Organization of Cataloguing Department

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1. Introduction

2. Cataloguing Department

2.1 Definition

2.2 Location and Physical conditions

2.3 Cataloguing tools and equipments

2.4 Staffing

2.4.1 Qualities of cataloguers

2.4.2 Duty Hours

2.4.3 Seating arrangement of staff

2.5Procedure of Cataloguing Department

2.6 Work Flow in Cataloguing Department

2.7 Maintenance of Statistics

2.8 Catalogue maintenance and revision

2.9 Relation with other sections of library

2.9.1 Order section

2.9.2 Reference section

2.9.3 Circulation section

2.9.4 Departmental or Branch libraries

3. Questions

4. Further Readings

 

1. Introduction

 

Books are the real blood of a library. If one fails to circulate them in time, the library becomes paralyzed when the blood circulation stops. To provide high quality service to users, the library is divided into many sections or departments as Book Selection, Classification Circulation, Reference service etc. Cataloguing section or Department is one of them.

 

2.Cataloguing Department

 

Most librarians recognize that an effective organization of technical service is essential, if the library is to provide its users with high quality service. Though most of the tasks done in the library for the users service are technical, yet the work of cataloguing department of library is considered highly technical. The quality of a library catalogue with greatly depend upon proper organization of a cataloguing department.

 

2.1 Definition of Cataloguing Department

 

Various authorities of cataloguing have defined the cataloguing department as follows:

 

According to Harrod’s Librarians’ Glossary ‘The department of a library which deals with the cataloguing and classification of stock, and can include processing, i.e. preparation for issue to library users. Where there is no order department, the work relating to acquisition is also undertaken here.

 

According to A.L.A. Glossary or library terms ‘The administrative unit of a library incharge of preparing the catalogue, and in many libraries of classifying the books.’ The primary function of a cataloguing department is to prepare catalogue of all the reading material incorporating bibliographical details to satisfy all the sought approaches of the users.

 

The cataloguing department is mainly responsible for cataloguing all books, bound periodicals etc acquired by the library and make all necessary card records for shelf list and public catalogue. The task of this department primarily includes classifying, shelf listing, descriptive cataloguing, subject cataloguing, duplicating catalogue cards and withdrawals, maintenance including revision of existing entries and arrangement and filling of catalogue cards. In Indian libraries cataloguing and classification are handled by separate departments.

 

2.2 Location and Physical Conditions

 

For the success of a cataloguing department the most important consideration is its location. The work of cataloguing department is ultimately concerned with that of a book order, accession, reference and lending departments. Constant inter-communication with these departments and a reference to public catalogue, where there is no separate catalogue for the staff, makes is essential to plan the location of the cataloguing department at a convenient place, so as to effect economy in time and labour of the staff. As this department plays a vital role in rendering technical services, is proximity with circulation, reference, book-order and accessioning sections is highly desirable. It should be on the ground floor of the library.

It should contain atleast two sections-one for the classifier and his assistants and another for the cataloguer and his assistants. These should be so adjusted that the classifier should have a reasonable distance from the catalogue typists. As the work of classification is a high quality mental process it should be away from the constant noise of the typewriters/computer typists.

 

The physical conditions of a cataloguing department should be quite suitable to its working. Crowded and noisy cataloguing rooms are usually not very productive. Approximately every person needs to be provided with 100 sq. feet of floor space. Liberal planning and provision result in avoiding congestion and overcrowding as the library grows. Besides, location and space, the department should have good natural and artificial lighting arrangement. Good lighting plays dividends in increased production. Artificial light should be perfectly white light without glare.

 

Necessary furniture should be provided to the staff. It must be adjustable in height. It must be cozy, comfortable and suited to the requirements of an individual worker. Good furniture less the strain and fatigue of the cataloguing staff. Enough space should be provided for desks, chairs, book trunks and shelves for the catalogue. There should also be proper space for housing the processed material and for equipments.

