This issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly contains a guest editorial on the topic of proposed changes in treatment of series made by the Library of Congress. While some debate with considerable fervor the practical value of series, others treat basic conceptual questions, for example, what constitutes a work? In the first of a three part series, this issue features a thoughtful exploration of the user and the object of the catalog.
Among the topics receiving frequent attention today are the cataloging and classification of items from Asian countries. Two articles in this issue relate to Chinese materials. A helpful guide to distinguish and catalog Chinese personal names is presented. A second article looks at ideological influences on book classification schemes in the People's Republic of China. Both are useful, interesting articles and together they display the diversity of areas to expand our knowledge that is possible within the framework of cataloging and classification. A totally different concern constitutes the basis for an article dealing with materials in Spanish and Portuguese. A study reveals that titles for which copy is not found within fifteen months should receive original cataloging rather than being held for further researching.
Pushing the boundary of how we think about subject headings is an article examining the variant cataloging of the works of one author Pierre Bourdieu. As a service to individuals new to research and publishing, two pieces, prepared for the 1993 Preconference on Research in Cataloging and Classification sponsored by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) Cataloging and Classification Section (CCS) provide basic information. Two reviews, one a book review examining the interfaces between public and technical service and the second which looks at the Dewey Decimal System in its electronic form, complete this issue. As good research often does, more questions are raised as others are answered.
One of my current concerns is giving due recognition to library support staff. While support staff are often termed paraprofessionals or other similar names, they are by no means lesser partners in library services including those in cataloging. In my own institution, three of our technical services supervisors are high-level support staff. The bulk of our cataloging (LC copy cataloging and a majority of OCLC member contributed copy cataloging) is done by support staff. Those doing member copy also do OCLC Enhance for books. My library could not possibly function without high quality, dedicated support staff. I believe yours is likely to be in the same situation. While the librarians and supervisors are at seemingly endless meetings, often engaged in planning, support staff churn out the work. They take pride in their efforts as well they should and are quick to notice when a "professional" is not carrying his or her workload. Many of today's support staff will hold librarian positions in the future. Right now they are simply in school or at an entry point in their career. Others are bright people, with many skills including foreign languages and computers, but who for one reason or another prefer to work in a supporting capacity. Respecting diversity means respecting choice. Margaret Mead once observed that as a society "Chief among our gains must be reckoned this possibility of choice, the recognition of many possible ways of life ... Where other civilizations give a satisfactory outlet to only one temperamental type, ... a civilization in which there are many standards offers a possibility of satisfactory adjustment to individuals of many different temperamental types, of diverse gifts, and varying interests."(1) A library as an organization is a mini-society or civilization. It takes all of us. We have different functions, but all are important to the success and survival of the whole.
1. Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa, quoted in Gorton Carruth and Eugen Ehrlich, The Harper Book of American Quotations. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 132.