Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 21, Numbers 3/4 1996

Editor's Introduction

ABOUT THE GUEST EDITOR. John J. Riemer, MLS, is Assistant Head of Cataloging, Coordinator of LC National Programs, and Head of Serials Cataloging at the University of Georgia Libraries. Since 1987, Mr. Riemer has served as the Libraries' CONSER Operations Committee Representative and NACO Coordinator. He is author of a module on subject headings for serials in the CONSER Cataloging Manual. Currently he is member-at-large on the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services' Cataloging and Classification Section Executive Committee, within the American Library Association. Previously, he held cataloging positions at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he also graduated from its Graduate School of Library and Information Science with a specialization in cataloging and classification.

Standards enable us to see where we are in our growth. They signify the extent to which consensus has developed in our cataloging and classification practices. They represent criteria by which we may measure current and future progress, such as comparing an online catalog's adequacy in terms of fulfilling Cutter's objects (1) or evaluating drafts of a new cataloging code against Lubetzky's two objectives for the catalog. (2)

Standards help build a sense of community in much the same way as does speaking a common language. By representing jointly-held values about the service we are rendering to users, standards thus give meaning to our work. By fostering a sense of continuity with the past, standards can keep our attention focused on overall purpose when what we do undergoes a transition from one medium or technology to another.

Standards make it much more possible to collaborate with others when we find we share common interests. Combine adequate education and training for catalogers with a learned willingness "to practice tolerance bibliographically," (3) and we will be able to use with confidence the products of cooperative cataloging programs. Combine leadership that advocates needed changes, democratic deliberation processes, and imaginative application of lessons learned from all relevant areas of our profession, and we will have the standards we need for tomorrow.

As Walt Crawford has observed, "To use standards effectively, you must first understand what they are, how they are created, and how they relate to one another." (4) This collection of papers on standards and rules is offered in that spirit. The articles take stock of where we stand in a variety of areas. They take a broad view and trace many interconnections to other standards. They offer commentary and attempt insight into the future.

Sally McCallum introduces this volume by reviewing the standards landscape. She discusses the various kinds of standards used in the library and information science community, and she notes differences in their nature, structure, purpose, formality, and methods of development. As examples she calls on three key standards: governing structure of bibliographic data, facilitating markup of documents, and defining specifications of orders for library materials.

Robert Holley reviews the role the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has played to date in developing bibliographic control standards. Drawing from his years of experience in that organization, he comments on its standards setting process. The paper also examines the role of standards within the international library community.

The extent of international acceptance of AACR2 is the focus of Barbara Stern's paper. In it, she looks at various nations which have translated or adopted the code, in whole or in part, and what problems they have encountered in doing so. Those charged with future revision of the code can learn from these experiences.

Kay Guiles, Robert Ewald, and Barbara Tillett anticipate the future role to be played by the Library of Congress Rule Interpretations. To set the stage for this, they trace the history of this de facto standard. What once was in-house documentation is now a key component of cooperative cataloging programs.

As McCallum notes in her introductory paper, the bibliographic community's farsightedness in developing the MARC bibliographic format continues to pay enormous benefits in the form of exchangeable data and interchangeable vendor systems. Karen Spicher analyzes the historical development behind this success story. Her examination of primary sources sheds light on the early automation experiences and other factors influencing MARC's design.

Sarah Thomas provides the background and rationale for a brand-new standard. The Core Record is crafted to deliver a maximum of bibliographic content for a viable, reasonable, and potentially universal expenditure of effort to create the record. This standard is to serve as the foundation of future cooperative cataloging activity.

Casey Palowitch and Lisa Horowitz take on another frontier, electronic documents. Considering "meta-information" generally to be documentation supplied in, about, but not as an intrinsic part of an item (e.g., a book's title page or microfiche's header), they look at various possibilities for structuring this kind of data in electronic documents. The authors suggest that the headers used in the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) standards could greatly expedite the cataloging process for this new material.

Judith Kuhagen reviews what is standardly included in the name and series authority records created and maintained by the Library of Congress and its cooperating partners. Carefully, she has culled the significant from the detailed; she has noted how and why practices have changed over the years. In so doing, she affords us the chance to become more informed consumers of authority work.

Nancy Williamson offers a comprehensive overview of the subject half of bibliographic control. For each of the significant "standards," "guidelines," and "rules" she has selected, she writes of its origins, characteristics, maintenance, and importance to bibliographic retrieval systems. She highlights interrelationships among the various tools, especially the one between alphabetic and systematic access.

The Library of Congress is currently taking the new classification standard for "test flights" as it converts the LC classification schedules to USMARC. Rebecca Guenther demonstrates how actual implementation inevitably entails refinement and further development. Her article also reviews features of the format and anticipates some of its benefits to catalogs and catalogers.

In the final paper, using serials as a case study, Gregory Leazer reviews recent research on sequential bibliographic relationships. He questions whether the MARC bibliographic format can adequately relate records, and he challenges custodians of the standard to find out if it can do so. The result could be anything from its abandonment to radical reform to development of a new, complementary format.

In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge receiving invaluable ideas, support, and advice from Ruth Carter, Marty Joachim, Nolan Pope, Dorothy McGarry, Barry Baker, Karen Morgenroth, Katha Massey, and others throughout the course of this project. I also appreciate the encouragement my wife Diana Kirkpatrick has given me. Responsibility for the shortcomings of this volume lies solely with me.

I would like to dedicate this special issue to the memory of my mother. In her words,

In your twenties you plan to set the world on fire.
In your thirties you think you are setting the world on fire.
In your forties you think you have set the world on fire.
In your fifties you wonder if you have set the world on fire.
In your sixties you realize you didn't set the world on fire.
In your seventies you can relax and enjoy the world as it is.

--Mary Marcella Riemer (1920-1989)


1) Charles A. Cutter, Rules for a Printed Dictionary Catalog. U.S. Bureau of Education, Special Report on Public Libraries, Part II. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1876), 10.

2) Seymour Lubetzky, Principles of Cataloging. Final Report. Phase l: Descriptive Cataloging (Los Angeles: Institute of Library Research, University of California, Los Angeles, 1969), 14.

3) Sarah E. Thomas, speaking at the CONSER Policy Committee meeting, May 5, 1995, Library of Congress, Washington.

4) Walt Crawford, Technical Standards: An Introduction for Librarians. 2d ed. (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1991), 13.

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