 

The daily working of a cataloguing staff demands some authoritative reference tools for consultation. These are of the following type:

 

1. Catalogue codes.

2. Catalogues of important libraries.

3. Classification schedules

4. Approved lists of subject headings.

5. Standard dictionaries of subjects and languages.

6. Biographical dictionaries.

7. Encyclopedias

8. Up-to-date subject bibliographies

9. Who’s who of various countries

10. Authority list

11. Catalogue cards

12. Type machines, Duplicating machine

13. Dictionaries of anonyms and pseudonyms.

14. The Cataloguing Staff Manual.

 

The above mentioned tools are a necessity for the cataloguers library. It is impossible for him to carry out his work without access to these. Besides these tools, some other reference tools may also be needed by the cataloguer. His proximity with the reference library is desirable. The most important of all these tools is the catalogue. A constant use of the catalogue to check up duplication of entries and to maintain consistency in cataloguing work is essential. It is such an important tool which is generally referred to by the cataloguing typists, classifiers, numberer and filer.

 

2.4 Staffing

 

Good work demands good staff. Therefore for timely and efficient working of a cataloguing department of a library, it should be well staffed. There should be three categories of staff i.e. Professional, Semi-professional and non-professional. The work of a cataloguer and assistants is purely professional, the status of professional workers and their salary scales should approximate to the work assigned to them. Routine or clerical works like pasting, numbering, arranging the books in order, transferring the books to various service departments of the library may, however be assigned to non-professional workers, whose salary may be less that those of professional staff.

 

2.4.1  Qualities of Cataloguer

 

As the work of cataloguing department calls for accuracy, uniformity and consistency, the cataloguer should be well qualified professionally and academically. He should possess the following qualities:-

 

1. Scholar, organizer, ardent and patient worker.

2. University degree holder.

3. Professional degree holder i.e. B. Lib., M. Lib. etc.

4. Should know regional/foreign languages.

5. Update knowledge of a cataloguing practices and codes.

6. Good library hand.

7. Good memory.

8. Experience of reference department.

9. Knowledge of other departments of library.

10. Flair for accuracy.

11. Should understand the requirements of users.

 

Butler has emphasized that ‘if cataloguers are to win the professional respect that is due to them, they must learn to justify, explicitly and realistically, every detail in the bibliographical operations.

 

2.4.2  Duty Hours

 

The work of cataloguing causes strain and fatigue, therefore undue long hours of duty should not be insisted on. A duration of six hours with half an hour break is enough.

 

2.4.3 Seating Arrangement of Staff

 

The efficient and smooth working of a cataloguing department depends upon the proper assignment of its work. A wise distribution of work will definitely bring more fruits. There should also be logical sequence of working tables in the department. For example the Head cataloguer should sit in the centre to supervise and coordinate the working of other staff. The reviser or the final checker of the processed books be in close proximity with the person who designs master cataloguing slips for the catalogue typist. The catalogue typist be placed next to them as he may need the assistance of the person who has prepared the slips for him.

 

The classifier and his assistants should be in a separate cell, close to the cell of the cataloguer, as the classification and cataloguing are inter-dependent activities. It is the classifier who is responsible for the subject entries, required to be prepared for a particular book. The class number should co-relate the subject entries. Both the classifier and cataloguer should know the readers approach and must well understand the utility of book for a particular type of reader.

 

The efficiently and success of the department depends upon its organization and proper exploitation of its man power. A chief cataloguer is selected and empowered to direct and supervise the work of others. The chief cataloguer who is an expert in cataloguing should be given a free hand to plan and divide the work in the best manner without undue interference from the librarian and the library committee. According to Minie A Lewis it is the best advantage to exchange assistant of cataloguing and reference departments for the time being. Monthly meetings of the staff of cataloguing department also proves very fruitful.

 

2.5  Procedure of Cataloguing Department

 

To expedite the work of the department the following procedure may be adopted:-

 

The books received in the cataloguing department may be grouped into three:-

 

(a)  Books purchased by the library.

(b)Books purchased by the departmental/branch libraries or for the department/branch libraries.

(c)  Books received as complementary and gift.

 

Books at serial no. 1 and 2 may further be divided into:

 

1. Reference books which may be in demand for reference department for providing reference service such as year books etc.

2. Rush books which are in immediate demand by the teachers and students.

 

As regards books purchased by the departmental/branch libraries, it is convenient to give them separate treatment, as such books are transferred to the departments/branch libraries after giving them proper technical treatment. Priorities may, of course be decided according to their demands in departments.

