Saturday, June 03, 2006

On Assigning Call Numbers to Books in a Public Library: Pinch Hitting

Kris is on vacation, so I am assigning call numbers to adult nonfiction books while she is gone. You have to be versatile when you work in a small library and step into other roles to help the cause. Assigning call numbers is something I have done off and on throughout my career, though I have never been a full-time cataloger. I took cataloging in library school long ago and know my way around the DDC22 (Dewey Decimal Classification edition 22).

As a cataloger I am uppity. While I like finding good call numbers already provided in the book or by another library in our shared catalog, I am not afraid to pose my own. Most of the 92 books I handed in the past three days were easy, but I found several call numbers to question.

First I found Look Good Feel Great by Joyce Meyer, a diet and exercise book by a Christian author aimed at a Christian audience. No other library has added the book as yet. The cataloging in publication (CIP) recommends the call number 248.4, which DDC22 describes as "Christian life and practice." The book has a little bit of religious philosophy but is primarily about exercise and diet. I assigned the Dewey 613 for personal health.

A second book had the complication of being aimed at a Christian audience. Serve God, Save the Planet by J. Matthew Sleeth argues that Christians should be environmentalists and live planet-friendly lives. The CIP recommended 261.8'8, which is "Social theology and interreligious relations and attitudes." In our small collection, it would be totally alone at that number. Because the book is mostly about environmental ethics and might be of interest beyond theology readers, I assigned it 333.72.

Lies at the Altar: The Truth About Great Marriages
by Robin L. Smith was the third book I found with an odd Dewey suggestion in the book. 646.78 would put it between books on care for fingernails and books on planning for retirement in our collection. I chose to join one other library assigning 306.81, which puts it with our other books on marriage.

Another book I want to mention is Political Zoo by Michael Savage, in which the radio talk show host describes public figures as zoo animals. He offends people on both the right and left in this book. I notice his other books are in the 320s, but many of our libraries seem to be putting the new title in 818. 818 puts this book with collected works by Carl Sandburg, May Sarton, Wallace Stegner, and Henry David Thoreau. It does not belong there! With one other library, I have assigned 320.02 to the book. Let it sit with the other political books.

When you see a library in your shared database assigning a different call number from the majority of libraries, it is usually worth a look. Someone has taken the time to really examine a book.

I just ordered Mom's Cancer, a graphic book by Brian Fies. (It is nonfiction, so I can not call it a graphic novel. Is there another term?) I noticed that libraries are assigning the call number 741.5973, which puts it in the drawing area with comic strips. This is personal account of cancer. I will ask Kris to assign 362.1 or biography to this book.

Assigning call numbers is tricky business and I am glad I do not have to do this all the time. Kris, come back soon!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are many graphic novels that are nonfiction. They are still considered graphic novels and their numbers are growing.