Cataloguing Under Covid 4

Cataloguing Under Covid 4

It is the end of another working week, for me anyway, so I thought I’d share what I’ve been working on, just to keep everyone in the loop as we move towards reopening the PMI to members.

I went into the PMI yesterday to pick up more books, to update a few files and shelve the periodicals I’ve been indexing. You might have seen posts on our social media pages about a big donation by Moreland Libraries. These are the books I collected to bring home for cataloguing. Our Secretary Librarian Steven, had sorted them into books the PMI already holds (which will go to the book sale eventually) and the ones we will be adding to the collection. So I picked the three boxes, you can see them in the photo below, and brought them home for cataloguing.


It’s always fun going through the new books from a donation, and this is a great selection. The highlights are several Indigenous art books and some great natural history titles, an area of the collection we’re trying in particular to grow.

Today I catalogued the contents of the box on the right. This involves adding the books to our Accession Register, so we know that they are in the library (well theoretically in the library for now), downloading their records from Libraries Australia, and making sure we are listed as holding the book, and then cataloguing them inline with our cataloguing and operational procedures. For the most part the most interesting, and the trickiest, components of this are deciding what Dewey number to assign to the book (the PMI has a modified Dewey system as we are so specialised) and assigning the subjects (we also run our own subject thesaurus). Today this was largely straight forward as I was working on a number of books from the same area, but it can be quite complex.

I wanted to show you a few of the books I worked on today, to give you an idea of the scope of the donation. As I said the highlights are Indigenous art and natural history. So I thought I’d profile one of each.

My favourite natural history book from today is: Freshwater tortoises of Australia and New Guinea : in the family Chelidae / by John Goode ; designed and illustrated by Howard Johnson.

I mainly like it because it fills a gap in the collection, we didn’t have anything on Australian tortoises, and because of the somewhat amusing way they tried to show scale… have a look at the photo below and you’ll see what I’m talking about.


For the Indigenous art books, I wanted to look briefly at Australia’s Greatest Rock Art / Grahame L. Walsh 

Like other books on Indigenous Australians I have discussed before it is of its time, it was written in 1988, but it has an astounding and varied array of rock art depicted from all over Australia.

rock art

It brings home again, the importance, complexity, beauty and narrative nature of Indigenous art in Australia, especially in the face of recent depredations by mining companies. This is why these sorts of books are so important to the PMI’s collection, very sadly Indigenous rock art has been and is still being destroyed. They are also an important part of the history of art in Australia more generally.

The final thing I wanted to talk about is cataloguing material that has been donated from another library. You come across a great variety of library stamps and stickers. It’s always fun to see them, as they are part of the life and history of the book and to know that we’ll soon be adding PMI stamps to continue the book’s history in our collection. You can see some examples in the photos below.

So that’s a quick tour of today’s work. I’ll be back next week with another look at what I’ve been working on, and hopefully back in the library, at least sometimes, not too long after that.


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