The Future of Cataloging and Basic Values

Ana Lupe Cristán, Library of Congress

Frame 6. Librarianship is an international profession; technical services specializations have become globalized.

"We accept responsibility for being part of the international community. We are aware that major changes in policy and practice cannot be confined to our own borders. We understand that librarianship, including technical services librarianship, is not bounded by practices taken for granted in wealthy countries."
  • LC takes its commitment as a leader in the international library community very seriously. Where possible LC makes every attempt to accept invitations from international organizations or institutions in other countries to make presentations at conferences, provide training, or provide consultation in areas of preservation, digitization, and cataloging and we make every effort to send the appropriate person for the task. Every day the specialists in LC’s Cataloging Policy and Support Office provide detailed responses to individual queries on cataloging issues that come from libraries outside the United States as well as receive formal and informal delegations from around the world (e.g., the Swedes, Russians, Japanese). For some LC hosts them a couple of days for brief overviews of technical services but others come for extended periods of time as they work in specialized areas in the library. Often these interns or visitors include library school students as well as librarians and of course LC maintains offices in Cairo, Delhi, Islamabad, Jakarta, Nairobi, and Rio de Janeiro with most of the staff who work in these offices involved with library activities in those countries.
  • LC is keenly aware that its products are used worldwide and has made efforts to facilitate access to translations of its cataloging documentation; for example, many of the MARC 21 manuals for both authority and bibliographic record formats are available in Arabic, Catalan, Czech, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish . LC is currently working with a group of Latin American translators called Consejo Consultivo Latinoamericano para la Cooperación en Catalogación led by Ageo García at Tulane University that has as its goal to make available translations of relevant excerpts of LC cataloging products, especially those associated with subject cataloging (e.g., Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Heading H1095 “List of free-floating subdivisions and forms = Subdivisiones flotantes tematicas y de forma”). García is also responsible for the Spanish translation of the SACO Participant’s Manual as well as other LC cataloging tools used in the training of NACO participants in Latin America.
  • There are translation into Spanish and Chinese of CONSER documentation and serials training materials as well and because of my involvement in the ALCTS-PCC joint Task Groups I have been encouraging development of cataloging workshops to mimic the ALCTS-PCC workshops for use in both continuing education as well as in library schools. In 2006 CDS also reached agreements with institutions in the Middle East, Spain, and Greece for translation of the LCRIs into Arabic and Catalan and the LC Subject Cataloging Manual into Greek respectively.
  • The international arena is never far from the activities at LC. Dr. Barbara Tillett, Chief of the Cataloging Policy and Support Office, is very active in IFLA; she is the chair of the Planning Committee for the regional IFLA meeting of experts on an International Cataloging Code (IME ICC). Meetings have been held in Europe (Frankfurt), Latin America (Argentina), Middle East (Egypt), and Asia (Korea); the final meeting will be this year in South Africa (Pretoria). These meetings seek to analyze the worldwide use of cataloging codes, identify differences in practices and frame general principles to maximize existing practices and build consensus for future developments. There are other LC staff members who sit on various IFLA committees, and CPSO over the years has helped in the development and review of the various International Standards for Bibliographic Description (ISBDs) used by many countries as their descriptive rules.
  • Although one of the results of the IME ICC meetings has been the raising of awareness of changes in cataloging, more than anything they have helped to build collaboration and bonding amongst members of the library communities, both internally and externally. Specifically, in Latin America, the IME ICC has sparked a desire to build a stronger cataloging community within all the Spanish-speaking countries, and we have seen international conferences on bibliographic control held in Peru in 2005, in Mexico in 2006 and another scheduled for 2007 in Central America. These meetings have helped to raise awareness of current and future activities in the cataloging arena. Personally, I consider this a watershed breakthrough as it has been difficult to build bridges from one institution to another within each country; with these conferences we find that that not only are library leaders locally, regionally and nationally strengthening their ties but also that communication bridges are being built that span from Mexico to the tip of South America. Because most Latin American countries use translations of AACR2, these conferences have been an especially useful mechanism to apprise librarians of the imminence of RDA. It has also been an opportunity to discuss the challenges that technical services everywhere are currently facing and by doing so we have begun together to work to find solutions for making the cataloging workflows that underpin the organization and retrieval of information more efficient and effective within the Latin American context.
  • With regard to RDA, LC also plays a major role in the development of that set of cataloging instructions. Beacher Wiggins, LC’s Director for Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access sits on the Committee of Principals of AACR and Dr. Tillett is the LC representative to the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) and as such conveys the consensus of LC management and LC catalogers to the JSC for consideration in their rule making deliberations. Influenced by the work carried out by IFLA, building on the awareness that we have a responsibility to the international library community, and aware of the problems when implementing AACR2 in an international context (as discussed at the 1997 International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR in Toronto), LC has proposed changes to the text of the December 2005 part I draft that would make RDA open to use by any community with a context other than English language, other than Latin script, other than Western-style Arabic numerals, and/or other than Gregorian/Julian calendar. If these changes are accepted by JSC, LC will make similar proposals for Part 2 with regard to the instructions related to forms of name for persons, bodies, etc.
  • The Library of Congress has created bibliographic records with non-Roman data for many years-- using Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, and Yiddish characters. With the implementation of Unicode, CONSER records distributed by LC have recently expanded to include Cyrillic and Greek scripts. In the past few months, the Library has also initiated discussions with major authority record exchange partners (OCLC, British Library, National Library of Medicine, Library and Archives Canada) to outline the steps necessary to provide non-Roman data in authority records issued as part of the LC/NACO Authority File. Goals for this project will be to enable PCC libraries to add non-Roman variant forms to LC/NACO authority records, formulate guidelines for data content of non-Roman variant fields, and also to enable libraries the option to flag selected variants as the "preferred" non-Roman form. A proposed model for when and how to record non-Roman forms of established headings, and a timeline for including the data in NACO distributions are currently under discussion. LC and the NACO partners will release information on this timeline as it becomes available and long-range it is the expectation that national libraries that use non-Roman scripts as their official language will partner with LC/PCC to enhance these records and/or to provide links to authorized headings in their files.
  • And last (but not least) non-Roman script caption and headings are now being added to the LC classification schedules for examples Arabic names have been added in the area of KBP (Islamic Law), Greek names were added to PA3819 (Greek Lit. individual authors to 600 A.D.), and Chinese names (traditional and simplified) have been added to individual authors in BQ1100-3370 (Buddhism); KNN-KNQ (Law), and PL2661-2679 (Chinese Literature)

While this may appear to be simply a litany of LC activities I hope that in fact it demonstrates the level of commitment and the value LC places on its involvement and sense of responsibility to the global library community. But I remind you that libraries and especially technical services are but a microcosm of the universe in which we exist. Since the 90s we have seen many companies and institutions struggle to keep pace with the changing environment and diverse consumer base. It is my expectation that LC will continue to play a central partnership role in the library community and it is my hope that we will optimize our resources and products for use in the complex online environment and in this way continue to serve as a beacon for the international library community.