 

In order to facilitate the work of the cataloguing department books may be further subgrouped into (1) Fiction (2) Non-fiction (3) Serials (4) Books of foreign languages (5) Added copies and later editions (6) Pamphlets etc.

 

Special material grouping into book form such as atlas, incunabula, music score and microfilm, film scripts be given a special treatment by virtue of their nature, scope, purpose and get up.

 

Looking to the rush of work and strength of staff provided to the department, as far as possible each work should be entrusted to different persons. It is a fact that in a small university library this is not feasible, still books of language serials and departmental/branch libraries books be entrusted to different persons. This will provide quick and efficient service.

 

Specialization in a particular field is needed in a big library, but at the same time it should also be kept in mind that as far as possible all competent members of the staff should get opportunity to do all type of work within their capacity of work. Same type of work for all the days in a year provides monotony for the worker. Change of work accelerates the speed of work.

 

Division of work of a cataloguing department for producing more dividends at minimum cost needs imagination and wide experience. Proper exploitation of man power is essential to expedite the work timely. It is also necessary to bring economy in administration. In Indian libraries, all documents of Hindi and English language are better allotted to separate persons well acquainted with the language for classification and cataloguing, including assigning of subject headings.

 

2.6  Work flow in Cataloguing Department

 

The whole of cataloging department may be divided into six main divisions:-

 

1.  Preparation of process slips.

2. Copying or typing of process slips on cards.

3. Comparison or revision of typed cards.

4. Numbering on typed cards and books.

5. Final checking of the cards.

6. Sorting and filing of catalogue cards.

 

Preparation of process slips require thorough and patience verification of previous entries in the catalogue. The process slip should provide a complete design of main entry of a book. The other added entries which are to be prepared by the typist, cataloguer must indicate on it specifically. When a process slip is finally approved by the chief cataloguer, it is ready for copying. Copying is done as per process slip in pursuance to instructions indicated for added entries etc. After the cards are typed they are compared and errors, if any are corrected. Cards, spine and date label of the book is numbered by the numberer. The whole processing is again checked up by the chief cataloguer, who is responsible for the whole work. The cards are taken out from the books and are sent for sorting and filing. The books are then sent to the various service departments after putting date of release over such books which are meant for circulation. The books belonging to departmental/branch libraries are separately listed and transferred to them alongwith one copy of catalogue cards, for their record. One copy of the cards in the catalogue of the central library serves the purpose of union catalogue.

 

2.7 Maintenance of Statistics

 

To assess the progress and flow of the work done in the department daily, weekly monthly and quarterly be maintained. For the compilation of an annual report, total number of books processed be recorded. More detailed statistics may be maintained to assess the strength and weakness of the department.

 

The basic reason for keeping statistics is to use them as a means towards the quantitative assessment of achievement and qualitative too if possible.

 

While assessing the work of an individual, his nature of work, quality of work and quantity of work be judged. Quantity alone should not be taken into consideration. The working of this department demands accuracy, consistency and neatness. To be accurate, slow working is essential. Inaccurate work consume more time in its correction. Clumsy and inconsistent work makes the catalogue ugly and bring blame to the library staff.

 

It is the responsibility of the cataloguing department to process the books within reasonable time to make them available to the readers. But if, despite good organistion, sound procedure, satisfactory morale a cataloguing department is unable to bring its accumulated arrears under control, its solution may be found out by providing more cataloguing personnel or adopting more realistic acquisition programme.

 

2.8  Catalogue Maintenance and Revision

 

As catalogue of a library provides a key to its holdings, proper upkeep of a library catalogue is of utmost importance, hence it should not be left on junior staff. Like acquisition and processing of books, filing is also a routine process of the cataloguing department, Filing work of catalogue cards proceeds alongwith the release or books. In other words, as soon as the books are out for public use its catalogue cards must also reach their respective catalogue trays. Their early or late entry in the catalogue cabinet may cause inconvenience to the readers. Withdrawal of catalogue cards of lost books and replacement of worn-out or soiled cards should be done immediately. It is the responsibility of the cataloguing department to keep the catalogue up-to-date as far as possible. A special care on the part of cataloguing department is needed to look after its working.

