Library of Congress
Pinyin Conversion Project

General Outline

Table of Contents

Romanization Guidelines

Advance copies of new Chinese romanization guidelines based on the pinyin system were distributed to institutions and organizations in November. The guidelines were decided upon after lengthy deliberation. The new guidelines will generally follow standard Chinese pinyin romanization procedures, with certain exceptions. Words of non-Chinese origin will be romanized systematically in all cases. Tones will not be indicated. The Library will continue its practice of separating individual syllables, except in the cases of personal names, geographic locations, and certain proper nouns. This approach can be conveniently and consistently applied to the full range of Chinese texts, and helps assure that converted LC records will maintain their consistency with those found on both utilities, and with newly created records. OCLC users may continue to separate individual syllables with a space, while RLIN users can maintain their practice of connecting certain syllables with a joining character. The separation of syllables should also facilitate international exchange of Chinese bibliographic data in the future.

The new romanization guidelines will appear in the next ed. of ALA-LC romanization tables.

Prepare and Test a Conversion Program

The Library of Congress and the Research Libraries Group (RLG) have begun working together to prepare for conversion of Chinese records in the RLIN database to pinyin. An implementation timeline has been agreed upon for certain aspects of the conversion project. It is now anticipated that Chinese records in the RLIN database, including Library of Congress Chinese records, will be converted sometime during the year 2000. After conversion, the revised LC records will be distributed by CDS.

The Library proposed program requirements, and has begun to also draft program specifications. The draft specifications will be sent to RLG, where a conversion program will be prepared and tested. The final conversion specifications will be made public after they have been thoroughly tested. The conversion program will perform as much of the conversion as possible. Hopefully the program will also be able to change headings for the most frequently used Chinese conventional place names. Library staff have begun compiling a test file of Chinese bibliographic records.

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Subject Headings

The Library's Pinyin Task Group has begun to identify and assess the many effects of pinyin conversion on subject headings and classification schemes. Subject cataloger John Topping has conducted a systematic search of the subject authority file to locate subject authority records which contain terms in Wade-Giles romanization. He has evaluated most of these subject headings, and indicated where he believes a heading should be converted or not converted. In early March 1999, his recommendations were submitted to CPSO for evaluation and final decisions.

Mr. Topping has proceeded under the assumption that virtually all terms established in vernacular Chinese from vernacular sources, and romanized systematically, will be converted. In instances where Chinese terms were established from old, pre-pinyin sources, the form of word found in those sources will be retained as a cross-reference. Mr. Topping has carefully investigated headings for ethnic peoples and languages to assure that only Wade-Giles terms which were derived from vernacular Chinese will be converted to pinyin. He has encountered several problems which will require additional research and consultation with CPSO.

The Library intends to pursue cost-effective approaches to pinyin conversion. Insofar as possible, subject headings will be converted by computer program.

Classification Schedules

Major changes are being anticipated in the DS, G and PL schedules. Class numbers will be retained whenever possible, and the reference structure will be utilized in the classification schedule to lead the user to the proper location. Senior Cataloger Thomas Tsai is identifying portions of the classification schedules which will have to be changed, and preparing for those changes, in consultation with CPSO. Topics in the schedule that include terms that convert from Wade-Giles form to pinyin will be changed, while those that do not change will have pinyin x-refs. added. After decisions have been made on conversion of subject headings, work on revising the classification schedules will move ahead. The plan is to have these changes approved and ready for dissemination on or about Day 1.

For Chinese literary authors in the PL schedule, the Library plans to end the most recent time period this year (1949-1999); in a new time period, beginning with the year 2000, cuttering will be based upon the new pinyin system of romanization. Mr. Tsai's has proposed adjustments to the time period (1949-1999), and for the new time period (2000- ).

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Chinese Conventional Place Names

In early 1998, the Library announced its intention to change headings for conventional Chinese place names to reflect contemporary usage, as approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN). The Library conducted a pilot project to ascertain how much time changes might take, and to come up with an efficient workflow.

LC Rule Interpretation 23.2 will be revised in the Cataloging Service Bulletin no. 83, Winter 1999, to remove all Chinese place names from the list of conventional headings. The bulletin will announce that more than 80 headings for provinces, provincial capitals and major cities will be revised to reflect current usage.

Once the headings for a geographic name has been changed, related authority records (on which the name has been used as an entry element or qualifier) will also be revised. Changes to LC bibliographic records will follow. The classification schedules for DS793 and DS796 will be revised to reflect these changes.

Because such a large number of bibliographic records will require maintenance, the Library hopes to update access points for many of the most-used headings (such as Peking and Canton) as part of the machine conversion of bibliographic records to pinyin, and the related file maintenance step.

CAUTION: Please take care when constructing and using headings for Chinese place names. After the heading for a place has been changed, all new cataloging should use that form. When a municipality and populated place have the same name, the heading for the populated place will be established, with a reference from the name of the municipality. Headings for most provinces, small cities, counties and towns will continue to be romanized in systematic form.

