Two separate worlds, one shared goal: An exploration of special collections catalogers’ reporting lines and institutional organization

Colleen W. Barrett, Whitney A. Buccicone, Joseph J. Shankweiler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Cataloging has long been considered a fundamental component of special collections work. Beyond the ability to constantly adapt to new technologies and content standards, special collections catalogers also deal with special collections specific issues, from fragile or poorly preserved materials to the need to learn item-specific terminology, like binding descriptions, to larger security concerns. By existing within the two worlds of both special collections and technical services librarianship, there is not always a clear answer to where and whom a position should report. The institutional role and best reporting structure of the special collections cataloger has yet to be well-defined, categorized, or understood. This chapter seeks to better understand and quantify some of the challenges current special collections catalogers face through conducting and analyzing the authors’ recent survey of special collections catalogers primarily working in American cultural heritage institutions. While these findings are neither simple nor straightforward, it is possible to suggest some preliminary solutions. Overarching trends and challenges included communication between departments, security of valuable materials versus workspace locations, and priority setting.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Library Administration and Organization
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Library Administration and Organization
ISSN (Print)0732-0671

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Emerald Group Holdings Ltd.. All rights reserved.


  • Best practices
  • Cataloging communication
  • Hierarchy
  • Library management
  • Reporting structures
  • Special collections cataloging
  • Special collections libraries
  • Technical services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Library and Information Sciences


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