Catalog Search

Fran’s Last Day

Having been an employee of the Falmouth Public Library for a good long time, I can barely believe that our cataloger, Fran Bordonaro, is retiring today.  It seems to me she just arrived about four years ago, but in fact I remember her office from the days of the old red carpet building (as I think of it) and I remember her from the garage her department lived in when we were in temporary quarters at Carlson Lane while the building was being renovated, and most recently in her shiny new office in our renovated building. Fran has been with us for fifteen years. You might never have even seen Fran, because she works downstairs in the technical services office just before you get to the Children’s Room, and is not often seen on a pubic desk. Just because you haven’t met her, doesn’t mean that she hasn’t been an extraordinarily important part of your library experience. Fran is the person who is the Queen of Cataloging, and decides where that book or CD or DVD etc. is going to live in the library. She also decides if that novel you have in your hand should really be in the Science Fiction or Mystery or Western sections of the library.

I am not a cataloger, but as a reference librarian, I depend on Fran and her staff to make sure that books etc. that belong together, stay together. Fran has also been unbelievably generous about moving items around when a member of the reference staff decides that a book really belongs in a biography number rather than a science number or that something else really should be a part of our Local History collection and not in the circulating collection. She has also been very involved with the CLAMS Bibliographic Committee. (You might not know this, but CLAMS is a real organization with lots and lots of real committees and meetings that all work together to bring you the online library catalog.)

For those of us who last cataloged a library book when we were getting our Masters in Library Science, we have enormous respect and appreciation for what catalogers do. We’re happy to know that 641.5 is where we can find the cookbooks, but beyond that we know little about cataloging, and are in awe of the magic work of catalogers. I recently found a good description of what they do:

“Unlike what you may think about cataloging, it’s not a tedious, never-ending life of rote application of rules and punctuation.  Catalogers get to see the library’s most interesting materials and have to figure out a) what this thing is, b) who might find it useful, and c) how to make sure they find it.  Yes, you need to know the rules, but the trick is in knowing which rule to use when and how to apply them to the thoroughly bizarre item that’s sitting on your desk.  There’s a lot more thought involved than deciding whether to use a colon or a semicolon, and being a good cataloger actually involves a lot of creativity.”

If you want to see an ace cataloger, today is the day to do so, and you’ll find her in her office just before you get to the Children’s Room, no doubt trying to do as much as she can do today, so that you can find your the book you want when you come in next week. Or you might just find her in the stacks looking at 332.024 PAS. We wish her a very happy retirement, and look forward to greeting her as a library patron in the near future.

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