. Summer 1999

Contents of this issue

From the editor's desk

June is the time for library conferences. Loyola University's Lake Shore campus is the site for the American Theological Library Association on June 9-12. This is the first year that two of our members will be leading workshops on Judaica topics. Shoshana Seidman lead a workshop on cataloging. I lead workshop on Judaica reference sources. ATLA will be publishing proceedings of the convention.

For the Fall issue I hope those who attend AJL in Boca Raton or ALA in New Orleans will send reports or impressions of their experiences.

I am still looking for articles from our members about the libraries that you work in.

This issue has the conclusion of my article on cataloging and an article by Glenn Ferdman, library director at Spertus Institute, on strategic planning.

If you have news, information, ideas, or articles that you want to share please send them to me : Daniel Stuhlman, editor at : DDStuhlman@earthlink.net.

Minutes of the January 19, 1999 Meeting

The meeting was called to order at 7:50 p.m. by President Margaret Burka. In attendance were 10 members.

Margaret thanked Robbin Katzin of Hillel Torah for hosting the meeting.

The minutes from the Fall meeting were accepted as written.

Treasurer's Report:

Robbin gave the report as Judith Simon was unable to attend. There is a balance of $663.80. It was decided that subsidies totaling $400 can be awarded to members attending the annual meeting.

Robbin was unanimously appointed Tax Officer to take care of filing tax returns.

Annual Meeting:

Shoshanah encouraged all to attend the annual meeting and announced that stipends of between $200 and $300 are available from the Doris Orenstein fund for first-time attendees.

The business meeting was bisected by the education meeting (on Jewish web sites) hosted by Reuven Goldberg, Technology Coordinator at Hillel Torah.

After examining Jewish web sites the business meeting continued. There was discussion on the nomination of new officers and potential candidates for various positions.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Eva Eisenstein, Secretary
Librarian, Temple Sholom of Chicago

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Cataloging part 3

by Daniel D. Stuhlman

Principals of material classification

1) Place a book where it will be most useful. In both Dewey and LCC there is an ability to classify by form. Bibliographies of specific disciplines may be placed in the bibliography section or in the subject section for that discipline. Sometimes Library of Congress gives a choice for an item. The right choice for a particular library depends what is most useful for the collection and its readers.

2) Classify by subject, then form, except for literature, where form is most important. In literature sections works of imagination (i.e. novels and stories) are placed near literary criticism and works about the author) Examples of forms are: biographies, dramas, encyclopedias, indexes. The Generalia (i.e. encyclopedias and almanacs) class in classification schemes is arranged by form. The alternative is to put encyclopedias with the subject they cover. At one time all fiction was grouped by form. Now fiction is grouped by national group and period. A work of literary criticism or biography about an author is grouped near the books written by that author.

3) Consider the purpose of a book. Weigh what the author intended. Is the reader better served if the book is classified by what the author says the book covers or what the book really covers? Is the book on the topic or about the topic?

4) Place an item at the most specific call number that will contain it. If you have a work on a single book of the Bible, place it with that book. If you have a multi-volume work on all the books of the Bible place the set in a more general classification.

5) When an item appears on a subject that has no place in the classification scheme, determine the number to which it is most closely related and make a place for it. Place a book close to others on similar topics. For example: if there were no numbers for space travel; place them in astronomy.

6) When an item deals with multiple subjects choose the classification number in this order:

  1. -- Under the dominant subject (if it can be determined);
  2. -- If the item has only two subjects, classify under the first one in the work;
  3. -- If there are three or more subjects classify under a more general heading that covers all the topics. For example a book on Pesach and Shavuoth will be classed under the holiday that is more dominate or the first one in the book. A book that covers all holidays will receive a general holiday number.

7) When the topics covered in the book clash, make a decision based on the library collection as to which will prevail. For example a book on Jews in 1943 France may be placed with Holocaust books or books about Jews in France. The cataloger has to decide the classification number based on what the emphasis is in the book and what the emphasis is in the collection. A book on armed struggle in Latin American may be place in the history of Latin America or in the guerilla warfare section under military tactics.

Sometimes Dewey and LCC classifiers go in different directions. A book on the history of technology in the United States may be place in a technology section or in American history. This force of this rule is to remind us to be as consistent as possible, without falling into the trap of the foolish consistency of small minds.

