Cataloging Advisory Committee, Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA)

cc: Cataloging Policy and Support Office, Library of Congress
Date: May 31, 2006
Subject: The Library of Congress decision to cease series authority work

The Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) Cataloging Advisory Committee (CAC) protests the Library of Congress's recent decision to cease series authority work. While recognizing that the nature of cataloging is changing and that the Library of Congress (LC) is trying to re-engineer its operations for the future, the CAC regrets the manner in which the decision was reached and announced. LC's decisions affect the entire cataloging community in the United States, and to some degree even beyond U.S. borders. There was no consultation and no thought to the impact this decision would have on cooperative cataloging and on other cataloging constituencies.

The CAC does not agree with LC's assessment that series titles are not important access points requiring controlled access. Art researchers, scholars, curators, and bibliographers do search for series, and this decision will place a burden on them to do the work that authority control provides. In addition, in some libraries' online catalogs, the decision never to trace series will render series virtually invisible due to indexing limitations. The establishment of series titles on the authority level, where the information can be readily shared with thousands of libraries, is more efficient than fixing individual bibliographic records in individual library catalogs.

The CAC believes LC's decision demonstrates a disregard for the principles expressed in IFLA's Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), by ignoring the user tasks of find, identify, and select. Any collocation of series into work, expression or manifestation clusters would be more difficult without uniform access to series headings. At the most basic level, it will hinder the ability of users to find known items. LC's decision militates against the promise FRBR holds for making it easier for our users to perceive bibliographic relationships. It particularly disturbs us that the national library of the United States of America, considered a leader and entrusted with the nation's information stewardship, appears poised to abandon FRBR principles at the very time when the worldwide cataloging community is embracing FRBR in development of new cataloging codes and library systems.

Respectfully submitted,

Kay Teel, Chair, Cataloging Advisory Committee, Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA)