The Daily News: This just in, a volunteer at the Crocker Art Museum Library was crushed to death by the AACR2 (Anglo-American Rules for Cataloguing 2002 edition).
Well, not quite, but that’s what I felt like. I am now volunteering at the Hansen Library at the Crocker Art Museum in downtown Sacramento on Saturdays. I met with the Librarian yesterday to see what he wanted me to do, and he ended up giving me a 2 hour crash course on cataloguing. I had no idea it was so complex. MARC (MAchine Readable Catalogue Record) format is a long list of numbered fields that you fill in with everything under the sun so the computer can read the record and show the user what we normally see, a normal bibliographic reference. The librarian loaned me his edition of the AACR2. It is a binder full of about 300-400 pages of cataloguing rules.
I find this very ironic!! I just finished taking a class on Subject Cataloging – that’s right – not all cataloging, just 2 whole days on subjects! The funny part was the list of books we were given to help us decide how to assign subjects to items we catalog. There is the 6 volume set of “big red books” that helps us find valid subject headings, then there’s a set of several “big red binders” that tell us the rules for assigning headings, and lastly there is a manual just for free-floating subdivisions (sub headings that can be applied almost anywhere).
As someone who loves to learn and who enjoys cataloging and finding the perfect heading – I now want to read these insane manuals – buy why???? Why are there so many rules? Why can’t it all be simplified?
Right now I’ll have to forego reading those manuals because I’m giving my reading energy to Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous.