Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Creating Bibliographic and Cataloging Standards and Developing Cooperation in Polish Academic Libraries after the Implementation of VTLS

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Creating Bibliographic and Cataloging Standards and Developing Cooperation in Polish Academic Libraries after the Implementation of VTLS

Article excerpt

The article discusses the process of creating bibliographic and cataloging standards, after the implementation of VTLS, in major Polish academic libraries. It examines the adoption of the USMARC format as a standard for the transfer of bibliographic data in Poland, and the editorial work of VTLS libraries resulting in publication of USMARC format manuals for Polish libraries. The question of authority control is studied, with special attention given to the creation of the ckhw (a common online authority database), which includes authority records for series, uniform titles, personal, corporate, and geographic names, and topical subject headings. The development of the KABA subject thesaurus, which is influenced by the RAMEAU and LC subject systems, is discussed, and the structure of subject authority MARC records, as used by Polish libraries, is examined. Finally, the effect of the VTLS implementation upon the establishment of national and local library consortia in Poland is considered.


Polish libraries have been greatly affected by the end of the Cold War. The collapse of communism gave them more freedom in building their collections and in providing access to previously banned materials. Major changes also seem to be taking place in the area of automation of library processes and computerization of libraries' catalogs. These phenomena have been possible thanks to the greater openness of the Polish market to Western European and American computer technologies as well as the generosity of Western, especially American, foundations.

In 1992 the Jagiellonian University Library, the Mining and Metallurgy University Library in Cracow, the University of Gdansk Library, and the Warsaw University Library decided to purchase an American integrated library system VTLS (Virginia Tech Library System).[1] VTLS was chosen because the company was able to present the most interesting and affordable offer to Polish libraries.[2] One of VTLS' main attractions was its support of authority control, which would allow Polish libraries to establish and maintain online authority files featuring author, title, and subject authority headings with cross-references.[3] Many in Poland considered it to be a vital part of an integrated library system. Polish librarians were also aware of other European libraries' positive experience with VTLS. By the late '80s the company had already implemented many sites in Europe including Finland, France, the Soviet Union, and the UK.[4]

By mid-1997 there were over twenty-two academic libraries in Poland using VTLS and eleven of them had their catalogs available through the Internet.[5] One of the biggest challenges facing these libraries has been the lack of "common library and network and access standards."[6] The implementation of VTLS enhanced cooperation between these libraries and led to the creation of common standards to be used in these institutions. The standards deal with bibliographic data exchange formats, authority control (name, title, and subject headings), and cataloging. The close cooperation between various libraries has taken the form of local and national consortia. These issues will be discussed successively.

Bibliographic Data Exchange Format

In the early 1980s the National Library in Warsaw developed and popularized MARC-BN (National Library MARC) as a standard bibliographic format. That changed once major academic libraries began to buy foreign integrated library systems (such as VTLS, PROLIB, Horizon, and INNOPAC) in the early 1990s. Since that time more and more libraries, including the National Library, have been using USMARC format for the creation of their bibliographic records.

The University of Warsaw Library decided to adopt USMARC as early as 1992. One of the major reasons justifying the selection of USMARC was the format's ability to link bibliographic records smoothly to corresponding authority records. …

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