Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Apostle of Cataloging

I met the apostle of cataloging yesterday at AALL. Until I have permission to use this person’s name, I will simply use that title rather than a name or pronoun. But the story is amazing and inspiring enough that I want to tell about the concept, whether I may use the name ever. The apostle of cataloging spends vacations going to Latin America to teach cataloging to librarians there. With a partner librarian from Mexico, the apostle makes contact with library groups, schools and national libraries throughout the region, and offers to teach the MARC format for cataloging. Most of these countries do not have OCLC membership, and so they can’t contribute to the OCLC database. But they gratefully learn cataloging skills, how to use the fields in a record, and the art of selecting the correct classification. Groups are contacting the apostle and partner now to request workshops in more countries, as the word spreads.

I have admired the work of Habitat for Humanity, and volunteered for a while locally. They do local building that is important, but the most inspiring stories are from the trips groups make to build with local people around the world. I could not do that, physically, since they don’t need committee work from non-citizens, but hammer-pounders. The work of the apostle of cataloging made me wonder if there are library skills that others, perhaps (even me!) could offer to the world community. What an intriguing idea. Perhaps this ties into the China-US Conference plan, a bit, since part of that meeting is to lend Chinese law librarians more prestige and help them overcome their isolation, even within their country, to build an organization that will offer continuing education, standards, collegiality and a voice in policy as AALL does here. But I’ll bet there are other regions and skill sets as well. Anybody for Librarians for Humanity? Or maybe Librarians Without Borders?


Grace Mills said...

Hello Betsy,
There is Librarians Without Borders! It's an international organization, started in 2005, whose vision "is to build sustainable libraries and support their custodians and advocates - librarians." Check it out at http://www.lwb-online.org/ It's a great organization and a great group of people (if I do say so myself as a member.)

Connie said...

Well, there is already the group Librarians Without Borders born in London, Ontario, in 2005:

We invited them along as speakers at our Libraries Without Borders conference (the name is coincidental), the 4th Northeast Regional Law Libraries Meeting:

Libraries Without Borders

Betsy McKenzie said...

Thank you, Connie! I was not aware of this group. I'll look at their website. I'm planning to attend the Toronto Northeast Regional meeting, and I hope I'll see you and them there!