8) Books pro and con on a given topic are placed within the same classification by the subject they are discussing. Books discussing both sides of a doctrinal issue on the same subject are placed together.

9) Avoid classifying books with class numbers that are themselves in the nature of criticism. Don't make the classification itself a commentary. Don't invent a number for "immoral literature" or "lies." However, a book written about lies could be classed under "lies."

10. Always have a reason to place a particular book in a class. The presence of a call number on another library's cataloging LC or any other authority, while important, is not a reason to accept without question. While the error rate is very low, sometimes errors are made. Classification schemes may have changed since the book was cataloged, or the approach of the first library may not fit the collection. Even though administrators may say the call number in an authoritative source should be accepted in the interest of economy, catalogers are less trusting.

11. Record all decisions. Consistency is important in any processing department. One can not depend on memory to handle similar books in the future. Expert, logical documentation helps prevent errors and contradictions in the future.

12. Check the new call number in the shelf list. The shelf list is the list of books in order they appear on the shelf. This checking will insure that the chosen number does not duplicate a previously used number and act as a double check. While this is a good idea, libraries do not always do this checking. If a shelver finds a book with the same number as one on the shelf, the shelver will tell the catalog department to change one of the items.

Choosing a classification scheme

Cataloging is a very expensive activity, but without cataloging no one will be able to find the books they need. Cataloging adds value to a collection. There is a big concern to provide the highest quality cataloging at the lowest possible cost. Cataloging and processing costs must not be a drain on the budget for other library services and purchasing. The library can not blindly adopt rigid assembly line processing. Some localization and concern for local needs add value to the collection for the readers. Librarians must keep in mind the total objective is a balance between cost, precision, and serving the readers. Cataloging is not the end in itself; reader service for current and future library users is the goal

In small libraries readers are less dependent on the catalog because their readers just browse the shelves. In large research libraries readers are very dependent on the catalog and its ability guide the reader to the materials they want. The function of classification in the larger libraries is to bring similar materials to-gether while acting as an address to store and retrieve the items.

The process of applying these rules is made after a "technical" reading of the book. Obviously the cataloger can not read the whole book before adding it to the collection, but the title can not be the sole source of information about the subject of the book. Both sides of the title page, the introduction, table of contents, indexes, and skimming of the book can give important clues for correctly deciding on the subject and classification of the book. Sometimes the title is very close to the subject of the book; sometimes the title is far removed from the subject. A book titled, Physics, is most likely a general physics books. A title such as, "The kettle and the rose," gives no clue as to the subject.

A classification system with wide-ranging support has the following advantages:

  1. Economic. A large number of users reduces the cost of maintaining a schedule and choosing numbers. A librarian can consult other libraries to view their cataloging. Only one cataloger needs to do the original cataloging. Using the classification from another library saves the cost of choosing. Because of the high cost of cataloging, sharing and co-operation is the only way library cataloging can be economically feasible.

  2. Expertise. The collective knowledge of many librarians is much greater than the sum of individual librarians. Even if the local library does not use the cataloging, the consultation is important. Consistency is very important in the creation of a data base.

  3. Public relations. Using a standard system and telling the public about it adds to the prestige of the institution. Even if the public never really steps into the library, people will feel proud that the library is following a standard and is part of the world of libraries. Someone familiar with the classification system can walk into any other library and feel comfortable.


Cataloging is the most important record and finding tool for a library collection. The catalog is the distinguishing feature that defines a library. Without a catalog we have a bunch of books. Cataloging is costly, but the dollar cost is a bargain. Without precise and accurate cataloging the readers will not find the materials easily.

Cataloging rules and their application change over time because knowledge is growing, changing, and developing. While cataloging has rules, practices and a legacy, the application of the rules is an art that requires the ability to balance the rules with experience and the needs of the library.

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Strategic Planning for Small Libraries

by Glenn Ferdman

"Strategic planning? Who has time for that?! The library is understaffed; I'm overworked, and overwhelmed!" Ring any bells? Been there, done that?! I'm going to answer a question with another: "Can you afford NOT to do strategic planning?" "Whhaat?!" you say. "I just told you, I don't have time to do that kind of stuff. Besides, strategic planning is only for bigger libraries--you know, academic and research libraries, not small libraries!"

