Carleton and St Olaf share a catalog, so there are several working groups between the two schools designed to make this collaboration possible. I’ve been on the Public Access Working Group (which oversees the function and appearance of the catalog itself), and there are various other groups (Cataloging, Serials, Gov Docs, Etc.) that work to keep the two schools in sync as much as possible. And generally these divisions make sense. We either know what falls under our general purviews, or we know which other groups we need to work with to get a particular project done. My group, for example, often has occasion to work with the serials group and the cataloging group, since the catalog interface is fairly directly influenced by those two groups.
But every once in a while, these divisions are a little bit vexing. And no, it’s not when there’s a major issue that cuts across all of our areas of interest. That’s easy to solve: just call a mass meeting and make sure that representatives from each group are there. No, what’s vexing is when there’s a little problem, a little change, that could fall equally under the domains of half a dozen working groups. It seems like overkill to call a mass meeting, but lots of people need to know about the changes, and no one group is guaranteed to have a complete grasp on the issue.
Such is the case with a MARC field that was recently brought to my attention. It’s the 035 field, and we sometimes need it for gov docs so that MARCive records get overlaid properly.
But apparently it’s recently been reassigned by the people who assign fields in MARC, so now [See comments for clarification] It’s a “system number” full of what looks to me like gobbledygook. So, already this affects the gov docs group and the cataloging group, right? Well, in our case it also affects the Public Access group because the 035 field is set to display with the label “Gov Doc #” in our catalog. (See the bottom of this record, for example, or this record for a government document.) Each group thinks it’s somebody else’s issue, so none of us are thinking about it, but it’s such a teensy little problem it doesn’t seem worth the effort of organizing a meeting of all three groups. And the catalogers who are actually working with the problem didn’t really know who to talk to about it in the first place.
It’s it funny how it’s so easy to collaborate on the big issues, and so thorny to try it with the little ones?