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November 16, 2012 / playforth

Cataloguing crises, MARC mysteries and social solutions

I’m a fairly experienced cataloguer but due to the specialist libraries and systems I’ve worked with, I’m still relatively new to MARC. I also catalogue everything from scratch, including some pretty awkward grey literature items, often produced in Africa and often in French. So I often have questions – blind spots and niggles where I need a second opinion, and my first port of call tends to be the Twitter hivemind. Twitter can provide quick answers, but more importantly I know from experience that the librarians and cataloguers who follow me there won’t be judgemental or sarcastic, and will always be generous with their insight and advice. It seems that lately lots of people are becoming disillusioned with Twitter and/or having toxic encounters there, but not me – whether I’ve been lucky or whether librarians are just a self-selectingly helpful group, I don’t know.

Lately I’ve been saving my niggles for #fiddlyfriday, a loose swap shop for problem cataloguing (dreamt up with @cjclib, @kmlclifford and @stjerome1st) that is a diverting window into the bizarre items lurking at the bottom of other people’s cataloguing piles. Today’s #fiddlyfriday was about more than just sharing the pain though, as I had specific questions about a dual language publication from Kenya:

This is niche stuff even by the standards of the library profession (and feel free to stop reading) but I do think that the fast, helpful and interesting responses I received provide a perfect (if microcosmic) example of an engaged professional community using social media to share knowledge and build capacity in the profession:

Thanks everyone quoted above who took the time to help today!


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