Once the heading for a place has been changed, a certain period of time may elapse before related headings can be brought into conformity. In constructing or using headings for Chinese place names, take care to consult the name authority file and use the established form for the geographic location.

Some of the place names are romanized in Wade-Giles form, but most of the names being changed are romanized in a form that predated the official adoption of the Wade-Giles scheme in the 1950's. As these changes are made, an increasing number of headings for jurisdictions will be romanized in pinyin form, while the subordinate units will continue to appear in Wade-Giles. Whether these primarily pre-Wade-Giles headings were changed before the subordinate bodies or after, a certain period during which there would be a discrepancy in romanization schemes on these authority records was inevitable. We anticipate that this period will continue until pinyin conversion of the authority file has been completed. Also, until bibliographic file maintenance can be completed, there will also be inconsistency between forms found in the name authority file and those appearing on bibliographic records.

A special Chart has been created on the CPSO Home Page to provide up-to-the-minute status reports on changes to headings for Chinese conventional place names. Please refer to this chart throughout this period of transition for information about our progress in bringing about these necessary changes.

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ILS Implementation

The Library's new Integrated Library System (ILS) will be fully operational on October 1, 1999. More detailed plans for conversion of authority records and bibliographic file maintenance will be made after the Pinyin Task Group has had a chance to investigate the ILS's capability to convert authority and bibliographic records.

Information Dissemination and Training

The Library will make every attempt to provide pertinent documentation, as well as timely information and updates about the conversion project, in the following locations:

Later this year, the Pinyin Task Group will begin planning how staff members should be trained to deal with the conversion. Information on the new romanization system, along with conversion charts, will be made available to Library users after Day 1.

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Conversion of Bibliographic Records

The Research Libraries Group (RLG) will convert all Library of Congress Chinese language bibliographic records that reside in the RLIN database. RLG has supplied the Library with lists of book and non-book material appearing on RLIN. The Library will then compare these results with lists of Chinese records in its own database, identify records that are not on RLIN, and move them there.

RLG plans to convert Chinese records in its database beginning in spring 2000. Insofar as possible, Wade-Giles syllables in Chinese records will be converted by the computer program to corresponding pinyin forms. The conversion will probably be accomplished by batching and then converting Chinese records by library identifier, according to a certain order of precedence. RLG estimates that it could take several months to convert all of the Chinese records in the RLIN database.

The Library's Cataloging Distribution Service will probably distribute converted bibliographic records in one or several large batches. The Library will provide subscribers with advance notice of the distribution of these converted records.

Day 1

As soon as it can be realistically determined, the Library will announce Day 1 for pinyin romanization. On that day,

Several possible Day 1 scenarios have been discussed. Day 1 could occur at about the time that both the Library's Chinese records and name authority records (NARs) representing access points on those records are converted. However, should conversion of NARs prove to be a very time- consuming process, Day 1 could occur immediately at the beginning of, or immediately following conversion of bib records. Then, pinyin would be used to create catalog records and new name authorities while the conversion of the NAF proceeds.

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Conversion of Authority File

Here is an outline of preliminary plans for conversion of the authority file. After the automated conversion program converts a bibliographic record, it will compile a list, or lists, of access points. The list may include such information as the old and new forms of the heading (if the heading has changed), or just the heading itself (if it has not changed). The lists will be weighted from headings with the most hits to those with only one hit.

Non-unique names which have converted would have to be identified first and separated out for human review. Then, if it proves to be feasible to do so, the remaining weighted list of headings that have converted will be run against the authority file. These changes would occur: the new converted form of heading would replace the old Wade-Giles form, which would be retained as a cross-reference. If a pinyin cross-reference exists that exactly matches the new heading, it would be deleted. Other references would not be affected.

Again, these are the preliminary plans for conversion of the authority file, as of March 1999.

After the Library's new Integrated Library System (ILS) has been installed later this year, experiments will be conducted to help determine the best way to proceed with the conversion of authority records.

File Maintenance

Name Authority File: Procedures will have to be developed to assure that authority records for related headings which are not included on the list of access points (such as uniform titles by personal authors, or certain subordinate bodies of headings that have converted) are also located and converted. As a lower-priority project, authority records for the unconverted headings could be reviewed to see if pinyin x-refs. might be needed.

Bibliographic Records: The most important aspect of bibliographic file maintenance (BFM) will be the conversion of access points on non-Chinese bibliographic records in the database. For example, after the headings for Mao, Tun, 1896- have been converted to Mao, Dun, 1896- on bibliographic records, the authority record will be converted in the same way. Then, the heading for Mao, Tun, 1896- on the bib record for Midnight, the English translation of Tzu yeh, will be changed to Mao, Dun, 1896-, and the uniform title will be changed to Zi ye.

Human ingenuity, along with the capabilities of automated systems, will determine how the appropriate records can best be located and converted in different databases. Factors such as institutional priorities and workforce availability will influence when BFM might be accomplished.

Records for both name authorities and bibliographic records which are changed during the file maintenance step will be distributed through normal channels by the Cataloging Distribution Service.

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