Occasionally we get asked as cataloguers “What is it that you do?”. Generally the reply doesn’t spawn a huge level of interest, as it often involves words like metadata, filing, Dewey decimal, and subject headings. Thus you’re unlikely to know that cataloguing in itself has recently undergone a bit of a revolution. Before your mind springs forth images of armies of cataloguing staff fighting each other with handwritten catalogue-cards, it wasn’t at all that violent… Mostly.
I enjoy cataloguing our collection of zines, I am always surprised by the variety of illustrations that we get from simple line drawing to beautiful art work. Some are a little shocking, or rather confronting, but can be done so well.
If you’ve ever tried Googling your name, and it happens to be something like John Williams, then you’ll know how frustrating that can be. Millions of results and no easy way to distinguish John Williams the guitarist from every other John Williams out there, both contemporary and historic figures. Useless! Well, librarians have been coping with this problem for ages, long before the days of the Internet, and we came up with a solution years ago. We call it “authority control”.
One of the unique things about zines is the variety of construction techniques used to create them. This can range from simple staples or yellow electrical tape used as binding to hand sewn zines or methods of folding and cutting paper to produce a booklet.
Kart really captured my imagination, it’s not something I can put my finger on, but it just has a magical quality which makes you want to delve into each pocket to discover the delights contained within. I’ve been lucky enough to catalogue issues 1-7 of this wonderful title and therefore have been able to take a good look at the various graphic art items in each pocket which are no bigger than 12 x 18 cm each. Kart is produced in limited editions of 40, each box containing 15 artworks (
Yes, serials can end, and start again. That is why we sometimes have links to later or earlier titles. But not always. Generally we only create a new record for what we consider a "major" title change, but if a serial has lots of minor variations in a word or two of the title we may handle this all on a single record.
While on a buying trip for the collection, one of our staff bought an American zine for herself titled, “The Dewey Decimal System is decadent and depraved.” She didn’t buy it for the collection as the National Library generally only collects zines by Australians. She, like every other librarian who has seen it on her desk, was drawn to it a) because librarians are tickled to see that someone is noticing what we do even if they don’t like it and b) because most librarians actually have quite a lot of sympathy for the author’s point of view.
This post is about a small cataloguing convention called an institution specific note. A special note that we sometimes put on catalogue records that only relates to the copy we have in our collection (and not to any other libraries that might also have a copy of this title). A few months ago now when I was at the Canberra Zine Fair we acquired a copy of this gorgeous zine called "First world youth cultures to be addressed : Mumbai sapphire edition" by Nicholas Burns and Sam Bears.