataloging Division of the Library of Congress contains a Foreign Language Section and a Slavic Language Section. Although in the cataloging of foreign materials language facility is more useful than subject specialization, in the catalog departments of university libraries the formal unit for cataloging all foreign lan- guage publications is the exception rather than the rule. The explana- tion may be that in these libraries, where increasing emphasis is given to subject specialization, catalogers generally have a working knowl- edge of two or more of the principal foreign languages and so can handle the bulk of such material without particular difficulty. More- over, they may go to a language specialist of the department for assistance whenever necessary. The cataloging of most materials in the minor or dead languages, however, is usually assigned to catalogers with the special language facilities required. With respect to form or type of library materials, the organizational structure of catalog departments most commonly includes a special unit for the cataloging of serials. The fact that in the larger depart- ments the serial cataloging section is commonly one of the principal units is due both to the phenomenal growth in importance and mass of serial publications, and to realization that the physical and biblio- graphical peculiarities of serials make specialization with them sound administrative practice. The use of the degree of difficulty of material as an element in de- termining basic organization of cataloging work is excellently demon- strated by the reorganization some years ago of the catalog department of the Harvard College Library. In this department, Susan M. Has-kins reports, the staff was organized into two major groups. One handles material which can move along rapidly, such as titles for which Library of Congress cards are available, nonfiction which presents no special difficulties, other editions, second copies, and books which are to be sent directly to the New England Depository Library. The other group catalogs the more difficult material involving research [266 1

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Organization and Administration of Cataloging Proce~ses problems, unusual languages, and so forth. The second group only is organized along the traditional lines of subject and language. Manifestly the many and varied publications which flow into li- braries are not all equal in value or importance, and therefore need not all receive equal treatment. Hence the level of treatment to be ac- corded certain categories of library materials is an additional element influencing the organizational patterns of catalog departments. For example, a special unit may be made responsible for the processing of pamphlets and similar ephemera, and another for the cataloging of rare books and manuscripts. The developing trend for applying brief or limited cataloging techniques to older and less important publica- tions has resulted in the creation in some catalog departments of special units to handle such materials. Traditionally, much importance has been attached in libraries to the value of accuracy and consistency in cataloging records. To attain these twin objectives, it has been the policy in many catalog depart- ments to revise in detail the work of even experienced catalogers. Approaching their work conscientiously, the catalog revisers spent much time covering the same ground as the cataloger and correcting minor errors which might have been rectified more cheaply by proof- readers. Forced by the economic exigencies of the times to scrutinize the effects of these practices on cataloging costs and the flow of ma- terial through the department, library administrators came to the conclusion that, all things considered, the premium they were paying for accuracy and consistency was too high and that, in the interests of economy and efficiency, a major shift in emphasis was necessary. This has been accomplished in many catalog departments, (1)by de- pending on proofreaders to discover and correct minor errors, (2) by revising closely only the work of the less experienced personnel, (3) by letting catalogers take the initiative in consulting revisers when their help was needed and in this way placing more responsibility for good work on those doing the original cataloging, and (4) by limiting such over-all revision as remains necessary to a quick examination of entries, classification, and subject headings. This policy has been fol- lowed for some years in the Catalog Department of the University of Illinois Library, and is very similar to the scheme advanced by the surveyors of the Los Angeles Public Library in conjunction with their proposal for the reorganization of the catalogers into subject units under the supervision of senior cataloger^.^ Administrators of catalog departments have long recognized the [2671

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ARNOLD H. TROTIER importance of differentiating clearly between professional and clerical duties for the purposes of efficient management. However, despite the increasing attention given in libraries to job analysis and position classification, the evidence shows that in many catalog departments the lines between professional and clerical processes have not yet been sharply drawn. Obviously, where this has not been done, all at- tempts to arrive at defensible ratios of professional to clerical person- nel must rest on guesswork. Some notion of the size and nature of this problem may be gained from the data presented in the 1951survey of personnel in catalog de- partments in public libraries which was conducted by a committee of the American Library Association Division of Cataloging and Classi- fi~ation.~According to the answers supplied by 108 libraries, only two of the duties defined as professional were not also performed by non- professional workers, and 5 per cent of all duties listed as professional were also performed by nonprofessional personnel. An analysis of the staff involved in the performance of nonprofessional duties in the cata- log departments of 110 public libraries revealed that all nonprofessional operations were carried on by both groups; further, 26 per cent of the answers from these libraries indicated that nonprofessional duties were performed by professional catalogers. The conclusion that pro- fessional personnel is often wastefully employed in catalog depart- ments is rather obvious. Evidence produced by the survey showing that large libraries experience least difficulty in separating clerical from professional duties is scarcely surprising. Despite the somewhat discouraging picture drawn by these facts, there is considerable evi- dence in library survey reports, as well as in the published accounts describing reorganization of work in individual catalog departments, to indicate that much real progress has been achieved in the past decade in differentiating professional and clerical duties and in making use of clerical personnel for cataloging operations not requiring pro- fessional training. The accessioning of books is not regarded by all librarians as a logical function of the catalog department. Actually, in many libraries it is performed in the order department or in a special unit. The formal register of accessions, for so many years looked upon as a basic and essential record for any properly managed library, appears to be on the way out. In fact, quite a few libraries have abandoned both the accession book and the use of accession numbers in the individual books. Others have decided on one of several possible compromises, 12681

