Cataloging and Classification: Review of the Literature 2005-06
Magda El-Sherbini A., Library Resources & Technical Services
This paper reviews library literature on cataloging and classification published in 2005-06. It covers pertinent literature in the following areas: the future of cataloging; Functional Requirement for Bibliographic Records (FRBR); metadata and its applications and relation to Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC); cataloging tools and standards; authority control; and recruitment, training, and the changing role of catalogers.
The literature published in 2005 and 2006 devoted to cataloging and classification reveals a profession in transition. The future of the catalog and cataloging in the Web environment was the focus of severn important discussions, presentations, white papers, reports, conferences, and articles. Another topic attracting attention was the emerging new cataloging standard, Resource Description and Access (RDA). The great importance of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) was emphasized in a number of scholarly publications. Classification schemas, such as the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) and the Library of Congress Classification (LCC), continued as a topic in library literature. Other areas of interest included metadata, Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC) and the flexibility of Extensible Markup Language (XML), authority control, recruitment, training, and the changing role of catalogers.
A preliminary review of literature on cataloging and classification published in 2005 and 2006 was conducted in two library online databases: Library Literature and Information Science Full Text, and Library, Information Science, and Technology Abstract with Full Text. Other resources, such as the Web-based resources Google Scholar, Google Print, and Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) WorldCat, print library journals, and book reviews in library journals related to cataloging and classification, were also consulted. These resources were searched by keywords or subject headings, or both. The search strategy was limited to journal articles and books in English, and to 2005 through 2006 dates of publication.
The search produced a great number of citations (238 items). To deal with the volume of material and the range of topics covered, the author created a spreadsheet of topics derived from the preliminary literature search and the author's knowledge of the current trends in cataloging and classification. The author organized the topics into the following groups: future of cataloging, classification, Library of Congress (LC) series decision, authority control, FRBR, Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules 2nd ed., 2001 revision (AACB2), RDA, subject headings, DDC, recruitment, training, education, cataloging standards, ISBN13, and metadata.
Resulting citations were then entered under each heading in the spreadsheet. Citations under each topic were reviewed to determine if the sources of the publication were scholarly and peer reviewed. In limited cases, the author included non-peer--reviewed sources because they provided valuable and relevant information. Some topics, such as the LC decision about series and ISBN13, were not included because of insufficient scholarly literature.
The author read and analyzed the articles and wrote brief reviews for each item. Some articles fell outside the scope of this review and were excluded. The focus of this paper is on substantive contributions to the literature. In a few cases, less significant resources are referenced to provide a context for important themes covered during 2005 and 2006. Some articles may have been omitted unintentionally, for which the author apologizes.
The Future of the Catalog and Cataloging
The future of libraries in general and of cataloging in particular has been the focus of much of the research in recent years. Speculation about the directions that cataloging is taking, as well as suggestions for ways to revitalize and enhance the catalog and retool the cataloging workforce, filled the pages of many articles and reports in 2005 and 2006.
One of the more important contributions in this area was made by Calhoun, who prepared a provocative report for the LC addressing the function of the catalog. (1) She noted that students and researchers seem to bypass the library catalog in their quest for information. She provided detailed analysis of the current situation, options for revitalizing the catalog, an assessment, and action to be considered. The first chapter of the report includes background, project objective, and research methodology. Chapter 2 offers ideas about the prospects of the library catalog. The appendixes provide detailed analysis of the current situation, key findings from the literature, and structured interviews.
Not all of Calhoun's premises can be accepted at lace value or easily defended. When she states that "research library online catalogs reflect a small portion of the universe of scholarly information," the reader cannot help but wonder what that means. (2) Although conventional wisdom seems to suggest that library catalogs now represent a shrinking portion of the universe of information in general, much of the information that is obtainable online cannot be classified as scholarly. Calhoun's report raised many important questions and is of great value to library planners and managers.
A report prepared by the University of California Libraries Bibliographic Services Task Force also addressed ways to improve library online catalogs to meet the needs of modern users. (3) The task force analyzed existing literature and interviewed leading practitioners in the library community to develop a set of recommendations that would radically improve the catalog. The report provided four major recommendations to enhance search and retrieval, redesign the online public access cataloging (OPAC), adapt new cataloging practices, and support continuous development. An appendix listed examples of systems and prototypes that demonstrate some of the improvements that the task force recommended.
North Carolina State University was a leader in seeking new approaches to provide catalog information to users through the implementation of the Endeca ProFind platform. (4) Antelman, Lynema, and Pace described the new functionality enabled through Endeca and the implementation process and system architecture, assessed the new catalog's performance, and considered future directions. (5) The authors provided detailed discussion of the Endeca platform and its ability to provide access to a variety of formats and concluded that the software has potential for becoming a platform for library resource discovery.
