Date of this Version
Library Philosophy and Practice 2012
The public library, being a local centre for information – making a variety of information and knowledge available to its users, requires a well planned and good method of organizing and keeping the records of its materials. This is the reason why cataloguing and classification in any library should be given the necessary professional touch(s) especially in the era information communication technology (ICT). ICT in the words of Ejedafiru (2010) refers to technology that transmits, stores, creates, displays, shares, or exchanges information by electronic means.
Cataloguing and classification of a book simply put, has to do with sieving out and organizing the bibliographic information of a reading material, arranging them in a particular order and grouping the reading materials mainly books into classes. Cataloguing and classification as well as other library activities/services have witnessed reasonable changes in the era of ICT. In the words of Arkoful (2007), these technologies have accelerated the rate at which library services and routines are carried out.
The work of cataloguers have changed and expanded as noted by Crosby (2001). According to her, cataloguers classify books, videos, CD-ROMS, and other materials so as to enable users find what they are looking for. Cataloguing has grown more important as searchers log on to on-line catalogues from home. Technology has made cataloguing more efficient. In the words of Youngman (1999), cataloguers are moving into new roles as they attempt to provide enhanced access to the new resources. They now process not only books, but also CD-ROMs, computer discs, and multi-format items. Cataloguers add the records they create to a shared international database. It is known that librarians have been sharing catalogues for a long time, but electronics and the internet have made it easier. Because of on-line access, making catalogues easy to use is more critical and more possible. Using computers, Crosby (2001) said, librarians are starting to create different catalogues for different kinds of readers. A catalogue designed for casual browsers for instance, she said, might display summaries of each book while the one designed for preschoolers might use more graphics or might not rely as heavily on putting things in alphabetical order.
Cataloguers in the present day information age are required to and must make informed decisions on matters such as linking to electronic journals and managing holdings “hooks” to various databases. Cataloguers today create records that accommodate multiple means of accessing a particular resource. Library patrons are coming to expect records that include print holdings, microforms, and direct links to an electronic version of the item. Cataloguing the internet itself is a task that has fallen on librarians, affirmed Youngman. Application of the Dublin Core metadata tag systems is a skill that did not exist just a few years ago but is now rapidly growing in importance as an additional role for librarians. As Chepesuik (1999) earlier noted, “it is not a metadata element set to replace MARC, rather it is going to evolve alongside it”. Crosby confirmed this by saying that some librarians are helping to organize the internet as they are setting their sights on digital information. Many pieces of materials on the internet have digital tags that describe them so that search engines can find them more easily. These tags – (metadata tags) might say who wrote the material or what it is about. So they organize books, but that is rarely done with card catalogues rather they use databases and digital metadata tags. Francis-Swanson (2010) presenting it in more common terms said that a feature of today’s library is the Online Public Access Catalogue which is database containing the library’s collection that can be accessed by anyone on-line. She added that academic libraries now can offer full text electronic subscription-based journals to their users that can be accessed via the library’s web page in addition to supplying a user name and pass word.
Cataloguers no longer catalogue and classify books only but also electronic materials like C D ROMs (where available). Also they do access online catalogues, transform the available bibliographic records to machine readable formats, engage in resource sharing and networking. Yusuf (2009) asserted that in recent times, library systems developers have worked hard to create a machine readable library catalogue that provides functionality beyond that of analog card to accommodate technological changes. It has become obvious that book cataloguing cannot be relied upon in the era when information materials have come to take electronic formats and information flow virtually.