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Organization and Administration of Cataloging Processes such as (1)adapting other library records, e.g., bills, lists, order cards, or shelf-list cards, to serve the purposes of a standard accession record, or (2) continuing the stamping of accession numbers in the books themselves, thereby preserving their value as a means for positive identification of particular volumes or copies, but without listing books in an accession register nor noting their accession numbers on shelf- list cards. That simplification of accession records and procedures, if not their complete elimination, is a growing trend in libraries, is sug- gested by the fact that nearly all library surveys have recommended it wherever the surveyors encountered the traditional accession records. The taking of inventory of the library’s book stock by the circulation department and other readers’ service units can readily be defended on the ground that they have a custodial responsibility for the books shelved in their departments. However, in many libraries this duty is delegated to the catalog department, presumably because it makes and maintains the shelf list and catalog and often keeps the accession record, and therefore should withdraw the notations of items estab- lished as lost in the inventory process. Moreover, it may be reasoned, the catalog department is the logical department to correct any errors or discrepancies that may be discovered in the course of inventory. Particularly in very large libraries, the trend is away from complete periodic inventories, for the simple reason that they no longer can be afforded. In some such libraries formal checking is attempted only in reference and reading rooms and for departmental collections. Larger libraries which have not abandoned the taking of inventories of their central collections, tend to carry them out at longer intervals, rather than annually, or to assign relatively small staffs to carry them on continuously. One of the most significant recent developments in American li- brarianship has been the grouping in numerous individual libraries of all services in two divisions, viz., technical services and readers’ serv- ices. The underlying administrative philosophy aims primarily at re- ducing the span of control of the top administrator and promoting effective oversight, coordination, and integration of the various serv- ices carried on in the organizational units brought together by the change. The services commonly regarded as technical include acqui- sitions, cataloging, binding, and photographic reproduction, and the act whereby they are placed in a single large division recognizes the close relationship of their individual functions and the operations in- volved in performing them. [2691

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Organization and Administration of Cataloging Proce~sses binding department, on the other hand, can assist the work of the catalog department by routing to it all newly bound serial volumes which need to be recorded on catalog records, and by identifying bound and rebound volumes which must be routed to special loca- tions in the library system. All readers’ services units, both centralized and decentralized, are aided immeasurably in their services to readers by the records pre- pared and maintained by the catalog department. Hence it is axio- matic that cataloging policies and methods must be related effectively to the needs of readers’ services. Public service departments stress a number of special ways in which catalog departments can be of help in achieving high standards of service to readers. They urge that cataloging be done expeditiously, that “rush” items be given special priority, and that temporary cards for new books be filed in the public catalog to serve until the perma- nent sets are filed. They ask that catalog records for items withdrawn or lost, and not to be replaced, be canceled soon, and that errors or dis- crepancies in catalog records when reported to catalogers receive early attention. If a book is reclassified they want to know, when it is re- turned, under what number it was charged out. They ask sympathetic consideration for their suggestions for improving the catalogs. Cata- logers, among other things, want prompt cooperation when they must recall items for recataloging; and, when books are transferred from one part of the system to another, they want to be notified so that they can make the necessary changes in catalog and shelf-list records. Effective coordination between the catalog department and other departments can be especially fruitful in simplifying some records and eliminating the duplication of others. A central serials record may make unnecessary the recording of serials in the public catalog; or the checking records of current serials may supplement the information provided for these publications in the catalog. The “orders-received” file, or a combined “orders outstanding-current receipts” file, main- tained by the acquisitions department, if conveniently located with respect to both departments, will obviate the need for an “in-process” file in the catalog department. The branch libraries of public library systems almost universally have been set up by their central libraries, whereas the departmental libraries of college and university libraries have been started in many instances by academic departments independently of the general library. Centralization of cataloging in public library systems has, for

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ARNOLD H. TROTIER this reason, been the general rule; while centralization of cataloging in colleges and universities has been achieved generally only as the de- partmental libraries were drawn into a centrally administered library system. In the large public library system, where multiple copies of many new books are distributed simultaneously to the branches, the policy of centralizing cataloging has apparently met little opposition. In uni- versity libraries, on the other hand, there has often been strong resist- ance to it. The chief argument by the proponents of decentralized cata- loging has been that work done in the departmental libraries would meet better the needs of the clientele. Since the cataloging would be performed by those most familiar with the subject fields involved, they have maintained, the classifying and subject cataloging especially would prove more satisfactory than if it were carried out in a gen- eral catalog department. Furthermore, they have supposed that their books would reach the shelves sooner if processed in the departmental library. The principal arguments on the other side were: ( 1)a union catalog recording the library’s total resources could be maintained most satis- factorily through a system of centralized cataloging, (2) standardiza-tion of the various catalogs in the library system, best attained through centralization of cataloging processes, would facilitate both their use by readers and the interchange of library materials between depart- mental libraries and the central bookstacks, (3) uniform and compe- tent classifying and subject analysis of books could be achieved by promoting subject specialization in the general catalog department, and (4) centralization would promote over-all efficiency and economy. G. A. Works put the case for centralized cataloging succinctly when he wrote more than a quarter of a century ago that cataloging illustrates well a type of library work in which there is a distinct advantage in centralization. “It makes for economy and a good quality of work to have all persons doing cataloging organized in one group so as to give the largest opportunity for differentiation and specializa- tion.” Almost without exception library surveys of the past decade or so have recommended centralization of cataloging wherever they found that it was not already the established policy. This, or at least the creation of a union catalog in the general library, they have urged even where for special local reasons it was not feasible to bring all departmental and college libraries under the administrative control of the general library.

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Organization and Administration of Cataloging Procelsses The problems of centralization of cataloging is not confined, it must be pointed out, to the relations between a central library and its branches or departmental libraries. Occasionally the cataloging opera- tions carried on in the central or main library are scattered among several independent units. Carleton Joeckel and Leon Carnovsky, for example, in their study of cataloging operations in the Chicago Public Library in 1940, discovered that cataloging was being done in five essentially autonomous units6 They strongly urged unification of this work in a single department, and supported their recommendation with the argument that the change would “insure standardization and uni- formity of procedures, would permit the efficient organization of pro- fessional and clerical personnel, would make possible the economical duplication of cards for the catalogs and shelf-lists, and would prob- ably result in a more even distribution of work throughout the year.” 7 The appearance of the storage library, a very recent development, has raised a variety of new problems for both the storage centers and their parent institutions. H. H. Fussler has defined three types of storage libraries: “(1) a storage depot for the deposit of books from a single library, or library system; (2) a cooperatively owned and oper- ated building in which the cooperating institutions may rent space for the separate deposit of their own materials; and (3) a coopera- tively owned and operated library in which the deposited materials are available to and shared by all member institutions.” Certain ad- ministrative problems of storage libraries are common to all three varieties; but each type has some questions peculiar to itself, among which is that of cataloging policy. When a library like the Iowa State College Library builds a special structure to provide economical space for little-used materials for which there is no room in the main library, the storage building may be regarded as a simple extension of the central bookstacks. A record in it of what is shelved there may be useful, but not essential; and in the main library it is necessary only to indicate which of its books are shelved in the annex. This may be done by appropriate notation on catalog and shelf-list cards, or by whatever method the main library indicates location of particular books in its departmental libraries. At first glance it would appear that a similar scheme would serve satisfactorily the needs, in this respect, of a storage library of the second variety, the prototype of which is the New England Deposit Library. Actually, the cataloging plans for the materials stored in the New England Deposit Library are a little more elaboratesg The original [273 1

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ARNOLD H. TROTIER proposal, requiring each participating library to supply, for each title deposited, a main entry card for the Deposit’s union catalog was soon abandoned, and only half of the parent libraries continue to furnish cards for this file. A newspaper catalog, comprising four different indexes, is main- tained at the storage library, and there is also a complete shelf list of the newspapers of the Boston Public Library and the Harvard College Library. Largely to avoid the additional expense, but also because Harvard did not make shelf cards even for its own use in the case of new acquisitions placed in storage, the Deposit Library dropped plans for a general shelf list representing the materials housed there. Harvard, the only cooperating library which sends new acquisitions to the Deposit Library in quantity, has adopted a special cataloging policy for these books. Presupposing that there would be few calls for them, and that therefore the expense of standard cataloging was not justified, Harvard decided to apply simplified cataloging. Also, keep- ing in mind that grouping of books by size and shelving by fixed loca- tion was the basis for storing these materials in the Deposit Library, Harvard decided to save the expense of the usual subject classification in the case of these new acquisitions by simply classifying them ac- cording to size and then numbering them serially. The institution which comes closest to fitting Fussler’s definition of the third type is the Midwest Inter-Library Center. The scope of its function is broader than mere storage, however, since it is charged also with acquiring additional research materials directly, by purchase or gift. Furthermore, excepting only the small deposits stored on a rental basis, all materials housed in the Center are available for use by the member institutions. For these and other reasons, the Center has had to face entirely new problems in organizing and recording its hold- ings and supplying essential information regarding its resources to member libraries. The general cataloging and classification plans developed by the Center were described in 1951 by its director, Ralph T. Esterquest,lo who was quick to point out that they are “subject to revision . . . in the light of experience.” According to Esterquest, fixed location and size-shelving will be the general rule and, for this purpose, six size classifications have been established. Examples of exceptions are: (1)state documents, arranged by state and issuing agency, (2) for- eign dissertations, alphabeted by author, (3) old textbooks, disposed [274 1

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