On Wednesday I got to have a go at some cataloguing. For those of you not familiar with library-speak, cataloguing is the process by which books, journals, audio-visual materials etc, are put into a database. Every title is described in a separate record, and each record contains searchable information plus computer coding. The coding is called MARC (machine readable cataloguing), and it allows the user to search in small elements (e.g. date, format, location…).
I have to admit this is not the most riveting thing that I’ve done, although it is one of the more traditional library tasks. What I found most interesting was classification (think Dewey Decimal) and MESH terms. We use the Wessex Classification scheme, which is “a revision of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) schedules incorporating current UK medical and health practice.” I think classification is the most creative part of cataloguing, as it is up to you to determine which sub-headings/topics an item belongs to, and which terms are most commonly used when users are searching for similar items.