In this essay I will be looking at cataloguing, how it is perceived and its current relevance with the rise of new technologies. The framework of cataloguing and how it is used can be transposed to the organisation principles that are part of the foundation of libraries function. The changing information world has impacted upon how cataloguing is performed and has resulted in new standards being developed to make it easier for the end user. There is recognition of the cataloguers’ skills and their ability to organise the new metadata environment.
Cataloguing has been in existence since the time of Callimachus around 240 BC (Read 2003, p. 5) and has evolved to organise data from book form to card catalogue to electronic catalogue to online public access catalogue (OPAC). Most peoples understanding of cataloguing is that it is the listing or description of items within a collection and where to find them. Danskin (2007, p. 207), however, prefers to think of cataloguing as more than the mere description of information but rather the contextualisation of the resource. The resource context derived from the catalogue is helps makes it more useful than just an index.
Read (2003, p. 3) claims that cataloguing is more important in today’s information environment than ever before, as there is so much knowledge available yet it needs to be accessible in a way that is beneficial to the user. When Marcum (2006, p. 5) reveals the annual amount of $44 million devoted to cataloguing by the Library of Congress it gives an idea of how important it is considered. Given that so much has gone into cataloguing it would be hasty to disregard the knowledge and history that it has developed.
Machine Readable Cataloguing (MARC) is still the main basis for OPACs some 50 years after it was first introduced and as a tool has not lost its functionality. There has been a response by OPAC vendors to the strength of online search engines such as Google by...