Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

The Year's Work in Cataloging, 1999

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

The Year's Work in Cataloging, 1999

Article excerpt

The challenge of cataloging Web sites and electronic resources was the most important issue facing the cataloging world in the last year. This article reviews attempts to analyze and revise the cataloging code in view of the new electronic environment. The difficulties of applying traditional library cataloging standards to Web resources has led some to favor metadata as the best means of providing access to these materials. The appropriate education and training for library cataloging personnel remains crucial during this transitional period. Articles on user understanding of Library of Congress subject headings and on cataloging practice are also reviewed.


This review of the literature on cataloging for 1999 reveals a discipline in transition. The "Year's Work in Cataloging" articles that have appeared in earlier issues of Library Resources & Technical Services have been overviews of a relatively confined universe of print materials. Like them, this article surveys the many significant contributions to cataloging that have recently appeared in the print literature. It also, however, examines working documents publicly available on the Web that were created by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access (CC:DA), the Joint Steering Committee for the Revision of AACR (JSC), and by other bodies responsible for the creation of cataloging rules. The JSC is now in the process of making the most important revision to the cataloging code since the adoption of AACR2 in 1981. Without an examination of these materials it is not possible to fully grasp the scope of the major changes on the horizon in catalogin g.

The Internet, still a novelty in 1993 when the last "Year's Work in Cataloging" articles were published, has become the single most important phenomenon in contemporary librarianship. The pressure and problems of integrating Web materials into the library have changed the environment in libraries enormously, and the full impact and implications of the Web cannot at this juncture be accounted. The mercurial, infinitely flexible Web forces us to examine in depth all aspects of current cataloging, from the difference between monographs and serials, to the relationship of monographic materials to one another, to the continued viability of the Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) communications format, to the underpinnings of the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules themselves.


In response to problems with the code that have become more apparent in the current electronic environment, a number of researchers have attempted to examine the underlying assumptions and structure of the cataloging rules with a view toward establishing the foundations for "more logical and comprehensive cataloging codes" (Taniguchi 1999, 448). Taniguchi studies the structure of the rules using conceptual modeling. He analyzes a variety of cataloging rules, chiefly from AACR2, 1988 revision, chapter 1, in terms of whether the rules promote or "orient" toward cost-effectiveness, identity, contents, or consistency. Delsey's work, "The Logical Structure of the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules," is probably the most influential and comprehensive examination of the structure of the cataloging rules. Delsey stated, "the methodology used in this study is derived from techniques used in system development projects... entity-relationship and object-oriented models [which] are used as the basis for identifying the key entities or objects about which an organization needs to keep data and clarifying the data-related business rules that apply within the organization prior to designing the layout of databases to support the organizations' business activities" (Delsey 1998, 1). Sauperl and Saye analyzed previous research on the possibility of creating expert systems for descriptive cataloging and summarize the obstacles to the creation of such a system. …

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