Bonnie Mak, Julia Pollack

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The catalog is a key mode of transmission in libraries and has long played an important role in the organization and circulation of knowledge. A library catalog provides a register of items in the collection by isolating resources as individual conceptual units and describing them. The descriptions, now called metadata, distinguish the items from one another and also build a network among them, thereby shaping how the materials might be used and understood. Naturalized over generations, the catalog has become invisible as a mode of transmission. The catalog is perceived to index knowledge while standing outside it. But as the interface between a user and a collection, the catalog is entangled in and as part of knowledge. The catalog offers a way to represent, find, and navigate a collection. And in so doing, it codifies a model for how the world can be described and how information about the world can be used, even now in the twenty-first century.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTransmissions
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Tactics for Making and Communicating Research
EditorsKat Jungnickel
PublisherMIT Press
Pages229 - 238
ISBN (Print)9780262043403
StatePublished - Apr 2020


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