My ALCTS Experience

Olivia Madison, Iowa State University

Little did I realize twenty-five years ago that when my close friend and mentor, Kaye Gapen, as Chair of the Cataloging and Classification Section, asked me what CCS committee I might be interested in, that the resulting appointment would influence my entire professional life. I browsed through the ALA Handbook and decided that, since I was a cataloger, probably CC:DA was of most interest. I was a newly minted cataloger, and I had no idea the trust that was given to me. Beginning with that initial appointment, my ALCTS experience has been a whirlwind, providing me with unforgettable adventures; close, lasting friendships; opportunities to explore and build upon my own leadership skills and scholarship; and opportunities to give back to my profession.

I could not have found a more exciting time to begin my ALCTS career back in 1981 than serving on CC:DA—first as a member, then as secretary, and then chair. Our primary responsibility was to advise the ALA representative to the Joint Steering Committee for the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules ( AACR). I remember fundamental discussions on whether microform copies of printed works should be described as microforms (following the rules) or as copies of their respective printed works; what some might have viewed as arcane discussions on music rules; and eternal questions over version control. Most memorable were the discussions on the evolving descriptive challenges for what were first known as machine-readable data files, or MRDF. The 1978 rules described these as “a body of information coded by methods that require the use of a machine (typically a computer) for processing.” The 1978 examples included punched cards with or without a magnet tape strip, punched paper tapes, mark sensed cards, and files stored on magnetic tape. Ann Fox, among many others, illuminated our discussions, as she did so throughout her lifetime. With the 1988 edition, AACR changed the name to computer files, and the discussions have continued ever since…

My CC:DA standards experiences next led me to the international arena of IFLA as an elected ALA representative to the Section on Cataloging. I experienced the honor of chairing the section, and serving as a member of the IFLA Division of Bibliographic Control. Without my CC:DA experience I doubt that I would have ever made that leap! With IFLA, my experiences expanded beyond AACR and the United States environment to a broad array of other national cataloging codes, foreign translations of AACR, ISBDs, UNIMARC, and ultimately to the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) as a member and then chair of its study group. My IFLA opportunities led me to enjoying an elegant and memorable late evening dinner in the Louvre, being enraptured with a Russian ballet and crossing military barricades in Moscow during the Russian Coup, having the opportunity to meet Cuban colleagues in the warmth and grace of Havana, enjoying the multi-cultural and mysterious world of Istanbul, etc., etc. As with ALCTS, I also now enjoy close personal friendships with colleagues around the globe.

As I review my vita, much of my scholarship emanates from my standards work through ALCTS and IFLA. My service in ALCTS later migrated to budget and governance as Chair of the ALCTS Budget and Finance Committee and leadership as ALCTS President. My budget and planning experience have helped me improve those same functions in my own library and participation in other organizations–whether professional or civic. Furthermore, my leadership experiences were of immense direct value as I took on leadership roles in my own work environment.

My ALCTS experience helped shape my entire professional career and provided me with a lifetime of continuing memories!

I now have the honor of chairing a planning committee to celebrate ALCTS’ fiftieth anniversary in 2007. My colleagues are Cynthia Clark, William Garrison, Nancy Gibbs, Bob Nardini, Genevieve Owens, Miriam Palm, Jane Treadwell, Kay Walter, and Mary Beth Weber.

Our Anniversary theme is:

Commemorating Our Past,
Celebrating Our Present,
Creating Our Future

Please note the following dates on your calendar! Confirming details to follow…

2007 Midwinter Conference in Seattle

  • “Definitely Digital: An Exploration of the Future of Knowledge”
    An ALCTS symposium planned for Friday, January 19, 2007
  • Kick-off reception for the fiftieth year of ALCTS
    Saturday, January 20, 2007 from 6:00-8:00 PM

2007 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

  • A gala ALCTS anniversary dinner, Thursday, June 21, 2007
  • An ALCTS conference planned for June 20-21, 2007