Library Juice Academy: Library of Congress Classification Course

May 2023

I just completed the Library Juice Academy course, Library of Congress Classification, thanks to the generous professional development grant from CLRC.

As a paraprofessional with no formal education in cataloging, I learned most of what I know about cataloging standards and practices through on-the-job training with experienced cataloging librarians, exploring available online material, cataloging books, and training webinars. I took an Introduction to Cataloging course from Library Juice Academy six years ago. I learned basic cataloging concepts and a great deal of information that has been valuable in my job performance. After working as a copy-cataloger in an academic library for six years, I have faced many situations where it took time to understand how to assign Library of Congress call numbers and cutters. LOC Classification felt complex and granular. Though I could find enough information and examples to be confident in my decisions, gaining a better foundation would help my work. I had a wonderful experience with my previous course through Library Juice Academy. I am incredibly grateful that CLRC allowed me to develop my knowledge by taking the Library of Congress Classification course.

The professional instruction provided over the four-week asynchronous class included a weekly lecture, a variety of required readings, exercises and quizzes, and discussion forums. We explored many valuable resources that I had yet to use and had instruction and practice using them. We began with a basic understanding of how to assign the notation system to the subject content of materials. We built upon that by learning the class system, cutter number construction, and practicing using the schedules and tables. After reading about a topic and attending the lecture, which included many examples, I could apply the techniques introduced in the practice exercises. There were so many “Aha!” moments when inconsistencies in using rules previously unclear to me suddenly made sense after learning how and why they are assigned differently in different classifications.

The discussion forums, some with assigned topics and many introduced by participants were among my favorite parts of the class. People with distinct roles in several types of institutions (including a Shore Librarian for Semester at Sea!) had so much to offer about their experiences. We discussed bias in the LOC classification structure and subject headings, and the library staff and catalogers’ responsibility in creating change. We discussed ways the LOC system effectively allows users to find the necessary information and the conventions that make it very tricky and cumbersome. It was great to consider the different experiences and opinions people had. The instructor also provided feedback and advice from her experience.

The class was very productive because I better understood some specific rules and conventions in applying the LOC classification system. The course introduced me to reliable resources I will use in my work. Knowing how to find answers as questions come up is a valuable time-saver. There are some areas that I will dig into further now that I know where to find solutions. I loved getting a better foundation of understanding and am very grateful to CLRC for the opportunity to grow professionally.

Peggy Axel, Mohawk Valley Community College

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