The Library Uncovered: Behind the Scenes with Collections Services

Resource Description

Rich Murray, Resource Description

The catalogers in Resource Description use our subject knowledge and multidisciplinary expertise to describe materials in all formats collected by the Libraries and create entries in the online catalog. For each work, we must understand and synthesize its content so we can apply subject headings that convey what it’s about and assign Library of Congress Classification numbers so it will sit on the shelf with similar works. Basically, we ask ourselves, “Who might find this interesting or useful and how do we make sure they find it?”

Our catalogers must be able to work with materials in all the languages the Libraries collect -- 458 at last count!

Lesley Looper, Resource Description

The staff in Resource Description don’t just catalog newly acquired books, DVDs, serials, scores, maps, and other types of materials: we play a role in managing description of library materials throughout their life cycle. These activities can include adding additional or replacement copies as well as, sadly, declaring items Missing or Lost. Occasionally we even get to restore “Lost” items to the catalog when books turn up in unexpected places and are returned to us after being away for years! 

Books ready for the bindery in Resource Description

Importantly, we also manage shipments of library materials to and from the commercial bindery, which is located in the Triad region of North Carolina. We often bind together issues of periodicals to make them more convenient to use (and sturdier!) in the long term. We also send paperback books to the commercial bindery with physical qualities that make them more subject to physical damage, like being very tall, very small, very thick, very thin, or just plain floppy.

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