Hmm. I’m starting to understand the state of cataloging a bit better. Reading Autocat today, it dawned on me…
Cataloging is heavily rule-based. You can learn the rules and apply them without glimpsing the underlying reason for each rule. People could conceivably make an entire career out of cataloging without ever taking that step backward to understand the underlying logic, reasoning, and principles of the work.
Yes, this is true of a lot of work. And yes, I am slow sometimes.
Now much of the freaking out that happens every time something changes makes a whole lot more sense.
I may have thought about this more than a lot of people because I have taught intro cataloging for years now, and students always ask, “Why?” My goal as a teacher is to instill in them a sense of the “Why.” I have not always done a good job of helping students understand this, but I aim to get better at it ever semester. Not only will this help them be better catalogers (if they choose or fall into that role), but my hope is it will make for public service and administrative librarians who have a bit more of a sense of why the catalogers do what they do and the value of it.
Well, one can dream anyway.