Thursday, August 27, 2009

Catalogers make things findable by non-psychics

Wow, it's been a while since I've written a post.

Anyway, I recently got a reminder of why catalogers are so concerned about making sure library holdings are attached to records that accurately reflect the titles the library holds. It seems like a no-brainer, but, sometimes, when there's lots to do, it's very tempting to take the easy way out and just put everything on one record. The problem is, if you're not careful, you've just made something impossible to find by anyone but a psychic.

I'm not a psychic. Most of the library's users aren't psychics. With today's example, the best I could do was find something that might be what the person wanted and then hope that I was right or that whatever it is the person really wanted was somewhere nearby. I got lucky, and the information the person really wanted was only a few books away from the possibly useful one I pointed her to. The thing that baffled me was that the title of the book she pulled off the shelf should have made it incredibly easy to find. I later found out that these items had been added to the record of a related title. I've since done a "band-aid" solution that will take care of the problem for now (I love the 246 and 740 fields!), but it's been added to my list of things that need fixing. Still, I can't help but wonder how many other things like this there are out there. Unfortunately, I won't know about them unless I either stumble upon them or someone else tells me about them.

Oh, and one last thing - I love talking to new students when I'm at the reference desk and things are fairly quiet. Today I got to talk about all the great things we've got (books that support research and courses are obvious, but not everyone knows we have audiobooks, popular fiction, CDs, DVDs, and more, with ILL available for anything we don't have) with a student who was actually interested. It made me so happy!