Magazine article American Libraries

LC to Consider Cataloging Simplification

Magazine article American Libraries

LC to Consider Cataloging Simplification

Article excerpt

A concern on the part of Librarian of Congress James Billington over the complexity of cataloging has prompted anxiety in the library community over possible changes in the extent and emphasis of subject analysis at LC; however, LC administrators have told AL that current studies of the matter are simply part of ongoing efforts aimed at improving cataloging quality.

In a Nov. 30 e-mail memo to subject catalogers and department heads, Subject Cataloging Assistant Chief Regene Ross conveyed Billington's interest in cataloging simplification. "He reportedly concluded that the most effective way to achieve this would be by dropping all of the tracings at the bottom of the card-subjects, added entries, etc. . .. Because he personally retrieves material through author and title and not subjects, he questions the extent to which the library performs subject cataloging," the memo stated.

Ross added that the Collections Services staff, along with members of other departments, were preparing a response to tell Billington the degree to which subject access is used by readers and staff, and that the department would continue to look into ways to simplify cataloging without harming subject retrieval.

A second, clarifying memo was issued by Ross Dee. 4, stating that her earlier message "was interpreted in many different ways-some more extreme than I had intended or feel was warranted." She said that Billington had asked the department to examine the additional access points (other than author and title) to determine if they were necessary. …

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