LC Cataloging Newsline

Online Newsletter of the Cataloging Directorate

Library of Congress Volume 8, no. 12 ISSN 1066-8829 December 2000


Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium
The Library Catalog and the Web
Assessing Current Library Standards for Bibliographic Control and Web Access
African American Subject Headings

Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium

The Library of Congress Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium attracted one hundred thirty-six leaders in cataloging and library systems to the Library Nov. 15-17, 2000. This invitation-only conference had two goals: to develop an overall strategy to address the challenges of improved access to Web resources through library catalogs and applications of metadata and to identify attainable actions for achieving the objectives of the overall strategy. The conference featured nearly thirty papers, including a keynote address, an after-dinner speech, four discussion papers that were posted on the conference Web site to give all participants a shared background, sixteen papers delivered by speakers at the conference plenary sessions, and prepared remarks by seven panelists reacting to the presentations. The plenary sessions were organized under five major topics: The Library Catalog and the Web; Assessing Current Library Standards for Bibliographic Control and Web Access; Future Directions; Experimentation; and Exploring Partnerships. (See summaries of the plenary sessions in separate articles in this and later issues of LCCN.) After hearing the papers and panelists' reactions on these topics, the conference participants divided into eleven breakout sessions, or Topical Discussion Groups, to draw up recommendations for addressing eleven major challenges for bibliographic control in the digital age.

The Cataloging Directorate planned the conference to honor the Library during its bicentennial year. Both the program and the participant list testified to cataloging's past achievements, as a number of former Library of Congress employees attended, including former associate librarian Henriette Avram; former directors for cataloging Lucia J. Rather and Sarah E. Thomas; and William Gosling, William Moen, Arlene Taylor, and Sherry Kelley. At the same time, the conference was intended to help the Library of Congress and the entire bibliographic control community prepare for the future, and in his opening remarks on Wednesday morning, Nov. 15, director for cataloging Beacher Wiggins noted that in many respects, the conference planners had anticipated the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences report LC21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress.

The conference received major financial support from netLibrary, EBSCO Information Services, and the Gale Group, with additional support from other library vendors and publishers: 3M Library Systems, Blackwell's, Blue Angel Technologies, Bowker, Brodart, Epixtech, Ex Libris, H.W. Wilson, Ingram Library Services, MARCIVE, OCLC, Inc., VTLS Inc., Wiley, The Library Corporation, and the Library of Congress Cataloging Distribution Service. The Conference Organizing Team (COT) was chaired by Regional and Cooperative Cataloging Division (RCCD) chief John Byrum. Other COT members were Cornelia Owens Goode, cooperative cataloging program specialist on the Cooperative Cataloging Team, RCCD; Bruce Johnson, senior library information systems specialist and leader of the Cataloger's Desktop/Classification Plus Development Team in the Cataloging Distribution Service; Judy Mansfield, chief of the Arts and Sciences Cataloging Division; David Williamson, cataloging automation specialist for the Cataloging Directorate, and former LC cataloger Ann Sandberg-Fox, now an independent library consultant and trainer, under a contract with the Library.

Keynote Address

Michael Gorman, dean of library services at California State University, Fresno, gave the keynote address, "From Card Catalogues to WebPACS: Celebrating Cataloging in the 20th Century," an overview of the development of library catalogs in the 20th century from his perspective as one of the editors of AACR2, the Anglo- American Cataloguing Rules, Second Edition, which LC applies in accordance with an international agreement that includes the national libraries of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Gorman said that in this "century of erratic progress in cataloguing," the story of cataloging is the story of standards and of the means by which catalog records are communicated. In a resounding endorsement of cataloging standards, he reminded all participants that "effective cataloguing involves controlled vocabularies and adherence to the standards that have evolved in the past 100 years."

