By PATRICIA GRAY
The Library's Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS), which, for nearly a century, has made LC cataloging available at modest prices to other libraries, will be reducing its product line in an effort to become self-sustaining.
Rapidly changing information delivery technology and the need to do more with less have caused belt-tightening in several areas of the Library.
By fiscal 1998 the division is expected to operate solely on income from the sale of library products. Now, about one-quarter ($2.4 million) of its current $8.6 million budget comes from congressional appropriation; that appropriation will disappear in two years.
Associate Librarian for Library Services Winston Tabb said that "CDS must operate on a full cost-recovery basis, as do the Federal Research Division, the FEDLINK operation of the Federal Library and Information Center Committee and the Library of Congress Sales Shop" All are part of the Library Services area of LC.
Although this reduction will take two years to complete, current plans are to reduce staff significantly and to discontinue some of the more costly products for which there is less demand.
Traditionally, CDS has produced bibliographic products for use inside the Library and has duplicated them for customers outside. Products have been available in various formats: print (cataloging manuals, technical documentation, cards) microfiche, Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) on magnetic tape or tape cartridge and, since the late 1980s, on CD-ROM.
Eight CD-ROM subscription services (the CDMARC product line) will begin their last year on July 1, and about 30 CDS employees will be displaced by Oct. 1, 1996 (the beginning of fiscal year 1997). CDMARC products (bibliographic and authority databases) are being eliminated because the Library no longer needs them for internal use and "because the cost of maintaining them is higher than the revenue we receive from sales," according to Tyrone J. Mason, chief of CDS.
These products are-CDMARC Bibliographic (and its two English subsets along with the Spanish/Portuguese subset) CDMARC Serials, and the Music Catalog on CD-ROM. The two authority-record products in this line - CDMARC Subjects and CDMARC Names - will also be discontinued.
"Before telecommunications eliminated their original purpose, these CD-ROMs were intended to replicate LC's online functions for the Library's overseas field offices. Updating these products quarterly is a huge task and has pushed our costs higher than we can recover from sales," Mr. Mason said. "Also, these are DOS-environment products, and to change the search software to accommodate other computer environments, for example Windows, would be prohibitive."
The last issues will be delivered to customers during the first half of 1997. Single issues of CDMARC products will be sold as long as supplies last, but no full-year subscriptions will be renewed after July 1996. All of the CDMARC annual subscription services provide four, fully cumulated issues, except for the Music Catalog on CD-ROM, which provides two. The final cumulation of the Music Catalog on CD-ROM will be available in late fall 1996.
Before fall 1996, CDS will provide customers with the names of commercial vendors offering similar products and services. Vendor names, solicited through an announcement placed in the Commerce Business Daily in May, will be supplied without evaluation or endorsement.
"CDS will continue to produce many products-particularly those most in demand by internal LC customers and nearly 30,000 external customers. For example, popular print publications will continue: Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), the LC classification schedules, Library of Congress Rule Interpretations, the Library's subject cataloging manuals, and USMARC format documentation." Mr. Mason said. CDS's external customers include research libraries, university and large public libraries, commercial and nonprofit organizations, and state and federal libraries.
MARC Distribution Services-both authority and bibliographic files-will continue. These are the source of many products from LC and from commercial vendors as well. The two new CD-ROM products: Classification Plus and Cataloger's Desktop will also continue.
Classification Plus was introduced early this year (see article on this page). It is a Windows-based, CD-ROM product containing LC classification schedules (added as they are reviewed and published through a new MARC-based system), as well as the full text of LC subject headings.
Cataloger's Desktop, the companion product to Classification Plus, contains 25 additional cataloging publications, including cataloging manuals and USMARC format documentation and the print publications listed above.
Purchasers of these CD-ROM products will be able to receive them as long as revenue meets or exceeds costs. Customer support for the Library's products will also continue, despite the reductions. Orders will be taken and questions about products answered through regular channels of communication - by calling (800) 255-3666 to place orders, faxing orders to (202) 707-1334, sending e-mail to [email protected] or writing to CDS Customer Support at 101 Independence Ave S.E., Washington, DC 20540-4910.
Within the year, operations will be further streamlined. CDS's oldest product, catalog cards, as well as its Select MARC Retrospective Conversion service will be discontinued. Feb. 28, 1997, is the last date CDS will take orders for MARC cards and for retrospective conversion.
Since it began in 1902 (as the "Card Section" of the Catalogue Division), CDS has duplicated the Library's catalog cards for sale to other libraries. Over the years, cards were produced at cost plus 10 percent. In 1968, at the peak of its card production, CDS sold 78.8 million cards, for a net revenue of $5 million. At that time, the Government Printing Office ran printing presses at the Library to produce catalog cards on 3-by-5-inch card stock. In the same year, however, Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) became available, and after that, sales of cards declined.
In 1995 CDS sold 724,000 MARC catalog cards, netting only $67,899 and representing a drop of 33 percent from net sales of $101,095 in 1994. In 1996 net sales of MARC cards are expected to reach only $40,000. "Despite the fact that LC will no longer offer MARC cards and retrospective conversion, many alternative sources exist commercially as a result of CDS's distribution of LC's source files via the MARC Distribution Service," Mr. Mason said.
During peak-production years, CDS employed about 500 persons. By the end of 1997 it is expected there will be approximately 40 employees - half the current number. Managers hope that changes in production methods will enable CDS to continue many of its products and services cost effectively.
An example of a new cost-saving approach at CDS involves Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), published annually in four volumes. As an economy move, the 19th (1996) edition was released in June only in soft cover. Paper and printing costs had dramatically increased in the previous three years, making the transition to a sturdy, but less expensive, softcover a necessity just to hold prices steady.
Reviewing the uses of LCSH also guided CDS in making this change. When the first edition of LCSH was published in 1914, five years intervened before a second edition was published, and another nine years passed before the third edition was published in 1928. However, beginning in 1989 with the 12th edition, LCSH has been published annually. On analysis, it was clear, the "Big Red Book" had a shorter shelf life than at its inception - a hardback cover was no longer essential.
"CDS's close look at existing products in light of new materials and technology could produce savings for the Library of Congress and the Library community, generally," Mr. Mason said. Changes in the use of online technology can now speed delivery of source records to customers such as bibliographic utilities, large library systems and commercial vendors. For example, the MARC Distribution Services (MARC records on tape or cartridge) may now be distributed by Internet file transfer protocol (FTP).
One such customer, OCLC, finds this new form of distribution helpful. Martin Dillon, director of OCLC's Library Resources Management Division, said; "Rapid availability of LC records is the surest way to lower library cataloging costs and _ FTP from the Library is a simple and direct way to decrease the time between LC's creation of a record and its use in libraries over OCLC's network."
As CDS continues to analyze its products and services, "we hope to better serve all our constituencies - both within the Library of Congress and in libraries throughout the country and the world," Mr. Mason said.
Patricia Gray is a Program Specialist in Cataloging Distribution Service.