For immediate release | February 25, 2013

Tillett/Murray article wins ALCTS Outstanding Publication Award

CHICAGO — The Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) Outstanding Publication Award recipients for 2013 are Ronald Murray and Barbara Tillett for their article “Cataloging Theory in Search of Graph Theory and other Ivory Towers” published in Information Technology and Libraries, vol. 309, no. 4 (December 2011), p. 170-184.

The Outstanding Publication Award is an annual award given to honor the author or authors of the year's outstanding monograph, article or original paper in the field of technical services, including acquisitions, cataloging, collection management, preservation, continuing resources and related areas in the library field. Ronald Murray and Barbara Tillett will receive a citation and $250 sponsored by ALCTS at the ALCTS Awards Ceremony, Sunday, June 30, during the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

The intellectual content of this article is original and highly thought-provoking. The “re-visioning of cataloging theory” presented by the authors has important theoretical value because it suggests a new and multi-disciplinary method of resource description. Using an ethno-mathematical perspective of simple and complex resource descriptions, patterns have been created and the representations of these patterns as expressions of mathematical ideas are presented. The jury found this to be a really creative spatial way to look at the organization of our bibliographic universe. The article is also timely in that it comes during a period when the field of cataloging is undergoing a great deal of change.

Murray writes in discussing their article: “The FRBR findings, from having collided with reality in the form of existing cataloging records, generated data models that could be — thanks to what we know about Linguistics, Literary Theory, intellectual property rights, and the publishing industry — given a plausible theoretical footing and brought into dialog with points of view in the Sciences and Humanities.

“In our work, systems of descriptions (W E M I, etc.) are the “building blocks” for much larger-scale networks that possess characteristics nearly impossible to see at the level of an individual work. The “Moby-Dick” network we described only hints at what is out there (for example, see the Wikipedia entry "Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick).

“At the other end of the bibliographic universe, LLD (Library Linked Data) enthusiasts are intent upon breaking down library-forged systems of descriptions into reconfigurable RDF (Resource Description Framework) chunks that “may” be used for other purposes. From a LLD perspective, chunking “metadata” into Work and Instance modules represents an evolutionary step for the W3C approach them – but from our perspective, it is strongly devolutionary. Unfortunately, in the absence of implementation-independent ways of depicting and reasoning about resource description networks, this distinction is impossible to see.”

Ronald Murray is a digital conservation specialist in the Preservation Reformatting Division at the Library of Congress. He has published and presented widely in the areas of data modeling, digitization and FRBR. Barbara Tillett was the chief of the policy and standards division at the Library of Congress and is now retired. She is well known internationally for her work in the Cataloging and ILS arenas. Murray says that he and Tillett had been discussing many of the ideas in this paper since 1999. He has always considered his role to be that of a Boswell to Barbara’s Dr. Johnson; translating her and the library community’s insights into a form that engaged his long-standing interests in the physical and social sciences.

ALCTS is a division of the American Library Association.


Charles Wilt

Executive Director I

Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS)

800-545-2433 ext.5030