Video and Gala

Conference participants enjoyed the world premiere of the video "How the Web Was Won," produced by Joan Biella and videographed by Henry Lefkowitz, both senior catalogers on the Hebraica Team, RCCD. The heroine "The Website" was played by cataloger Robin Dougherty of RCCD's Middle East and North Africa Team. Other stars included senior cataloging policy specialists Lynn El-Hoshy and Kay Guiles of the Cataloging Policy and Support Office, with their acting division chief Tom Yee; Coop Team members Sami Kotb and John Mitchell; and many members of the Special Materials Cataloging Division. Much of the music consisted of lyrics by Hebraica Team cataloger Peter Kearney, set to melodies from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta H.M.S. Pinafore.

The conference gala dinner in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building on Thursday evening, Nov. 16, featured Clifford Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, as the after-dinner speaker. Lynch defined bibliographic control as support for "finding things" and suggested that the public was willing to underwrite libraries and related services because they want to "find things." He saw the application of the human mind to organize and describe material as a well-established and honorable tradition. Looking to the new millennium, he said, there is no doubt that the vast majority of works to be created will exist in digital form, and we will need to be able to apply new tool kits to these works. Lynch concluded that the context of bibliographic description is different now, and we ignore the context at our peril.

Calls for Action

Each conference participant chose a topical discussion group (TDG) that met in breakout sessions to address a major challenge facing catalogers and their allies in the vendor and publisher communities. On Friday, all the participants reconvened in a final plenary session to hear all the discussion groups' recommendations. Highlights of the recommendations included: Create a national/international database of standard records for Web resources; define core competencies for catalogers in the digital age; involve the library community in the development of the publisher metadata scheme ONIX to ensure that it meets the needs of both communities; create a long-term research and development program, including partnerships with publishers and registration (standard numbering, etc.) agencies; develop a strategic plan for the continuing development of AACR; promote semantic and systems interoperability; develop a metadata creation tool that authors can use to help with bibliographic control of their works; create a definable access framework for integration of traditional catalogs, abstracting and indexing services, and other databases; improve and promote standard metadata schemes; and hold open and ongoing meetings at American Library Association conferences with catalogers, reference librarians, vendors, systems people, publishers, and administrators to ensure that reference librarians' needs for resource description are heard. One TDG presented a general approach to solving that thorny, enduring problem, "multiple versions." The recommendations have been edited and circulated for comment from all conference participants via email.

The conference Web site at URL // contains the conference program, background discussion papers, conference presentation papers, and biographies of the speakers. In early January the Topical Discussion Groups' recommendations will be mounted on the site. The Web site also includes access to a Webcast of the actual conference. The full conference proceedings will be edited for publication in late spring 2001. Meanwhile, Library staff will prioritize the dozens of TDG recommendations in order to develop a plan of attack for implementing them.

The Library Catalog and the Web: Topic 1 of the Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium

This session was grounded in the discussion paper "Metadata for Web Resources: How Metadata Works on the Web," (URL: by Martin Dillon, former executive director of the OCLC Institute.

Sarah E. Thomas, University Librarian, Cornell University, spoke on "The Catalog as Portal to the Internet" (URL She contrasted the traditional library catalog, with its strengths of reliability, consistency, authoritativeness, and assurance of ready and ongoing availability of the materials represented in it, and Web portals such as Yahoo! which have the strengths of currency, scope, customizability, relevance ranking, and hotlinks to the actual resources. She proposed that the library catalog be adapted to serve as a scholarly and authoritative portal to research- quality Internet resources. She said that in order to gain resources for controlling content on the Internet, libraries ought to reduce the amount of time spent in cataloging books, and she challenged libraries to begin by redirecting ten percent of their cataloging resources to the control of digital content. Finally, she called for cataloging agencies to collaborate more and to become assertive advocates, through advertising and published research, of the value added by the catalog.

Tom Delsey, director general, Corporate Policy and Communications, National Library of Canada, discussed "The Library Catalogue in a Networked Environment" (URL an overview of how technology has changed the relationships between the library catalog, the catalog user, alternative sources of bibliographic data, and the resources described in the catalog. Delsey said that changes in approach will be needed in order to maintain and enhance the effectiveness of those interfaces in an evolving networked environment.

