I’m not cheap, I’m resourceful.
In a field structured around the stewardship of information and related services, catalogers often have to turn on a dime – pick up a new skill, take over a sick coworker’s format, manage the description of a highlighted collection – all under the constraints of limited time and resources.
Fortunately, there are scads of information superheroes out there, sharing training content and quick references with wild abandon. FREE. TO ANYONE WITH AN INTERNET CONNECTION. Here are some of my personal favorites.
If you catalog using MARC, you probably already use one of these on a regular basis. They have similar content with distinctly different design principles. The OCLC page is prettier, but it includes some content (abbreviations for values in the fixed field, for example) that only applies to OCLC products.
Both of these products come from the Library of Congress: the Authorities page is the old-school, lots-of-clicks, browse-only version of the name, subject, and title authorities; the Linked Data Service is a shiny-new and massive database of a whole slew of thesauri (including the lists found in the Authorities). The sheer size of the Linked Data Service slows it down some days, but SO MUCH INFORMATION.
SLC, from a log home on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, provides contract cataloging services and a wealth of free cataloging cheat sheets. They record, field-by-field, the rules and options for describing books, serials, AV materials, and unusual formats. Legendary.
An experimental project that has gloriously persisted, Classify uses a FRBR-based algorithm to help you assign classification numbers and subject headings to a variety of materials.
The brilliant thing about email lists (aka “listservs”): they retain searchable archives. Even if you don’t want to subscribe to the potential avalanche of daily messages from these lists, maintaining login credentials gives you access to robust histories of questions and answers contributed by the Collective Wisdom.
- AUTOCAT covers all cataloging topics. It’s MASSIVE. Pro-tip: if you want to lurk but not fill up your inbox every day, you can subscribe in digest mode. This gives you one tidy message per day with a summary of the ongoing conversations.
- OLAC-L represents the scope of the Online Audiovisual Catalogers; great for anyone working with non-book formats.
- SERIALST handles discussions of serials cataloging. NASIG (the North American Serials Interest Group) has maintained the list since 2014.
- RDA-L hosts discussions on RDA. The JSC (Joint Steering Committee for the development of RDA) posts helpful updates and notices here, as well.
We’ll build up a list of free resources in our “Documentation” tab soon, so check back for updates and expansions.
Have a favorite freebie you’d like to share with the community? Tell us all about it in the comments section!
~Misty Alvaro, MLIS, Cataloger Librarian at Upper Arlington Public Library
(Image credit: https://xkcd.com/181/)