Is becoming a cataloging librarian right for me?

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What do cataloging librarians do?

Still unsure if becoming a cataloging librarian is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a cataloging librarian or another similar career!

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How to become a Cataloging Librarian

Becoming a cataloging librarian involves a combination of education, practical experience, and professional development. Here are the steps you can take to pursue a career as a cataloging librarian:

  • Obtain a Bachelor's Degree: While there is no specific undergraduate major required, a degree in library science, information science, or a related field is beneficial.
  • Earn a Master's Degree: Pursue a Master's degree in Library Science (MLS) or a similar program with a focus on cataloging and metadata. Look for programs accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
  • Complete a Cataloging Internship: If possible, undertake a cataloging internship or practicum during your graduate program to gain hands-on experience in a cataloging department.
  • Specialize in Cataloging: Focus on cataloging-related coursework during your graduate studies. Specialized courses in cataloging, metadata, and classification systems will build the foundational knowledge required for the role.
  • Develop Technical Skills: Acquire proficiency in cataloging standards such as MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloging), AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloging Rules) or RDA (Resource Description and Access), and library classification systems (e.g., Library of Congress Classification).
  • Network with Professionals: Attend professional conferences and events to network with cataloging librarians and professionals in the field. Join professional organizations like the American Library Association (ALA) and participate in cataloging-related discussion groups.
  • Build a Portfolio: Develop a portfolio that showcases your cataloging skills, including examples of bibliographic records you have created or improved. Highlight any relevant projects, coursework, or internships.
  • Apply for Entry-Level Positions: Look for entry-level positions, such as Cataloging Assistant or Library Technical Assistant, that provide practical experience in cataloging processes. These positions can serve as a stepping stone to a more specialized cataloging role.
  • Consider Certification: Explore certifications related to cataloging, such as the Academy Certified Professional Cataloger (APC) offered by the American Library Association (ALA) or other relevant certifications.
  • Pursue Advanced Degrees (Optional): Depending on career goals, consider pursuing advanced degrees, such as a Ph.D., to specialize further or take on leadership roles in cataloging and metadata.

Helpful Resources
Cataloging librarians can benefit from a variety of resources to stay informed about cataloging standards, tools, and best practices. Here are some helpful resources for cataloging librarians:

  • American Library Association (ALA): ALA provides a platform for librarians to access resources, participate in discussions, and stay updated on developments in the field of cataloging.
  • Library of Congress (LC): The LC website offers valuable resources on cataloging practices and updates on cataloging standards. Familiarize yourself with the Library of Congress Classification system, which is widely used in academic and research libraries.
  • Online Audiovisual Catalogers (OLAC): OLAC focuses on cataloging audiovisual materials and provides resources, training, and a community for professionals in this area.
  • Resource Description and Access (RDA): RDA is a set of cataloging guidelines that provide instructions for creating bibliographic records. The RDA Toolkit is an essential resource.
  • MARC Standards: Learn about the Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC) standards, which define the structure and content of bibliographic records.
  • Library Juice Academy: Offers online courses on various cataloging and metadata topics, providing opportunities for professional development.
  • ALCTS Webinars: The Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) offers webinars on cataloging and technical services topics.
  • Cataloging & Metadata Management Section (CaMMS): A division of ALA, CaMMS provides a community for cataloging and metadata professionals.
  • Autocat Listserv: Autocat is a widely used listserv for cataloging professionals, offering a platform for discussions and information sharing.
  • Cataloging & Classification Quarterly: A journal that publishes articles on cataloging research, innovations, and best practices.
  • Cataloging Futures: A blog by cataloging expert Dr. Cheryl Tarsala, offering insights and reflections on cataloging trends.