Priscilla Caplan, assistant director for digital library services, Florida Center for Library Automation, spoke next on "International Metadata Initiatives: Lessons in Bibliographic Control" (URL She described the Text Encoding Initiative Header, Encoded Archival Description, Dublin Core, and VRA (Visual Resources Association) Core, all specialized metadata schemes, but predicted that the INDECS (Interoperability of Data in E-Commerce Systems) project and other "schemes coming out of the publishing community ... may ultimately have the greatest impact on traditional bibliographic description ... The INDECS model is essentially a semantic model for describing intellectual property, the parties that create and trade it, and the agreements that they make about it." Caplan's Three Laws of Metadata are: metadata schemes differ because needs for description differ; metadata has a life of its own; and metadata schemes without content rules are not very useful. She urged the library community to work with publishers to develop shared standards for metadata and warned that libraries have to "bend so we don't break!" She stressed that the key issue is control of all resources, analog and digital, in a Web-aware environment.

Brian Schottlaender, University Librarian, University of California, San Diego, was the panel reactor for Thomas's paper. He analyzed her paper as a set of eight yes-or-no propositions. He agreed with her that libraries should create and manage a mechanism to support access to Internet resources, but did not agree that the catalog should serve as a portal to the Web or that libraries should reduce the amount of time they devote to cataloging books in order to free up time to control Web resources. He also perceived the question "Are cataloging tools appropriate for description of Web resources?" and gave a nuanced yes-and-no answer. He agreed with Thomas's calls for increased collaboration by libraries, use of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging core standard, Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, and greater use of cataloging copy without modification.

The panel reactor for Tom Delsey's paper was Jennifer Trant, executive director, Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO). She said that many museums are facing challenges similar to those of libraries, as the museums try to transform collection management systems into information retrieval systems. Noting that on the Web, the boundary between a resource and its description is blurred, she pointed out that the Web also enables digital objects to be presented in a context that creates meaning. She found it frustrating that so much discussion of research use of the Web focuses only on discovery, when discovery of a resource is only the beginning of its use. She suggested there would be value in coordinating the catalog with the five phases of the user's research process, discovery, retrieval, document analysis, collation, and re-presentation.

Robin Wendler, a metadata analyst in the Office for Information Systems, Harvard University Library, commented on Caplan's paper. She noted that libraries use metadata formulated according to rules for content, e.g., MARC-structured records with content that adheres to AACR2, to support high-volume interchanges, automate catalog maintenance, facilitate retrieval, and allow creation of well-ordered result lists. Other metadata systems that are not tied clearly to content rules do not support these functions on the scale to which libraries are accustomed. She predicted that libraries' relationships with publishers will become more important and this will result in a need to "re- purpose" publishers' metadata.

Assessing Current Library Standards for Bibliographic Control and Web Access: Topic 2 of the Bicentennial Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium

Bruce C. Johnson, Cataloging Distribution Service, Library of Congress, introduced Topic 2 by challenging participants to consider the important relationship between bibliographic control standards and access to information on the Web. The stage was set as IFLA's Working Group on Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records defined four user needs: "to find," " to identify," "to select," and "to obtain," augmented with a fifth need for networked resources: "to use." The discussion paper "Is Precoordination Unnecessary in LCSH? Are Web Sites More Important to Catalog than Books? : A Reference Librarian's Thoughts on the Future of Bibliographic Control" by Thomas Mann, reference librarian, LC, reminded all of the importance of access and traditional tools which serve to locate from books to Web sites.

