Book Wasn’t In the Catalog But It Was On the Shelf. What Happened?

I was searching for a book from home using the Libraries’ online catalog system – I connected to it through the Libraries website. According the information I got from my search of the catalog, the book I wanted was not available – there was no record for it. But the next day I was at the library looking for another book and low and behold, the book I was searching for – the one the catalog didn’t list at all – was the first book that I saw sitting on the shelf. How is it possible that the book wasn’t in the catalog yet was there on the shelf. Something’s wrong. Can you explain this?
The next issue, with the same book, is the call number. I believe the number is incorrect. It is numbered as a book for Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs when it is actually the information gathering portion of designing a building also called programming. I think you should correct the call number.

We are grateful that you brought your problems with this book to us, and doubly grateful because finding it required some extra work on your part.  The book did not, as you say, display in Diamond (our online catalog), because at some point in the process of being checked in, or checked out,  or moved from one location to another, or even because it went missing for a while, the record for the book was removed from public view.  We are pleased to have been able to restore the information about the book to you and others who might need it.

As for the shelf number of the book: here at Temple we use Library of Congress classification, which divides subjects and genres more or less arbitrarily into an A-Z range.  The NA range is for architecture and contains a large number of topical and geographic subdivisions.  Which subdivision a book is placed in is based largely on a correspondence with the Library of Congress Subject Heading that is chosen by the cataloger.  In this case the cataloger was actually at the Library of Congress, and chose the topic—and sub-topic  “Architectural design–Data processing,” apparently on the basis of the title word “programming.”  As you mention, this involves a misunderstanding of what “programming” means to architects and other design professionals, and so the book wound up in the wrong classification. It’s worthwhile to help people looking for books on your topic by reclassifying the book.

That said, cataloging is a highly cooperative enterprise involving the work of professionals all over the U.S. The Library of Congress itself is considered the “gold standard” for cataloging.  For this reason, Library of Congress cataloging is merely given a low-level quality control check here at Temple, along with a  little physical processing.  We kept the original classification, as did the other 250 or so libraries that I can find that have the book.  In our field there is something of an understanding that all libraries that hold a book keep the original classification unless there’s some very good reason to make a change.  So when you’re through with the book, we’re going to take another look at it, just to be on the safe side.  In the end we will most likely follow your advice.

 

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