Report on Cataloguing 2007

Back to the Basics and Flying into the Future

Alison Hitchens, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON Canada

On February 1-2, 2007, the Icelandic library community hosted an excellent international cataloguing conference in honor of fifty years of library science education in Iceland. Conference participants came from over thirty countries, with speakers from seven countries. The national librarian, Dr. Sigrún Klara Hannesdóttir, noted that despite their reputation, cataloguers have proved to be adventurous people who are "willing to brave the wilds of Iceland in winter."

The presentations can be roughly divided into three categories: updates on activities in the cataloguing community (e.g. FRBR, RDA, ICABS, etc.); discussions of projects at the national level in Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Britain to improve access to resources; and updates from vendors on how their products are meeting user needs. Power Point presentations can be found at http://ru.is/kennarar/thorag/cataloguing2007/.

The keynote address was given by Dr. Barbara Tillett, Chief of the Library of Congress Cataloging Policy and Support Office, who expertly and with enthusiasm covered a range of related topics including FRBR, the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF), IFLA work on an international cataloguing code, and the development of RDA. Of note is the information that RDA's creators are already considering the training needs of cataloguers and will be building training elements into the web resource as well as speaking to library associations about training opportunities. The VIAF is of interest to any who need displays in multiple languages and scripts. Renate Gömpel of the Deutsche Nationalbibliotek also covered international bibliographic control by highlighting the work of ICABS, the IFLA-CDNL Alliance for Bibliographic Standards.

It was interesting to learn of projects at several national libraries in response to cataloguing models and user needs. Caroline Brazier of the British Library discussed process re-engineering of the cataloguing area and what is being done to create efficiencies while making best use of professional skills. She discussed fast tracking materials, batch loading of records, and quality control projects. Her presentation also included a discussion on what cataloguing and the library catalogue need to become. Sigrún Hauksdóttir of the Icelandic Library Consortium gave an interesting report on the creation of Gegnir, the Icelandic union catalogue, its challenges and how it affects cataloguing practices in Iceland.

Trond Aalberg, associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology discussed a project that used existing MARC records from the BIBSYS catalogue and the FRBR model to improve the display of search results. He emphasized the need for systems people to understand the cataloguing rules that created the data in order to properly manipulate the data. He showed how certain cataloguing rules and time-saving policies hindered an automated approach to "FRBR-izing" catalogue data. The Danish Library Agency also looked to FRBR to improve the catalogue, and consultant Erik Thorlund Jepsen reported the results of that project. The agency took a different approach in the Danish union catalogue by collocating "on the fly" when a search is performed rather than running a large conversion project to identify relationships. Search results are grouped using a matching algorithm based on the FRBR model. Other types of bibliographic relationships are also being explored.

Finally, the vendors were given the opportunity to show how their products are serving our library users. John Espley from VTLS showed how Virtua incorporates the FRBR model to simplify cataloguing and to enhance grouping of search results for end-users. As an added benefit, library users can place holds at the work/expression level when they are not looking for a specific manifestation. Judy Levi of Ex Libris offered a demonstration of Primo, the new product that searches a library's ILS as well as digital repositories and journal databases by harvesting data from various sources, normalizing and enriching the data, and then feeding it into the searches. This allows users to search all library resources in one interface.

Thank you to the organizers for creating a well-rounded program that attracted library people from around the world. For those of you who did not have the chance to attend—print out the Power Point slides, fly to Iceland, and read the notes while relaxing in the Blue Lagoon!