Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

With Characters: Retrospective Conversion of East Asian Cataloging Records

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

With Characters: Retrospective Conversion of East Asian Cataloging Records

Article excerpt

Just as the automated cataloging of East Asian collections in North America lagged behind the automation of general libraries, so retrospective conversion (recon) of cataloging records in East Asian languages has lagged years behind retrospective conversion for material in other languages. While Schottlender noted that "the American library community has been actively engaged in converting its manual cataloging records to machine readable form since the mid-1970s," it was not until the late 1980s that recon at East Asian libraries began to occur.[1] In her survey conducted in early 1990, Tsiang reported that in 1989-90 only nine libraries and one consortium had either completed or started recon projects of their East Asian cataloging records.[2] Even though the number of East Asian libraries that have begun to convert their cataloging records had increased to twenty-four by April 1993,[3] that number constitute's only 40 percent of the total number of libraries reported as having an East Asian collection in 1992.[4] The restrospective conversion of East Asian collections is still a relatively new application of library automation.

Recon of East Asian library cataloging records completes the move into the mainstream of all library services and endeavors having to do with materials in East Asian languages. The genesis of the integration of East Asian cataloging into the mainstream of automated library processing began in 1983 with the introduction of RLIN CJK. Furthermore, as more and more East Asian cataloging records are converted into machine-readable form, the wealth of earlier East Asian scholarship is increasingly brought under better bibliographic control and made accessible for research both locally and globally

Very little has been written on the retrospective conversion of East Asian materials. I consulted Hseuh's study of the professional literature for 1980-90,[5] and conducted an article search through library journals for the period since 1990. To my surprise and dismay, I discovered only two articles that deal specifically math recon of East Asian cataloging records.[6,7] A few reports have been posted and shared on listservs (such as the Committee on East Asian Libraries' EASTLIB and the Research Libraries Group's East Asian Member Network [EAMEMNET]), but the majority of the efforts and valuable experiences of the twenty-four East Asian libraries mentioned above has simply not been made widely known through publication. It is my hope that in this report I can share some of my thoughts and, more important, the experience and findings that my colleagues have shared with me.


To facilitate a more meaningful discussion on recon at the Research Libraries Group's East Asian Studies Roundtable in March 1993, a survey was conducted and two written reports were submitted for posting on EAMEMNET.[8-10] A total of twenty-two responses from twenty libraries were received. Eleven libraries reported a recon project. Four of these projects were done by UTLAS and Retro Link Associates. The remaining seven were done in-house.

Reporting libraries gave a number of reasons for being able to undertake a recon project:

1. The decreasing number of new materials to be cataloged due to a reduction in the acquisitions budget

2. Participation in a librarywide recon project

3. The need to get fuller bibliographic records into a local online catalog to facilitate an integrated local system

4. The performance of recon on an as-encountered basis (e.g., when adding volumes or noting dead numbers) or when staff was available

The nine libraries that had not undertaken a recon project stated that a lack of funding was the main impediment.

Tsiang's report on East Asian recon included libraries that do not use RLIN CJK. Six libraries did recon under contract with a vendor, and four had in-house projects. The vendors selected were OCLC and Asian Shared Information & Access (ASIA). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.