Thursday, February 28, 2008


"The convenience of the user must be put before the ease of the cataloger."

Charles Cutter is a name that's pretty familiar to anyone who catalogs. That's his statement. I've written about users in relation to cataloging departments before, but it's always interesting to see a quote from Cutter in a book on metadata best practices. Mostly because I have this dim idea that librarians in the past weren't as user-centered as we are today.
I'm noticing, actually, that this new cataloging department I'm in isn't nearly as user-centered as I am personally. They are positively mesmerized by standards. The AACRII rules supreme here, it seems. Although I could be acting like the misguided newbie that I am...I haven't even been trained in their procedures yet. But I have this feeling that they are more involved with where colons go than I ever was. This should be good training for me, and hopefully my new supervisor means it when they say that I should review the institution's policies and procedures. I like standardization, don't get me wrong, but I also don't like to see something continued just because it's traditional practice. Users certainly don't care about my traditional practice, they just want to find their stuff.
I wish I could invite Charles Cutter to dinner sometime, and ask him what he thinks of all this practice that developed from Panizzi and from him. I like to think he'd throw down his monocle* in disgust.

*I don't know for sure that Cutter had a monocle. But that would be cool.

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"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.