Cataloging Personnel, Education, and Training, 1994–1998

Over the past three years, discussion of and writing on the preparation, training, and continuing education needs of catalog librarians have been intense. To further advance the present dialogue beyond “hot topic” toward fact-finding and problem-solving, further research is sorely needed. This brief essay summarizes the work done on this topic from 1995 to 1998 and suggests some questions for future study.

Many authors (Copeland 1997, Hill 1997, Jeng 1997, MacLeod and Callahan 1995, Meyer 1997, Vellucci 1997a) have examined the pronounced trend toward a role for catalog librarians that extends well beyond traditional cataloging. With the new role comes rising expectations for not only “soft” skills like management and training ability, leadership, communication skills, a service orientation, group process skills, and talent for creative problem-solving, but also “hard” skills like a knowledge of research methods and technical savvy with local systems, expert systems, the Internet, PCs and computing (especially with respect to the cataloger’s workstation), and metadata standards. The ALCTS Committee on Education, Training and Recruitment for Cataloging has hosted a number of well-attended meetings (Lesher 1997, Steinhagen 1995, Thompson 1998) to help catalogers and cataloging managers cope with these changes in expectations. The OCLC Institute’s seminar “Knowledge Access Management Tools and Concepts for Next-Generation Catalogers” (Chepesiuk 1998) has played a similar role.

Two lists of competencies have significantly influenced writing and research on the topic of cataloger education in recent years. The first, “Skills and Expectations of a Catalog Librarian,” appeared with the report of the task group on cataloger training for the Cooperative Cataloging Council (1994). The second, “Knowledge and Skills,” appeared with the ALCTS Educational Policy Statement (1995). An examination of the two lists leaves no doubt that the traditional core competencies of cataloging—the ability to catalog monographs and serials; an understanding of authority control; and knowledge of the bibliographic utilities and the cataloging modules of local systems, Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd Edition, the Library of Congress Rule Interpretations (LCRI) and subject cataloging manuals, United States Machine Readable Cataloging (USMARC), Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), and Library of Congress (LC) or Dewey classification—have become a subset of what is expected of the catalog librarian today.

The shift toward a larger role for catalog librarians is the principal theme of recent research on cataloging, but there are several other related themes:

  • the impact of electronic resources and the digital revolution on what a cataloger needs to know and be able to do (Pitti 1995, Reynolds 1995, Tennant 1998, Vellucci 1997b, Younger 1997)
  • the potential for computer-assisted and/or networked training for cataloging (Hyland, Mortimer, and Higgins 1997; Geer 1996; Weiss 1995)
  • new frontiers in subject analysis (Williamson 1997)
  • the use of non-traditional staff for original cataloging and classification (El-Sherbini and Klim 1997; Mohr and Schuneman 1997; Younger 1996)
  • cross-training of catalogers (Whiting 1998, Duchin 1997, Xu 1996)
  • the organization of cataloging personnel, particularly as teams (Clack 1995)
  • new kinds of cataloging jobs—e.g., telecommuting (Black and Hyslop 1995)

The following list provides some potential questions for future research on cataloging personnel, education, and training. An evaluation of the articles cited in this brief essay may lead to many more ideas.

1. Changing Role of the Catalog Librarian
Has the market for catalog librarians changed in response to new expectations on the job? If so, how has it changed? (Such a study might be undertaken by analyzing library staffing statistics, library organizational charts or staffing patterns, job titles, job ads, etc.; possibly follow studies to Xu 1996 or Copeland 1997)

2. New Competencies
Are practicing catalog librarians developing the knowledge and skills in the Cataloging and Classification Section and ALCTS lists? Have they redefined or broadened their role with respect to their libraries’ missions? What has been the impact of the ALCTS/Program for Cooperative Cataloging “Cataloging Now!” institutes, what other programs are needed, and how should they be designed? How are catalog librarians inserting themselves in systems design and in the creation of the digital library—what difference does the involvement make in the end product? How fully are they integrating technology into their work? How might the profession accomplish the needed changes? What technical training is needed? (Case studies might be appropriate; another possible research model is provided by University of California, Berkeley’s Institute on Digital Library Development; see Hastings and Tennant 1996.)

3. Entry-Level Catalog Librarians
How are library schools preparing entry-level catalogers? How are students being prepared to be the subject analysts of the future? (For example, follow-up studies to Vellucci 1997a, MacLeod and Callahan 1995, Hill 1997, Williamson 1997)

4. New Training Methods
What is the level of interest in computer-assisted and networked packages for training catalogers? How well do they work and how do such packages compare to traditional training approaches? What is the relationship to courses provided by library schools, regional networks, and institutes for continuing education?

Works Cited

ALA. Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. 1995. ALCTS Educational Policy Statement. (Accessed January 24, 1999)

Black, Leah, and Colleen F. Hyslop. 1995. Telecommuting for original cataloging at the Michigan State University Libraries. College & Research Libraries 56 (July): 319–25.

