IFLA Section on Cataloguing

By Parent, Ingrid | Library Resources & Technical Services, July 2000 | Go to article overview
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IFLA Section on Cataloguing

Parent, Ingrid, Library Resources & Technical Services

"Why in the World?"

The Bibliographic Control Division of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) consists of three sections: bibliography, cataloging, and classification. The cataloging section, which focuses on descriptive cataloging, is one of the oldest within IFLA, having been founded in 1935 as the IFLA Committee on Uniform Cataloguing Rules. It became the Committee on Cataloguing in 1970. The committee played a key role in planning and convening the International Conference on Cataloguing Principles held in Paris in 1961 and the International Meeting of Cataloguing Experts held in Copenhagen in 1969. The Copenhagen conference provided the impetus to develop the International Standard Bibliographic Descriptions (ISBD). The Committee on Cataloguing established a systematic process for the revision of the ISBDs. The cataloging section focuses on traditional cataloging standards and on the impact of electronic resources and technology on these standards. The section has initiated several p rojects at the international level to facilitate access to information.

WhY in the world do we need an international committee on cataloging when we in the United States and Canada have our own very strong cataloging code and other bibliographic standards that we have developed? My objective here is to try and answer this question and to describe not only what the Section on Cataloguing does but why it has been and continues to be an important part of the cataloging environment.

But before I get to the Section on Cataloguing, I would first like to give you a brief overview of IFLA itself. IFLA stands for International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. IFLA's main objectives are to encourage and promote research and development in all aspects of library activities and to share its findings in order to advance the cause of librarianship worldwide. You can see from its name that IFLA is basically an association of associations and libraries. Of the 1,564 total IFLA members from 146 countries, only about 20% are personal members. There are 138 national association members and close to 1,100 institutional or library members (see figure 1).

While IFLA is perhaps not among the largest international organizations, it covers a lot of ground and deals with many topics of interest to the membership. Eight divisions coordinate the professional work of IFLA (see figure 2). These divisions are grouped by type of library, by library activities, by types of material, or by geographic divisions. Directing the work of the eight divisions is the Professional Board, which is composed of the chair of each of the divisions, along with a former member of the board as its chair, and the IFLA professional coordinator, who is situated at IFLA headquarters in The Hague.

Under the divisions are about 46 subgroups, including many sections and round tables. Division IV, Bibliographic Control, is one of the most homogeneous divisions. It consists of only three sections: the Section on Bibliography, the Section on Cataloguing, and the Section on Classification and Indexing. The issues that we deal with as catalogers are generally divided among these three sections, and the Section on Cataloguing focuses on descriptive cataloging. Even authority control does not entirely belong to the Section on Cataloguing. Its development internationally is under the responsibility of several sections and programs.

I cannot leave a discussion of the structure around bibliographic control activities in IFLA without mentioning the contribution of another part of the association's professional structure: the UBCIM Programme--the Universal Bibliographic Control and International MARC Office--which is one of five IFLA Core Programmes. The UBCIM Programme was formed in 1987 from the merger of the IFLA International Office for UBC and the International MARC Programme. The UBCIM Office is housed in Die Deutsche Bibliothek in Frankfurt, and the program officer is Marie-France Plassard.

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IFLA Section on Cataloguing


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