Cataloging Fail

They're All Writers cover

“They’re all writers” : teaching peer tutoring in the elementary writing center

Jennifer Sanders and Rebecca L. Damron


Submitter: We are a University library, dedicated to Education curriculum and teaching methods. This title and subject are perfect for our students who are preparing to become teachers in the K-12 system. Unfortunately, someone needs to go over filing rules with the jobber who catalogued and processed this. Our call numbers use the first two letters of the author’s last name and the first letter of the title. Apparently “ counts as a letter now. I wonder if it files after @ but before *. Off to our in-house cataloguer for fixing and reprocessing.

Holly: I’m curious to know if this style of call number is standard practice anywhere else? Was it auto-generated and the computer didn’t know any better, or did someone purposely choose ” instead of T. Cataloging fail of a really useful new book, for sure.




  1. A different kind of cataloging fail — “Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Guide to All Creation” is about sexual reproduction in insects and animals. Whoever did the original cataloging failed to grasp that it’s more about evolutionary biology than about human sex. (Human sex plays no part in it.) I bet you can find it in your local library, as I did, shelved next to “The Joy of Sex”

  2. I’ve never heard of this style of call number cutter. Normally its the first 3 letters of the last name, the whole last name or using the Cutter-Sanborn table.

  3. If they cataloged anything with a * in it, watch out! That is the universally used wildcard symbol, so if the database entry form doesn’t run sanity checks, part of the catalog may be seriously messed up.

  4. Submitter here. It was a cataloguer at the jobber who blessed us with this cutter, Holly. We can’t blame a machine on this one.

  5. This would make a good example of how not to construct a call number for my students. Interesting cataloguing rule. In 25 years as a Librarian and part-time cataloguer I’ve never seen first two letters of author surname and first letter of title used. Here in Australia it tends to be first 3 or 4 letters of author surname or title if the title is the main entry.

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