Chepesiuk, Ronald. 1998. Going the distance to learn globally: The OCLC Institute. American Libraries 29 (October): 64–65.

Clack, Mary Elizabeth. 1995. The role of training in the reorganization of cataloging services. Library Acquisitions 19 (winter): 439–44.

Cooperative Cataloging Council, Task Group 5 - Cataloger Training. 1994. Final report. In Toward a new beginning in cooperative cataloging: The history, progress and future of the Cooperative Cataloging Council (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress), 61–70.

Copeland, Ann W. 1997. The demand for serials catalogers: An analysis of job advertisements, 1980-1995. Serials Librarian 32, no 1/2: 27–37.

Duchin, Douglas. 1997. Moving right along: changes in staffing, functions, workstation setup, and personnel. Library Resources & Technical Services 41, no. 2: 139–42.

El-Sherbini, Magda, and George Klim. 1997. Changes in technical services and their effect on the role of catalogers and staff education: an overview. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 24, no. 1/2: 23–33.

Geer, Beverley. 1996. Training aid in cataloging gopher sites and electronic serials (workshop report from 1995 NASIG conference). Serials Librarian 28, no. 3/4: 337–42.

Hastings, Kirk, and Roy Tennant. 1996. How to build a digital librarian. D-Lib Magazine (November). (Accessed January 24, 1999)

Hill, Debra W. 1997. Requisite skills of the entry-level cataloger: A supervisor’s perspective. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 23, no. 3/4: 75–83.

Hyland, Margaret, Mary Mortimer, and Neville Higgins. 1997. The development of CatSkill and its potential for training in libraries. Serials Librarian 32, no. 3/4: 107–15.

Jeng, Ling Hwey. 1997. Knowledge, technology and research in cataloging. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 24, no. 1/2: 113–27.

Lesher, Marcella C. 1997. Embracing the technological future: Technical services professionals and the emerging environment. Program sponsored by the ALCTS Committee on Education, Trainin, and Recruitment for Cataloging. Library Acquisitions 21, no. 4: 502–03.

MacLeod, Judy, and Daren J. Callahan. 1995. Educators and practitioners reply: An assessment of cataloging education. Library Resources & Technical Services 39 (April): 153–65.

Meyer, Richard W. 1997. The cataloger’s future: A director’s view. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 24, no. 1/2: 195–204.

Mohr, Deborah A,. and Anita P. Schuneman. 1997. Changing roles: Original cataloging by paraprofessionals in ARL libraries. Library Resources & Technical Services 41 (July): 205–18.

Pitti, Daniel V. 1995. Standard Generalized Markup Language and the transformation of cataloging. Serials Librarian 35, no. 3/4: 243–53.

Reynolds, Regina. 1995. Tools for a new age: An overview. Serials Librarian 35, no. 3/4: 223–33.

Steinhagen, Elizabeth N. 1995. ALCTS-CCS Heads of Cataloging Discussion Group met jointly with the ALCTS-CCS Committee on Education, Training, and Recruitment of Catalogers at the 1995 Midwinter Meeting. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 21, no. 1: 111–13.

Tennant, Roy. 1998. 21 st-century cataloging. Library Journal 123, no. 7: 30–31.

Thompson, Christine E. 1998. ALCTS Cataloging and Classification Section Committee on Education, Recruitment, and Training for Cataloging program meeting, ALA Conference, New York, July 1996. Technical Services Quarterly 15, no. 3: 73–75.

Vellucci, Sherry L. 1997a. Cataloging across the curriculum: A syndetic structure for teaching cataloging. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 24, no. 1/2: 35–59.

Vellucci, Sherry L. 1997b. Options for organizing electronic resources: The coexistence of metadata. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science 24, no. 1: 14–17.

Weiss, Paul J. 1995. Getting the expert into the system: Expert systems and cataloging. Serials Librarian 25, no. 3/4: 235–41.

Whiting, Peter C. 1998. From specialists to generalists: Issues and perspectives on cross-training catalogers. Serials Librarian 34, no. 3/4: 397–402.

Williamson, Nancy Joyce. 1997. The importance of subject analysis in library and information science education. Technical Services Quarterly 15, no. 1/2: 67–87.

Xu, Hong. 1996. The impact of automation on job requirements and qualifications for catalogers and reference librarians in academic libraries. Library Resources & Technical Services 40, no. 1: 9–31.

Younger, Jennifer. 1996. Support staff and librarians in cataloging. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 23, no. 1: 27–47.

Younger, Jennifer. 1997. Resources description in the digital age. Library Trends 25 (winter): 462–87.

Prepared by Karen Calhoun, Head, Cataloging, Central Technical Services, Cornell University,