sponsored by the Library of Congress Cataloging Directorate
Sarah E. Thomas
201 Olin Library
Ithaca, NY 14853-5301
The Catalog as Portal to the Internet
About the presenter:Sarah Thomas came to Cornell University in August 1996 as the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. In a career spanning over 25 years, Thomas has cataloged books in Harvard University's Widener Library, taught German at The Johns Hopkins University, managed library coordination at the Research Libraries Group (RLG) in California, held a Council on Library Resources Management Internship at the University of Georgia, served as the Associate Director for Technical Services at the National Agricultural Library, and directed both the Cataloging Directorate and the Public Service Collections Directorate at the Library of Congress. At Cornell, she provides leadership for the 19 libraries that make up the University's library system, managing a staff of over 500 employees and 600 students. The Cornell University Library holds over 6.7 million volumes and acquires and catalogs over 100,000 titles annually.
Thomas has had a long-standing interest in information technology. She currently serves on the Executive Steering Committee of the Digital Library Federation, and she frequently speaks or writes on the topic of digital libraries. In May 1998, she was appointed a member of the New York Regents Commission on the Future of Library Services. She is a life member of ALA and serves as the chair of the Access to Information Resources Committee of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) as well as a member of the ARL Board. She is a member of the Board of RLG and serves on advisory councils to several university libraries, including Harvard, MIT, and Washington University. Thomas earned a Ph.D. in German literature from The Johns Hopkins University in 1983, writing her dissertation on the topic: "Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the Insel-Verlag: A Case Study of Author-Publisher Relations." She received her bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1970 and an MSLS from Simmons College in 1973.Full text of paper is available
Summary: For well over a century, the catalog has served libraries and their users as a guide and index to publications collected by an institution. Charles Cutter's principles--to enable a person to find a book of which either the author, title, or subject is known; to identify all the titles held by the library on a given subject or genre, or written by a given author; or to assist in the choice of a book by edition or character--still motivate the practice of cataloging and continue to offer a framework for organization that is relevant in the world of the Internet.
The attributes of the catalog that have made it a valuable resource are desirable traits in any information management tool. Library catalogs provide those consulting them with a degree of predictability, authority, and trusted selectivity. The Library catalog user has traditionally assumed that items listed in the catalog were carefully chosen to support an institutional mission and that they were available for her inspection. Internet portals, gateways to the Web, like the catalog, offer access to a wide range of resources, but differ from the catalog in a number of ways, perhaps most significantly in that they facilitate searching and retrieval from a vast, often uncoordinated array of sites, rather than the carefully delimited sphere of the library's collections. Web information has proven much more volatile, ephemeral, and heterogeneous.
Can we re-interpret the catalog so that it can serve effectively as a portal to the Internet? Is the catalog the appropriate model for discovery and retrieval of highly dynamic, rapidly multiplying, networked documents? Until relatively recently, the catalog has been the dominant index to published literature for library users. Web portals are rapidly usurping this primacy. Libraries today are struggling as they strain to incorporate a variety of resources in diverse formats in their catalogs and to maintain centrality and relevancy in the digital world. This paper will examine the features of the catalog and their portability to the Web, and will make recommendations about the Library catalog's role in providing access to Internet resources.
Brian E.C. Schottlaender, commentator
UCSD Library Administration
9500 Gilman Drive 0175G
La Jolla, CA 92093-0175
About the commentator: Brian E.C. Schottlaender is presently University Librarian at the University of California, San Diego. From 1993 to 1999, he worked at UCLA as Associate University Librarian for Collections and Technical Services, and served in 1998 and 1999 as Senior Associate to the University Librarian of the California Digital Library with responsibilities for primary content development. From 1984 to 1993, he worked at UCLA as, successively, Assistant Head of the Cataloging Dept. and Assistant University Librarian for Technical Services. From 1974 to 1984, he held positions at Firma Otto Harrassowitz in Wiesbaden Germany; Indiana University Libraries in Bloomington; and the University of Arizona Libraries in Tucson. A member of ALA since 1979, Schottlaender has served on the ALCT Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access since 1989 and chaired the Committee in 1992 and 1993. Since 1995, he has served as the ALA Representative to the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR (JSC). In 1997 and 1998, he chaired the Program for Cooperative Cataloging. Since 1999, he has served as chair of the Pacific Rim Digital Library Alliance. Schottlaender has edited two books: The Future of the Descriptive Cataloging Rules: Proceedings of the AACR 2000 Preconference (1998) and Retrospective Conversion: History, Approaches, Considerations (1992). He has contributed articles to various professional journals, including Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship and the Journal of Internet Cataloging, and has spoken widely on collections, bibliographic access, and digital library issues. He received his BA degree from the University of Texas, Austin, 1974 (ampla cum laude) and his MLS from Indiana University in 1980, the same year he was admitted to Beta Phi Mu. In 1995, he was one of fifteen individuals selected nationally to attend the Palmer School of Library Science at Long Island University as a Senior Fellow.Full text of commentary is available