No more cookery

Taxonomy and taxonomic labeling can be a minefield. Just tagging your blog postings turns out to be a wretchedly complex task, since the categories are always evolving and you invent new labels as you go; it can then be hard to find your own postings on various topics, if those postings come from before the categories had evolved and the labels were assigned. Similar problems in organizing the files on your computer: what folders, with what labels?

But for library people it’s a monstrous problem. As I discovered yesterday, during cocktail hour with four Stanford colleagues who work in various parts of the library system. They reported on the long task of revising catalogue entries to conform to a Library of Congress decision last year to replace the older COOKERY category by one labeled COOKING.

Here’s the 9/18/09 proposal for the Revision of Headings for Cooking and Cookbooks:


Headings for cooking and cookbooks are currently separated into the following categories:

1. General works on cooking and recipe collections, including works on cooking, cuisine, and food preparation, general cookbooks, and general collections of cooking recipes.

2. National and ethnic cuisines and styles of cooking. Examples: Cookery, Chinese–Sichuan style; Cookery, Cajun.

3. Specific ingredients or foods, including headings for the food product itself as well as headings for that product as an ingredient in cooking. Examples: Bread (used for bread-making); Cookery (Bread) (used for cooking with bread); Jelly (used for jelly- making); Cookery (Jelly) (used for cooking with jelly).

4. Recipes for special types of diets. Example: Sugar-free diet–Recipes.

5. Recipes associated with specific institutions or organizations. Examples: Four Seasons (Restaurant); Tavern on the Green.

6. Other special aspects of cooking, including method of preparation, type of meal, or category of food. Examples: Clay pot cookery; Brunches; Passover cookery; Cooking for two.

The use of the term “cookery” will be discontinued in these categories of headings. The term “cooking” will be used instead in most cases. Treatment of materials in categories 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 (above) will be essentially unchanged.

Over 800 headings for cooking and food-related subjects were affected.


One Response to “No more cookery”

  1. F. Escobar C. Says:

    This is OT, but what you’ve said makes you wonder how far back we can trace that impulse to create categories, or even if it’s built into us. I heard Ian Angell claim recently that it was part of our cognitive apparatus, but experts on ancient Mesopotamia (e.g., Raymond Westbrook) have long claimed that such analytical categories don’t even go as far back as ancient Mesopotamia. People from that region bequeathed us the earliest known form of writing, and they were allegedly list-oriented, quite different from our fondness for abstract categories. The same categories, I mean, that often create the kind of mess you’ve described quite well. As I said, OT.

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