Statement of Competency 7
Competency 7: Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information such as classification and controlled vocabulary systems, cataloging systems, metadata schemas or other systems for making information accessible to a particular clientele.
One of the Core Values of Librarianship is to make information resources “readily, equally, and equitably accessible to all library users” (ALA, 2004). Cataloging, bibliographic control, metadata, and discovery are essential components of library and information services. They form the basis for information retrieval systems, which allow patrons to access materials. Cataloging and classification demand critical and analytical thinking, imagination, and an awareness of how shared standards help users find, identify, select, and obtain the resources they need.
The community of information professionals agrees on standards that enable us to share the OCLC, a cataloging database used by libraries worldwide. Cataloging rules, encoding formats, and classification and subject headings are all guided by standards that ensure efficiency, service, collaboration, and progress. It is crucial for librarians to be aware of standards that enable participation among the worldwide community of information professionals.
MARC, or “Machine-Readable Cataloging,” is a format for the creation, storage, and exchange of cataloging records. Member information organizations can use OCLC MARC records to catalog their materials (Bolin, 2016, p. 13). RDA, or “Resource Description and Access,” specifies attributes that are used to create a bibliographic record. Included are the descriptive fields of title, edition, publisher, physical description, series, and notes. RDA also contains guidelines for expressing relationships between entities (p. 35). In addition to descriptive cataloging, it is also necessary to specify the subject of the work, or what it is about. Tools for subject cataloging include controlled vocabularies, which express synonyms with one authorized term. Library of Congress Classification (LCC) and Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) are the most commonly used schemes for differentiating items by subject. (p. 87)
The title, author, and subject fields in a bibliographic record are all access points. Information in these fields is standardized into a single form so that it can be brought together into one index term. User searches are directed to the authorized form by making cross references. It is important for information professionals to understand the concept of access points, which are vital in connecting library users to relevant resources. (Bolin, 2016, p. 53)
Due to the exponential increase of electronic information, library and information professionals are continuously developing better and more efficient ways to describe, classify, and link resources. A grounding in the principles of cataloging, which involve “aggregation, discrimination, and disambiguation,” are essential for librarians to evolve and adapt to the changing information environment (Bolin, 2016, p. 122).
The following evidence is submitted to satisfy Competency 7:
- LCC-DDC MARC Record Set, an assignment from INFO 248 Beginning Cataloging and Classification
- Cataloging and classification exercises, class work from INFO 248 Beginning Cataloging and Classification
- School library classification system, a professional tool
INFO 248 LCC-DDC MARC Record Set
This assignment is a set of MARC records that I created for 20 books. I logged into my student account of OCLC’s Connexion software, and created records with a blank workform using the “MARC text” display. My work demonstrates my understanding of the variable fields and how they are used to encode attributes of books. I entered information appropriately, using 3-digit numeric tags, descriptive text, and subfields, or “delimeters.”
Next, I assigned a Dewey Decimal Classification number to each book, and correctly identified its topic. I then chose a Library of Congress Classification number for each book, and determined the breadcrumbs, which show the hierarchy of subject headings belonging to each item. The brief account of my approach and experience describes some issues I encountered, and how I dealt with them.
My work on this assignment is evidence that I have mastered key concepts in cataloging and classification. I am familiar with RDA rules for cataloging, and can read, search, and create MARC records using OCLC’s Connexion software. I can explain the meaning of various descriptive attributes of information objects, and can apply DDC and LCC subject headings.
This piece of evidence is a combination of several assignments. The first is an analysis and comparison of DDC and LCC subject headings for three books. To assign LCC subject headings, I did a keyword search of the Library of Congress’s Classification Web. This resulted in classification numbers with the corresponding subject hierarchy. To find appropriate DDC subject headings, I searched for similar books on OCLC’s Classify, “an experimental classification web service.” The subject headings are a controlled vocabulary system that helps users find information resources. The exercise demonstrates my ability to use online tools for LLC and DDC classification.
The second assignment is an analysis of a MARC authority record. I used OCLC’s Connexion to locate the record for author Kingsley Amis. My analysis of each field, and explanation of its contents show that I can decipher MARC authority records, and am aware of how information retrieval systems use them as access points for information search and discovery.
The Descriptive Cataloging Exercise breaks down and examines the meaning of the various numbered tags and subfields in a MARC record. The exercise is evidence of my understanding of the descriptive elements in a MARC bibliographic record.
The LCSH Exercise presents an example of a Library of Congress Subject Heading record for an Australian water rat, along with an analysis of each field. It demonstrates my understanding of authorized forms of LC subject headings, which are an example of controlled vocabulary, and how they are used as finding aids for users.
The purpose of the Cataloging Exercise was to study the 008 fixed field and the 1xx – 8xx variable fields in MARC bibliographic records. I inspected and compared 50 MARC records of books on opera composers, styles and periods of opera, and opera direction and production. Each field was examined, and my discoveries noted. The exercise is evidence of my knowledge of descriptive cataloging.
Taken together, these exercises demonstrate my understanding and mastery of cataloging standards in library and information science. I am able to decipher the meaning of fields in MARC bibliographic records, as well as create a new MARC bibliographic record according to RDA rules. I understand access points and can identify the authorized form of an authority or subject heading.
Professional tool: School library classification system
I began my first job as a librarian in April 2017 at a private international school in Switzerland. The primary objective of my job, which was dictated by the school principal, was to make the existing library materials accessible to students. I had to make sense of a classification system that was unclear, having been developed and modified by several predecessors.
Since the main library serves students aged 8 to 18, I decided to divide the materials according to reading and maturity level, which I identified by a colored sticker on the binding. Fiction was further separated into genres, with a code marked on the colored sticker. Non-fiction categories were based on Dewey subjects, but adjusted to suit the library materials and the age range of the students. This process was much more complicated than I had anticipated, and involved a fair amount of sweat and dust. The finishing touch was color-coded signage with descriptive emojis corresponding to genres and subject headings.
My new classification system was extremely well-received, especially by English language learners and teachers of English as a foreign language. Guided by the needs of the students, I was able to adapt basic classification principles to a real-world situation. Students are now confident, independent library users. This is an example of using professional standards to organize information in a physical environment.
Assignments from the SJSU MLIS course on Beginning Cataloging and Classification, in addition to my professional experience, furnish evidence of my mastery of Competency 7. I understand official standards for organizing information in physical and virtual environments. I am able to apply these standards in theoretical and real-world contexts to make resources accessible to users of libraries and information retrieval systems.
American Library Association (2004). Core Values of Librarianship. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/corevalues
Bolin, M.K. (2016). Beginning cataloging and classification. Unpublished manuscript, San Jose State University School of Information, San Jose, CA.