Friday, June 14, 2013

Things I Thought I'd Never Say Pt 1: I Wish I Had Paid More Attention in Cataloging Class

Yeah, go ahead. Let that one sink in.

I wish I had paid more attention in cataloging class. Now, to be fair, my cataloging professor was....eccentric. Yes, that's a kind way of putting it. But I was also starting to date a fellow who worked late and so I was up late too.

( Less sleep + Early Morning Job + Late Night Class)* Less than Engaging Material=Snooze
Author, as a blonde, in cataloging class

This sleeping in class is no good. Because while my professor was eccentric, what she was trying to get at (poorly) is what catalogers do (here are some compliments, catalogers, take note). Catalogers take very important resources (yes, that Lil Wayne album is an important resource to someone) and break it into tiny pieces. But these little bits of information aren't chosen at random. They are designed to help someone locate this resource and these little bits understand how all the information is related together, how it all hangs together and can be understood by anyone. (Library of Congress classification headings shall not be discussed). Cataloging allows information to be classified and retrieved by anyone. 

Ok, despite all of misgivings about that paragraph and what information means and how its too much of a catch-all for a variety of things, I am going to act like what I said above is true. Now, how does this relate to accounting?

One thing that accountants do is create a profit and loss statement (P&L), otherwise known as an income statement. This sheet is a small part of the general ledger which shows on a daily basis the cash flow of an organization. A P&L only shows one small part of that cash-flow. A P&L is created with receipts, bank statements and invoices. 
Sexy, sexy P&L. Although if I were that business, I might be concerned

So how is a P&L like a cataloging record? Because it requires looking at an item as a whole and breaking it down into parts. Is this invoice for a required part of business or an expansion or a repair? 

Like the little bits of a book (author, copyright, title, summary, subjects) placed into a catalog allow a book to be found by a patron, a P&L allows an accountant and a business owner to see a business from one way. The difference, I think, however, is that a catalog record uses one bit of information but isn't really used to see the whole; just locate the whole. A P&L is used to see how a business functions for a certain period of time as a whole. How much payroll is, how much was spent on repairs, how much was taken in as a whole as a opposed to a single day. P&Ls can be as detailed as one likes. Or a simple statement that shows income, expenses, cost of goods sold and overall profit or loss. It can compare months, weeks, years. 

But putting one together takes time and the ability to not only understand how an item should be classified but how the part relates to the whole. And maybe that's what was taught in cataloging class while I was sleeping. 

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