Passion for Students is Not Searchable

Recently, a discussion of catalog records emerged on a library listserv. The focus was about the necessity of teaching original cataloging in this transition between AACR2 and RDA and how much of each library students (at the college level) should experience. Included in one reply was the statement that the catalog record is the base of the library program and teaching original cataloging should not be forgone.

I had such a vehement reaction to that statement. Here I respond and say quite simply:

I hope that we consider our students the foundation of our library programs, and not catalog records.


I can’t disagree with teaching cataloging in the course of school librarianship. It is important. We do need to be able to manage our system for keeping track of and being knowledgeable about our resources. But it’s not the foundation of our job.

Never has my knowledge of cataloging gotten me a library job. Never has a parent asked me about my cataloging experience. Never has a principal asked to see my catalog records.

It is my work with students, my vision of the library program, and my collaboration with staff that is noticed. No one has ever looked at my transcript for cataloging. I can do it, but if I couldn’t I also have the resources to find the answers I need. I can ask others, I can find a tutorial, and I can search for help on the Internet. We’re librarians. We can find information.

The one thing we can’t search for is a passion for students and their growth as readers and explorers of the world. So let’s not forget that this is the foundation of our library programs. Not the records that we keep, but the lives that we touch.


  1. You are so right! With all the demands on our time these days, we have to stay focused on the things that are of lasting importance. I’m sure none of our students will look back and remember how well organized our catalogs were! They’ll be thinking of how we showed that we cared about what was important to them.

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