On Pedantry and Cataloging. Part 2 / by Netanel Ganin

This is a follow-up to my previous post, where I reflected on the role of pedantry in catalogers.

I rosy-red glasses’d it.

Did I tell any overt lies? I hope not, but I certainly painted a very flattering portrait of myself as a noble cataloger while some hideous figure molders in my attic.

Let me remind you of my origin story — how I became interested in cataloging. There was a book on the shelf which seemed to me to be in the wrong place, I became a nuisance and eventually got it moved.

Now yes, you can argue that I was fulfilling the needs of the user which I waxed on about in the last post. After all, at that point I was the user! Moving the Iron Maiden book to be with its friends would’ve certainly allowed patrons to find them all together — but is that why I pushed for it? Is that truly the reason that it bothered me?

No. Or at least, not the whole reason.

Another story from my past:

In second grade I corrected my teacher (Mrs. Ruback! how are you? I’m doing well, thank you) on a minor “me vs. I” grammar usage. Yes, I was that kid — and I was him for a long time. My mom used to say they’d put “but I was right” on my tombstone.

I’m not going to go on a long psychoanalysis of why I get pleasure from knowing rules and correcting others on them. (N.B. to any psychologists out there, I’d be happy to be in an MRI machine and correct people for your study). To an extent, I grew out of that impulse. As I’ve said on twitter before, I’m a recovering grammar snob

This piece on literacy and privilege was an eye opener for me. I’ve learned so much since I was a young jerk (and older jerk) smugly correcting people while blissfully unaware (or more likely, willfully ignoring) that being ‘right’ is often reserved for those who are more privileged in one sense or another. After all, they’re the ones who make the rules.

To bring it back to cataloging.

I wrote many high-falutin’ words about the cataloger who is pure of heart and sure of deed, who only corrects others to ensure that the user will find all their resources…that may be more of a platonic ideal than the reality.

The truth is, when I get to bust out some persnickety particular of…



I know, big shocking news. I’m kind of a pedant, and I bet I’m not alone.

Though I am working on wanting to be ‘right’ for its own sake, I wanted to set the record a little more straight, and be a little more real about who and what I am.

I still stand by my words of what we should be, but I’m not there yet — maybe you’d like to walk with me?

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