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Bicentennial Conference  on 
        Bibliographic Control for the New Millenium: Confronting the Challenges of Networked 
        Resources and the Web
sponsored by the Library of Congress Cataloging Directorate
Topical Discussion Group 6:
What Automated Tools Could Assist Libraries to Meet the Information Needs of Their Users?
Discussion Facilitator:
Robert Wolven
Director of Bibliographic Control
207A Butler Library
Columbia University
535 W. 114th St.
New York, NY 10027

The Conference topical discussion groups are for the purpose of identifying recommendations made by the speakers and commentators in their presentations and for developing recommended actions and an overall action plan for discussion and approval by the Conference in its concluding plenary session. Each topical discussion group consists of a facilitator who, with a designated number of participants, is assigned a specific topic related to the presentations that will serve as the focal point for identifying recommendations and deriving recommended actions and an overall action plan. Each group will also have an LC staff member to take notes and capture highlights throughout the discussion.

In a few cases, topics for the topical discussion groups are assigned to address short-term and long-term directions. We have defined "short-term" to be a recommendation of an action that is "doable" in the range of 12 to 18 months, and "long-term" to be recommendations or actions accomplished within 2 to 5 years. These definitions have been applied only in addressing the topics on cooperative partnerships and AACR2.


The explosive growth in the availability of networked resources on the Web far surpasses the ability of academic and research libraries to organize and manage it. Even considering only what is determined to be valuable or relevant, these libraries lack the prerequisite resources, human and machine, to provide extensive control and access to these materials. In addition, they find themselves under increased pressure to lower costs in their operations, which has particularly affected their budgets for hiring and retaining staff. For these libraries to meet the information needs of their Web users, then it is incumbent that they further explore the development and application of automated tools.

Until recently, libraries have utilized automation to accomplish routine clerical tasks, such as circulation. Reference, selection and cataloging, including description and subject assignment, have been considered intellectually demanding tasks, which have been the domain of skilled professional staff. However, it is in these areas where these libraries need to re-think their operations and services. Some progress has been made.. Notable in the area of cataloging is OCLC's CORC project, which was initiated in 1998 and provides libraries with an automated toolkit to describe and access Web-based resources. Another example is the Nordic Metadata Project , which has focused on building Dublin Core-based tools, including templates, to automatically create and index a variety of metadata. These projects, along with BIBLINK, ROADS, and DESIRE are discussed in Jane Greenberg's paper "Experiments to Facilitate Improved Access to Web-based Resources." Examples of automated indexing, such as the recent LEXIS/NEXIS project and OCLC's Scorpion are discussed in Lois Chan's paper on "Exploiting LCSH, LCC, and DDC to Retrieve Networked Resources." Outside of library initiatives, there is considerable commercial activity among vendors and technology firms, who are exploring the development of automated tools to extract relevant information and to create specialized subject indexes and databases. As in the case of all these examples, the development of automated tools has been driven primarily by the burgeoning content of the Web.


In this assignment, we are asking you to develop a prioritized list of 4-6 recommended tools for further automating resource organization and discovery on the Web. Such tools may embrace the application of artificial intelligence, new or existing software, or software that is yet to be developed. This list has obvious importance for the academic and research library community, but we also think that it would be of interest to the broader metadata community, which has spearheaded a number of the initiatives mentioned above. Further, it would support an important goal of this conference, which is to foster the development of software (e.g.. templates, intelligent agents) for use in generating library resource descriptions.


Your topical discussion group is organized into two parts to cover the two Conference days in which you meet.

  1. The first meeting is in the afternoon of Day 2 of the Conference. The objective of this meeting is to have you brainstorm your topic by sharing your thoughts and ideas in an informal discussion. Your facilitator will serve to direct the discussion and to keep it focused and moving. An LC staff member will be present to record major points of discussion.

    Follow the lead of your facilitator in determining the format of the discussion. Then start by identifying any suggestions or recommendations offered by the speakers, commentators, and participants on your topic. In addition to the papers noted above, was there any further discussion of automated tools in any of the other papers? Next, move on to identify possible automated tools that could be used to generate resource description and discovery on the Web. Discuss the purpose of these tools and the areas for which they are intended. By close of the meeting, you should have an extended list of tools along with their purpose and areas of application to review on the following Day 3 of the Conference.

  2. The second meeting begins in the morning of Day 3 with the facilitator and LC recorder present. Time spent at this meeting is focused on reviewing the list of automated tools drafted in the first meeting and extracting from it a list of 4-6 recommended tools, together with their purpose and areas of application, arranged in priority order. In the course of determining this list, consider these questions:

    1. Does the list identify specific automated tools that would assist the academic and research library community in generating or enhancing resource description and discovery on the Web?

    2. Do these tools exist, or would they need to be developed?

    3. What is the purpose of each tool, and in what area of library operations would it have its greatest impact?

    4. What cooperative partnerships might the library explore to facilitate the development or application of these tools? What groups or organizations might commit their resources or support?

Once you have finalized the prioritized list of criteria, the LC recorder will input it to a computer and a Powerpoint presentation will be created for your facilitator to present to conferees.

Presentation and Action Plan:

Your facilitator will present the prioritized list of automated tools for discussion and approval in the closing session of the conference. Conferees will use this list along with the prioritized recommendations presented by the facilitators of the other topical discussion groups to develop an overall action plan that the Library of Congress can carry forward from the Conference.

Library of Congress
October 22, 2000
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