Monday, January 24, 2011


This week I have started learning the more technical side of cataloguing.  This is to say what the rest of the world stereotypes to be the librarian's main work. 

I was interested to find out that the kind of cataloguing I do most often in my library is what is called copy cataloguing. According to the Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science (ODLIS) this the practice of adapting a pre-existing bibliographic record to fit the item in hand.  I also learned that rather than referring to an item it is more useful to refer to the material to be catalogued as a package.  This allows one to think of form the item takes and this would be one of the aspects that we catalogue and use to differentiate it from other packages.

I was surprised to discover that the MARC record and Machine Readable Cataloguing standard has been in existence since the 1960s.  This just show how forward looking and up-to-date librarianship has been and continues to be.

The ODLIS is quite the collection of terminology and cataloguing minutia.  It at first looked like one of the driest collection of terms one could ever hope to assemble.  After a little browsing though it turns out to be a cornucopia of obscure but fascinating concepts and terms not just about cataloguing but about the packages themselves that are catalog (I may have inserted my tongue slightly into my cheek here, but there is no denying the usefulness and importance of this resource).  Here are just a couple to whet your appetite:

chiffon silk: A layer of extra-thin but strong silk tissue applied to mend or strengthen a leaf in a book or other document printed on paper.

chi-rho: A monogram consisting of the letters XP, the first two characters of the name for Jesus Christ (chi and rho) in Greek, often used symbol in early Christian art

cinching: A condition that results when loosely wound film is rewound too tightly on a reel, causing the film to move against itself on the roll.  As the film tightens, any dirt or irregularities on its surface will cause fine scratches called cinch marks, angled in the direction of movement.

cocked: A serious binding defect in which the spine of the book is angled or twisted in a way that prevents the boards from line  up evenly with each other.
cockle: A slightly puckered finish produced naturally or artificially as paper shrinks unevenly when dried under little or no tension, as in the production of onionskin.

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