There are so many standards in cataloguing for libraries- RDA, AACR, MARC21, Dublin Core, LCSH, LCNA, etc. Some are rules, derived from principles. Some are data standards. Some are encoding standards in systems. They are to answer one or more of these questions:
How to describe a resource (e.g. book)?
Where to find the information from the resource, and what is the best practice?
What are the necessary information you need to put in the description?
What are the standard terms you can use in describing certain data elements (e.g. subjects, names)?
All these rules and standards are the result of collective wisdom. The standards facilitate the exchange of information and records. This makes our work easier. We do not need to think hard to make many decisions. That is why sharing of works and decisions are the first value in cataloguing.
With so many standards, it takes years for individuals to become seasoned cataloguers. Sometimes, we even think whether it is necessary to put so much information in the records. But, there is always this ‘just in case’ worry in our mind. We have to prepare the data to satisfy the information needs of both internal and external customers. Many of these data are for our internal customers, for collection development, for management reports. Can we afford not to be comprehensive enough, not to be thorough enough. Who can answer this question? and how to draw the line?
We may not have the answers of the questions, but at least we should maintain local standards for consistency.