Let's analyze these objections one at a time. Objection number one: I don't have time to do strategic planning. Our response is, given your limited available time, can you afford to waste time on programs and activities that don't meet the needs of your patrons? "I already know what my patrons want!" you say. Even so, do you have a written list of your patrons' favorite programs or activities? Have you prioritized that list, so that when faced with limited funds and limited time, you immediately know where your money is best spent? Should the funds be for new acquisitions (and which acquisitions), or new equipment! See? We've been discussing strategic planning without even realizing it!

What about objection number two: strategic planning is only necessary for larger, academic and research libraries? If the above paragraph has not already caused you to shift your attitude a bit, let me ask: do you report to someone? Do you ever have to build a case in support of your operational (day-to-day) or capital budget (one-time special purchase)? Or, do you always have enough money for whatever you need? Strategic planning helps define the nature and scope of the library's activities, determine priorities and helps build a "business case" for expenses. It does not matter how formal or informal the process is.

"Ok," you say, "you've convinced me that maybe I could benefit from strategic planning. But, what is it and how do I go about it?" Now that we're on the "same page," let's get a birds-eye view. Let's start by dividing the process into two parts. The first part consists of what we'll call the background information. This process has come to be known by the acronym "SWOT," which stands for "strengths," "weaknesses," "opportunities" and "threats."

The purpose of defining your library's SWOTs is to help you understand the institutional environment and factors affecting your ability to develop services and collections on behalf of your patrons. Let's begin with strengths. Maybe your library already has a strong collection of adult Jewish fiction. Identifying that will help you later on in determining your priorities. What about your library's weak-nesses? Is an underdeveloped budget one of them? If so, perhaps you'll want to make seek external funding sources a goal (part two of the process). Similarly, with opportunities and threats. Opportunities for your library could come from new lay or professional leadership or the possibility of joining the local library consortium whose resources you could draw from. External threats such as losing a funding source or space changes for the library collection, open new areas requiring planning to be able to continue serving your readers.

Now that we have gotten the "lay of the land," and have taken stock of our strengths and weaknesses, we can move on to the next step in the process, the planning phase. To begin with, we need to define who our library is and what we want to be. In short, we need both a vision statement and a mission statement for our library.

A good vision statement should be future-directed and slightly "out-of-reach" to give the library staff something to work towards. Here's a sample vision statement for a community center library.

The Ida and Morris Altgelt Library strives to become a primary resource for all things Judaica for the County area. Our library will take advantage of the latest available technology to provide Judaica resources, regardless of format, to our users. Our staff will be pro-active in their approach and will provide training and resource materials in advance of need and upon request.

The mission statement defines the community served and describes the way in which the library serves that community. For example:

The Ida and Morris Altgelt Library serves the center membership and their children by collecting and cataloging Judaica books, tapes and other media in support of their research, educational, spiritual and entertainment needs.

The next step in the planning process is to define the library's long term goals. They help determine how to allocate library resources. Setting and achieving measurable goals helps accomplish the library's mission.


Objectives are measurable specific targets that help you determine how you are accomplishing your goals. They are specific and should be time oriented (daily, weekly, yearly, etc).

For example.

Goal #1: Automate the library systems

Implementation establish the budget, time lines, work plans and milestones for each objective.

Example implementations: attend a libraries conference, survey colleagues regarding automation vendors, develop a list of automation needs and questions, apply for a grant.


Now that you've mapped the lay of the land and done your planning, it's time to do the actual work itself. Use your strategic plan as a guide. Involve your staff and other staff in your institution. Request feedback and solicit their ideas. Using the implementation part of the plan, monitor and evaluate the progress. Adjust your implementation scheme to meet the changing situations or circumstances. Lastly, good luck, as you proceed with your strategic plan to provide the best service and collection of materials for your users.

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Telnet sites for libraries with large Judaica collections

Address Name Sign on name
Louis.brandeis.edu Brandeis University louis
Aleph.huji.ac.il Hebrew University aleph
Hollis.Harvard.edu Harvard University hollis
Library.jtsa.edu Jewish Theological Sem. aleph
Locis.loc.gov Library of Congress [none]
Library.ohio-state.edu Ohio State University aleph
Library.princeton.edu Princeton University [none]

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Last revised July 14, 1999