Matthew Beacom, catalog librarian for network information resources, Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University, presented "Crossing a Digital Divide: AACR2 and Unaddressed Problems of Networked Resources." Beacom characterized the current situation as "crossing the digital divide," whereby we will either move into a promised land or a wasteland. The library community must respond to four significant changes: in physical forms, from tangible to intangible; in publication and distribution, from books and journals to services and databases; in control of use, from buying to leasing; and in the role of the catalog, from ascertaining to using. Beacom called for adding a fifth user need, "using," and recommended twelve specific changes to AACR2 to adapt it to a digital networked communications environment.

Lois Mai Chan, professor in the School of Library and Information Science, University of Kentucky, spoke about "Exploiting LCSH, LCC, and DDC to Retrieve Networked Resources." Chan pointed out the challenge of attaining quality and consistency in indexing and retrieval tools while confronting the reality of the ever-expanding Web. She outlined tasks to meet the challenge of expanding roles of controlled vocabulary and classification to enhance searches, and enumerated five areas of enhancements to these traditional tools for the networked environment.

William Moen, assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Sciences, University of North Texas, spoke about "Resource Discovery Using Z39.50: Promise and Reality." He acknowledged that the traditional library catalog is one among many repositories of metadata today from which Web users seek information and direct access. Although Z39.50 may be currently underutilized, both research and retrieval enhancements will strategically elevate its usefulness in the Web searching toolkit.

Barbara Tillett, director, Integrated Library System Program Office, and interim director for electronic resources, Library of Congress, addressed the participants about "Authority Control on the Web." Tillett stated that authority control can calm the chaos of data on the Web by enabling "precision and recall," which are lacking from today's Web searches. Broader authority control objectives are: to facilitate data sharing and to reduce cataloging costs; to simplify authority record creation and maintenance; and, to enable users to access information in the language, script, and form that they prefer. Tillett presented a model for linking existing authority files from major national bibliographic agencies, using the existing authority record control numbers, to switch the form of headings in shared bibliographic records to the language or form preferred, either when cataloging or when displaying the records to users.

Glenn Patton, manager of the Cataloging Products Department in the Product Management and Implementation Division, OCLC, and Diane Vizine-Goetz, Office of Research, OCLC, served as commentators for the Beacom and Chan papers respectively. Patton noted that three words stood out in Beacom's paper: publication, hierarchy, and granularity, which demand reconsideration of meaning and application in the Web environment. Vizine-Goetz recognized the significant role played by the authorized subject schemes for resource description and discovery while emphasizing the continuing research needed to move these schemes beyond the library catalog and into the realm of the Web.

African American Subject Headings

On Subject Heading Weekly List 00-47 for November 29, 2000, the subject heading Afro-Americans and subject headings that included the adjectival qualifier Afro-American... were changed to African Americans and African American.... Subject authority records in the LCSH Master Database and the LC Database have now been updated to the revised forms.

Effective Dec 1, 2000, LC catalogers began assigning only the new forms African Americans and African American... as subject headings in current bibliographic records.

Projects will be undertaken to update bibliographic records with the old forms of headings during 2001. Subject headings in individual bibliographic records may be changed on a case-by-case basis as the records are updated for other reasons.

Questions or concerns may be directed to

Tom Yee
Acting Chief
Cataloging Policy and Support Office
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20540-4305
email: [email protected]
Voice: (202) 707-4377

LC CATALOGING NEWSLINE (ISSN 1066-8829) is published irregularly by the Cataloging Directorate, Library Services, Library of Congress, and contains news of cataloging activities throughout the Library of Congress. Editorial Office: Cataloging Policy and Support Office, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540-4305. Editor, Robert M. Hiatt; Editorial Advisory Group: Victoria Behrens, John Byrum, Roselyne Chang, Jurij Dobczansky, Anthony Franks, Less Hawkins, Albert Kohlmeier, Susan Morris, Geraldine Ostrove, David Smith, David Williamson, and Roman Worobec. Address editorial inquiries to the editor at the above address or [email protected] (email), (202) 707-5831 (voice), or (202) 707-6629 (fax). Listowner: David Williamson. Address subscription inquiries to the listowner at [email protected].

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