The peculiarities of cataloging

At a recent FLIP meeting, this (somewhat) hypothetical question was proposed:

How would you explain the process and purpose of cataloging to someone
who knows nothing about how libraries are organized?

Susan Mitchell, head of the Consortium Library Technical Services Department, gave a really good answer at the meeting (here’s hoping that she’ll share it again in the comments to this post – hint, hint). At about the same time, an email was circulated throughout the library offering kudos for a recently published paper coauthored by three folks here in the building. Coincidentally, the paper details the process and issues of cataloging some very unique library holdings –  specifically, a collection that documents the historical management of Alaska’s commercial fishing industry. The paper is a very interesting and enlightening read, and provides a rare glimpse into the precise process of original cataloging. The paper has been electronically published in the International Association of Aquatic & Marine Science Libraries & Information Centers (IAMSLIC) Conference Proceedings 2008. Here is a direct link to the PDF version:

COMMFISH: all about Alaska’s commercial fisheries collections
Carle, Daria O.; Kazzimir, Edward; Rozen, Celia M.