Research methods employed by students and researchers and their preference for Google as a research tool was explored in an article by Marcum. (6) She addressed the future of cataloging in the Internet era and the need for improved indexing and retrieval tools. She raised the question of whether detailed descriptive cataloging is justifiable in the era of massive digitization and in light of the costs involved in the creation of detailed catalog records. This is likely to be an issue that will be discussed in the future.
Reacting to Marcum's article, librarians from Indiana University Libraries wrote a white paper on the future of cataloging at Indiana University. (7) They provided an overview of current trends in libraries and technical services, identified possible new roles for cataloging staff, and strategies aimed at revitalizing cataloging operations at Indiana University. Their well-researched and coherently organized report adds another dimension to the discussion of the OPAC. The report points to the new Google initiative aimed at digitizing large parts of academic library book collections and the impact this initiative might have on the future of the library catalog. This seems to be the key question that future library catalog planners have to take into consideration. Limitations of the OPAC have been a persistent topic in library literature. In "My Kingdom for an OPAC," Pace discussed limitations of the current systems and highlighted activities of some companies that are taking innovative approaches with the OPAC. (8)
A series of discussions on the American Library Association TechSource blog initiated by Schneider addressed obvious limitations of the online catalog and focused on the weaknesses in OPAC searching from the user's point of view. (9) In her first posting, she focused on the absence of relevance ranking in most online catalogs. In a subsequent posting, Schneider provided a checklist of some features that would benefit the OPAC. Among these features were ranking, stemming, field weighting, spell checking, refining original search, support for popular query operators, Boolean, flexible default query processing, in-line query limiters, duplicate detection, sort flexibility, character sets, faceting, advanced search, human suggestion, search logging and reports, and a well-rounded administrative interface. The third posting addressed the literalism of the catalog.
Numerous changes taking place in the library world in the last decade have had a profound effect on the library catalog. To address the impact of these changes on the fixture of bibliographic description, the LC established a working group to examine and discuss the future of bibliographic control. This working group was charged to
present findings on how bibliographic control and other descriptive practices can effectively support management of and access to library materials in the evolving information and technology environment, recommend ways in which the library community can collectively move toward achieving this vision, and advise the Library of Congress on its role and priorities. (10)
The working group organized the issues into three broad categories: Uses and Users, Structures and Standards, and Economics and Organization. The group submitted their report in January 2008.
Although some library authors perceive the future of the catalog as radically different from its current form and question the need for the standards and rules of cataloging, Tillett pointed out that the future of the catalog is in understanding and adapting the FRBR. (11) Tillett began her concise study with the discussion of the history of FRBRy and moved on to its application in cataloging. She suggested that "this model provides a new perspective on cataloging that should influence the design of future systems, cataloging codes, and cataloging practices." (12) She pointed out that libraries will continue to need codes and the new, revised AACR2, which will incorporate FRBR concepts. She described FRBR as a conceptual model of the bibliographic universe that is designed to meet specific user needs.
Hillmann focused her effort on the usefulness of cataloging and classification for research. She attempted to explain how these tools place information within a browsable hierarchy of subject concepts. (13) The National Library of Australia: Austrian Committee on Cataloging hosted a seminar, "Beyond the OPAC: Future Directions for Web-based Catalogues," with presentations and sessions on a variety of topics including making RDA the new cataloging standard; the potential impact of RDA on OPAC displays; applying FBBR to library catalogs; and managing OPACs. (14)
In her article on cataloging, Davis concentrated on the factors that contributed to the success of online libraries in the United States. (15) She suggested that the "employment of experienced and professional librarians can also improve operations in online libraries. Moreover, libraries should be incorporated with the school organization to enhance academic decision making." (16) Mann discussed the limitations of Google Print and how these limitations make cataloging and classification more important to researchers. (17) He pointed out that searching the Internet using keywords does not provide scholars with the structured menus for research options that are available in the OPAC browse display. Mann observed that searching Google is not the same as doing research.
Bair provided an important contribution to the profession of cataloging and to the body of literature on the subject of cataloging in "Toward a Code of Ethics for Cataloging." (18) Her article should be read by anyone interested in the profession. Bair provided an overview of publications on this subject and concluded with a proposed set of ten commandments of cataloging. This set of ethical guideposts sets out the responsibilities of each cataloger whose job is to provide unlettered access to information.
Changes in Cataloging Units and the Role of Catalogers
The future of cataloging and catalogers remained a focal point of discussion. The very purpose of cataloging was under scrutiny, as was the question of whether catalogers will continue to have a role in the future of information organization, especially in the metadata arena. The number of practicing catalogers is predicted to drop significantly in the next few years due to aging and retirement. In 2003, Wilder reported that catalogers in Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member libraries constitute one of the oldest categories of an aging librarian population and …
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Publication information: Article title: Cataloging and Classification: Review of the Literature 2005-06. Contributors: Magda El-Sherbini A. - Author. Journal title: Library Resources & Technical Services. Volume: 52. Issue: 3 Publication date: July 2008. Page number: 148+. © 1989 American Library Association. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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