 

Besides these (1) replacement of worn and soiled cards (2) re-cataloguing of books, as and when necessary (3) catalogue expansion and shifting, when required (4) revision of subject headings by discarding outmoded ones and rehabilitate the catalogue with current headings, which are better understood and (5)   editorial work on catalogue to correct filing errors are some other impotent duties performed by the cataloguing department of a library. To carry out all these tasks properly and timely a filer, well conversant with the filing rules be assigned these jobs, Any error in the process of filing and withdrawal may cause inconvenience to readers and also misguide the library staff referring the catalogue during the process of their routine work. The whole purpose of classification and cataloguing is marred if the filing of catalogue cards is not done properly. Hence the department should shoulder this responsibility with due caution.

 

2.9 Relations with other departments

 

Cordial relations between one department and another department of a library are necessary for effective and efficient working. Reciprocity tends to improve the service and infuses a feeling of cooperation in the staff. As the cataloguing department plays a key role in the library its intimate relations with other departments such as acquisition, circulation, reference and with departmental/branch libraries are essential.

 

2.9.1 Ordering and Cataloguing Department

 

In some libraries ordering and cataloguing are combined under one head, but most libraries divide the work into two. Actually these two departments should have close connections. Both have to depend upon one another. The catalogue department gets material from the acquisition department. The acquisition department depends upon the cataloguing department for information’s such as duplicates, replacements, differences in editions and similar other questions and the cataloguing department looks to the acquisition department to transmit relevant informations that may facilitates the work of cataloguing.

 

2.9.2 Reference and Cataloguing Department

 

The catalogue and reference department carry almost equal responsibilities with regards to readers services. It is said that a cataloguer must be a good reference librarian/also. He must know the requirements of a reader and his possible approaches to a document. Hence catalogue department of a library should be equipped with necessary reference tools for carrying on the work. The catalogue reveals the stock and a reference librarian carries out his duties efficiently and effectively if the cataloguer has performed his task as per his reference needs. On the other hand the cataloguing department knows from the reference librarian the approaches and needs of readers. Both the cataloguer and the reference librarian must discuss the needs of readers. Both catalogue and reference librarian must discuss the needs of readers for effective and efficient readers service in a librarian.

 

2.9.3 Circulation and Cataloguing Department

 

Circulation department of a library is most easily accessible to its readers. It is one of the departments which comes in close which the public. Catalogue of a library is generally placed in close proximity with this department, hence it regularly receives readers comments regarding the entries in the catalogue. The circulation assistant also use the catalogue constantly for guiding and providing services to the new and inquisitive readers. He also works down certain points of improvement for the catalogue entries. He keeps a watch on the readers approaches and is ready to welcome their suggestions. The cataloguing department of a University library should be in constant touch with the circulation department for any improvement in the catalogue.

 

2.9.4 Department/Branch libraries and Cataloguing Department

 

A close relation with department/branch libraries, being served by the library, be maintained. Their suggestions with regard to catalogue entries, prepared for their libraries be taken into consideration. Books belonging to departmental libraries be given priorities

 

Cataloguing department should not fail to take advantage of the knowledge of the experts in charge of special departments, such as technology, medicine, art and music. Advice from them for classification and subject headings will often help to settle a doubtful point.

 

If a catalogue department is planned carefully and organized properly on scientific lines, it will work economically and efficiently. In charge of the cataloguing department should always keep an eye the new ideas and latest equipment of duplicating cards.

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Further Reading

  1. Girja Kumar and Krishana Kumar. Theory cataloguing. 5th ed. Delhi, Vikas, 1986. Chap. 15.
  2. Horner, John. Cataloguing. London: Association of Assistant Librarians, 1970. Chap. 33 & 34.
  3. Mann, Margaret. Introduction to cataloguing and classification of books. 2nd ed. Chicago: ALA, 1973. Chap. 17.
  4. Sengupta, B. Cataloguing: its theory and practice. Calcutta: World Press, 1964. Chap 13.
  5. Sharp, Henry A. Cataloguing: a text book for use in libraries. 5th ed. Bombay: Allied Publishers, 1964. Chap. 28.
  6. Trotier, Arnold H. Organization and administration of cataloguing processes. Library Trends. 2 (2), 1953. 264-276.
  7. Vishwanathan, C.G.. Cataloguing: theory and practice. Lucknow: Print House (India) 1983. Chap. 10.