The Library Catalog
Content taken from Ohio Library Council's orientation website with permission.
The Library Catalog: Where is Everything?
New items appear on the library shelves, in just the right place, with call number labels, bar codes attached, and RFID-tagged, listed in the catalog, ready to snatch from the shelf, check out, read, and return. To users who never actually see this happening, the process is obviously a secret, magic ritual performed by cataloging wizards in the forbidden areas of the library. Who knows what really goes on behind those "staff only" doors?
Like most magic, cataloging is actually a disciplined practice requiring experience, effort, and an understanding of the tools of the trade. GCPLD uses the Dewey Decimal Classification system (DDC) in deciding where an item fits with others like it on the shelves of the library collection. This is good for browsing the shelves and helpful online to blend physical and virtual collections! More details on Classification page.
Tools of the Trade
Classification schemes, such as the DDC, allow libraries to physically arrange books and other library materials together by topic. This helps the users who prefer the adventure and excitement of browsing the shelves instead of giving in and asking for help or using the catalog!
An item can only be in one place on the shelf, even if the item covers more than one subject. It's relatively easy, for example, to browse for and locate materials for children, items on history, or information about science. But what about the user who needs a children's book on the history of science? Using multiple subject headings on a catalog record for an item helps users find items in the catalog by subject or to find a particular item when the title and author are unknown.
For the record
Preparing the library's catalog is a careful process that provides users with an index or inventory of everything the library has to offer. Every item in the library has a record (a listing or entry) in the catalog.
The AACR2 is the book of magic rules that catalogers use so that library records are consistent. This makes it possible to share library records and combine online catalogs in a county, in the state, or worldwide.
Records can be shared electronically because libraries use a consistent machine-readable electronic format (MARC). Electronic or online catalogs are called OPACs (online public access catalogs).
Use your library's catalog to find a few records (catalog entries) for books from the Caldecott Medal Winners 1938- present. You will need to visit the site to get titles, and then look up the titles in your library catalog. Or look for a few books on Colorado history. If all else fails, look for books from your favorite author.
Check it out!
GCPLD started using RFID and self-check stations in 2010. Curious how it works? Worried about confidentiality? Check out news, discussion blogs, and other information about RFID on the ALA website!