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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 7:
What Steps Can the Library Take to Achieve Integrated Access to the Catalog and Other Discovery Tools?
Discussion Facilitator:
Sherry Vellucci
Associate Professor
St. John's University
32 Summerall Rd.
Somerset, NJ 08873


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.


The influence of information technology on the development of Web-based library catalogs has raised concerns among librarians about the role and function of the catalog in this new environment. A library's OPAC which once functioned as the primary local access resource is now just one of a number of access mechanisms available in the Web's global information system. What can the library catalog contribute in this complex networked system? In her paper, "The Library Catalog as Portal to the Web," Sarah Thomas examines the potential of the catalog to serve as a gateway to Web-accessible resources and what that would involve. She notes that one thing the catalog could never do is to function as the sole gateway to all Web resources. Rather than strive for comprehensiveness, she states the goal of the catalog must be to increase the ability of a community of users to meet their information needs by doing as much "one-stop shopping" as possible. She envisions accomplishing this goal through providing the user with integrated access to the catalog and other discovery tools, which would cover all kinds of formats and increasing degrees of granularity. In a related paper, "The Library Catalogue in a Networked Environment," Tom Delsey discusses the interface between the catalog and A&I databases, and raises some technical issues that would need to be addressed. He concludes that there is a need to retain and enhance to the extent possible those features of the catalog that have served over time to make it an effective tool for its users and that give it the potential to outperform other resource discovery tools in this new environment.


Present library Web pages, with some rare exceptions, provide direct, not integrated, access to networked resources. Typically, the pages will list the library's OPAC, electronic journal collections, and Web sites, along with other discovery tools (e.g., indexes and full-text databases), and options to access Web search tools and resources.. To conduct a search means that users must query each resource tool, a time-consuming and tedious undertaking to say the least. In this assignment, we are asking you to address this issue and recommend 4-6 specific steps that academic, research, and national libraries could take towards achieving integrated access to the catalog and other discovery tools in the networked environment. Such steps might explore the use of search engines, tools, and interfaces. They might also exploit the use of portal features that Thomas defines and describes in her paper. We feel these steps could prove especially useful as these libraries confront the challenges of providing more efficient and effective access to resources in the networked environment. Further, they serve to complement an important goal of this conference, which is to"support the development of mechanisms to facilitate efficient interfaces between the library catalog and other sources of metadata on the Web."


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 the library catalog in any of the other papers? Next, move on to identify potential steps that academic, research, and national libraries could take in the way of achieving integrated access to the catalog and other discovery tools in the networked environment.. By close of the meeting, you should have an extended list of potential steps for 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 that was drafted in the first meeting and extracting from it a list of 4-6 recommended steps.

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 recommended list for discussion and approval in the closing session of the conference. Conferees will use this list along with the 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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