Reports from 2001 IFLA Conference Held August 16–25 in Boston

Part 2

ALCTS sponsors representatives to seven sections of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA): Acquisition and Exchange, Bibliography, Cataloging, Classification and Indexing, Conservation, Serial Publications, and Statistics. Ten reports were included in the winter 2001 issue (; here is one final report.

Historical reports covering past IFLA conferences for these seven sections are located on the ALCTS Web site.

Section on Bibliography

John D. Byrum Jr., Library of Congress

This report is the last I will submit as an ALCTS representative to the IFLA Section on Bibliography, as my term of service came to conclusion with the Boston 2001 Conference. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Cataloging and Classification Section for its endorsement of my requests for support and the association for funding registration fees for eight consecutive conferences. During this period, I am pleased to note that the Section on Bibliography has reoriented its goals and objectives to focus much more on topics American librarians find of substantial and direct interest. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the number of catalogers and other professionals from the United States involved in the section’s activities, as members of the standing committee, as speakers and participants at the section’s open forums and workshops, or as researchers appointed to study and formulate recommendations concerning problems related to national bibliographic services and other matters within the section’s purview.

D. Whitney Coe (Princeton University) covered much of what the section accomplished during the conference in his earlier report, in particular, noting the section’s election results, summarizing the four excellent papers given at the section’s program meeting, and highlighting the section’s plans for next year’s conference in Glasgow, as well as sharing his overall impressions of his first IFLA conference. I will cover the section’s strategic plan for 2001–03 and its workshop.

Units within the IFLA structure are driven by the goals and action plans that define the framework for each unit’s activities during the period covered by its plan. This year, new rules were implemented to replace the four-year medium-term program with two-year strategic plans, a change recognizing the difficulty of projecting commitments too far into the future given the rapidly changing circumstances of modern day librarianship. Consequently, each section was required to fashion a strategic plan for 2002–2003, with goals and action items justified in accordance with the recently issued IFLA professional priorities. Within this background, the Section on Bibliography’s standing committee crafted a document that establishes seven overall goals. They are:

  • Take appropriate action to encourage implementation of the recommendations of the International Conference on National Bibliographic Services (ICNBS)
  • Promote creation and improvement of bibliographic information and the use of international standards and guidelines
  • Promote cooperation with the publishing industry in the preparation of bibliographic information
  • Monitor and promote publication of bibliographies in electronic form (e.g., on the Internet)
  • Monitor and promote the inclusion of Internet resources in bibliographies
  • Provide information about the work of the section and its standing committee
  • Promote membership in the section, emphasizing a broader geographic representation on the standing committee

Some twenty specific activities have been identified in the strategic plan to support these goals. Although these are too numerous to be repeated verbatim, some examples will highlight the section’s future efforts. The section plans to disseminate the recommendations of the ICNBS to national bibliographic agencies (NBAs), encouraging the NBAs to review and implement them. Bibliography will actively publicize the reports of the Bell-Langballe working group concerning effective national bibliographic services and the Knutsen report updating the 1996 Holley survey concerning national bibliographies and analyzing the new data. (Both reports are briefly described below.) Further work in this area includes: setting up a working group to investigate development and update of guidelines, with examples and references, to help the NBAs start or improve bibliographic services; supporting the continuing harmonization of MARC formats; and seeking to identify consultants, funding opportunities, and staff exchanges to assist national bibliographic agencies that wish to improve their services. The section intends to appoint a working group to develop and test a strategy for enlisting publisher cooperation in providing metadata for electronic resources they produce and assist NBAs in how best to prepare entries for these resources. It will also create a working group to investigate development of guidelines for publishing bibliographies in electronic form and appoint members to collaborate with the Section on Classification and Indexing’s effort to investigate “subject gateways” as an emerging technique for producing bibliographies of Internet resources. Another working group will be established to investigate development of guidelines for selection criteria to assist NBAs in deciding which remote electronic resources to represent in their bibliographies. These and other aspects of the strategic plan will soon be posted on IFLANET for further information.

The Section on Bibliography also sponsored a workshop with the Section on National Libraries on “What Makes a Good National Bibliography Even Better? Current Situation and Future Prospects.” Fernanda Guesdes de Campos (Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal) and I hosted this half-day event that covered the findings of a recent study of the status and trends concerning production of national bibliographies throughout the world, with particular attention to their conformance with and implementation of recommendations produced by the Copenhagen 1998 International Conference on National Bibliographic Services. That investigation was the result of work by Barbara Bell (College of Wooster) and Anne Langballe (National Library of Norway). In addition, representatives of three national bibliographies selected for some exceptional accomplishments—Swaziland, South Africa, and Sweden—reported on their accomplishments and the measures taken to realize them. Information was shared regarding the October 2000 International Conference on National Bibliography in a Changing Information Environment in Tallinn, Estonia. In addition, a 1996 survey by Unni Knutsen regarding impacts of new technology on production and distribution of national bibliographies was presented, followed by a paper on legal deposit issues given by Marianne Scott, former National Librarian of Canada. Finally, there was a thought-provoking presentation on uses and usefulness of national bibliographies presented by Marcelle Beaudiquez (Bibliothèque nationale de France), who is considered by many as the most authoritative source on this topic.

Questions for the speakers and participants included:

  • What trends are evident for national bibliographies today?
  • How can we ensure that NBAs implement measures to ensure the preservation of their bibliographies, for example, through use of materials such as acid-free paper and ink when printing a national bibliography? For national bibliographies in a nonprint format, what should be done to ensure that the national bibliography is preserved for a specific time period, for example, for the year 2000?
  • What makes a legal deposit law effective? When does a legal deposit law need to be updated? How does an NBA influence change for new legal deposit legislation? Are there ways in which publishers and NBAs can work together to have an effective and efficient legal deposit system?
  • Timeliness of entries in a national bibliography and the timeliness of a national bibliography and its distribution are important issues that have not been solved for some NBAs. How can a NBA work toward efficient and effective timeliness and delivery of the national bibliography?
  • Are we giving helpful information to a user? How is a national bibliography used?
  • In using a national bibliography what access points are needed to aid a user in an electronic environment? Is a user guide needed? What are points to consider in presenting a user guide to a database?
  • What are the prospects for providing free access to national bibliographies now or when soon available on the Internet?
  • How can we encourage countries with no national bibliography to consider the importance of their country’s publications and getting this bibliographic information available to users? When would a regional bibliography be more useful to consider than a national bibliography?
  • In what ways should an NBA cooperate and collaborate with other bodies regarding the national bibliography? When does it make sense to collaborate? Are there other ways to assist NBAs to achieve greater compliance with the ICNBS recommendations?
  • How important is authority work in producing a national bibliography?

The full texts of the presentations are available at event number 199 on IFLANET and will also be published in one or two issues of International Cataloguing and Bibliographic Control, beginning summer 2002.

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