Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

The Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules and Their Future

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

The Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules and Their Future

Article excerpt

The past, present, and future development of AACR2 is outlined with particular emphasis on the directions provided by the International Conference on the Principles and Future Development of AACR held in Toronto in October 1997. International cooperation as a sign significant element in the development and future of the code was highlighted. The Toronto conference, an invitational meeting attended by 65 cataloging experts, was undertaken by the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) as part of its ongoing mandate to respond to changing needs. Among the actions and recommendations resulting from the conference, the following were approved by JSC for immediate action: develop a mission statement for JSC; create a list of the principles of AACR2; pursue the recommendation that a logical analysis of the principles and structure on which AACR2 is based be undertaken; establish an AACR Web site; determine whether there are surveys on the use of AACR2 outside the Anglo-American community, and if no such survey exists, condu ct such a survey; formulate the recommendations on serials endorsed during the conference and introduce them into the revision process; publicize and reaffirm JSC policies, procedures, activities, and the current process for submitting rule revision proposals; and solicit a proposal to revise rule 0.24. The international conference has helped JSC to develop an plan of action, which will test the applicability of AACR in current and future environments and balance the need for a sound and workable cataloging code with the cost of cataloging and change.

The Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2) are situated in the midst of a continuum of constant revision. This revision has sometimes been sudden and jarring, and sometimes gradual. Smiraglia (1992) outlined the continuous revision process that is now in place for the coordination and development of the cataloging rules.

The continuous process of revision can be taken as far back as the 1839 rules developed by Panizzi for the catalogs of the British Museum. In looking at the sequence of major cataloging codes that eventually led to AACR2, we can see an early series of codes that were very much influenced by individuals (Panizzi 1839; Jewett 1853; Cutter 1876). Cutter (1876) included the statement of the objectives of the catalog that has been very important to the development of cataloging codes since then.

At the beginning of this century, international cooperation was introduced into the process of catalog code revision. In 1904 the American Library Association (ALA) and the Library Association agreed to cooperate on the development of a new code. ALA was in the process of a seven-year committee study that eventually began close communication with a counterpart committee in the United Kingdom that was also working on a revised cataloging code. Each of the two committees had a mandate to cooperate closely with a view to publishing a joint code. The British and American committees developed their codes separately, but endeavored to resolve all differences. Because of the distances and publishing requirements, the resulting joint code was published in distinct U.S. and British editions in 1908. In a 1910 review, Bolton said: "The day of standardization, of centralization, and of co-operation is rapidly dawning, and with these, conformity to prescribed rules and professional methods....will become all but compuls ory" (Bolton 1910, 389). Downing presented a very interesting perspective on the 1908 rules at the International Conference on AACR2 in 1989; he expressed amazement that seventy years later librarians were still pursuing the objective of standardization contained in Bolton's prediction (Downing 1980). I think it is still fair to say that now, ninety years later, we have not achieved the objective and are still striving toward it.

From 1901 when the Library of Congress (LC) began to distribute printed catalog cards, libraries recognized the great cost savings that could accrue by using LC's cataloging. …

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