Despite the considerable interest that exists in issues surrounding organization of information resources available through the Internet, much is left to say about more traditional cataloging and classification. The articles in this issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly make that point very well. At the same time that we provide access to remote digital resources, we must continue to describe and organize the resources held locally.
An increased percentage of collections maintained in our library are likely to be in a nonprint format. Issues concerning subject analysis and bibliographic description of multiple part videos constitute one author's topics. And, given our multicultural and global society, collections in our library are more likely to be in a language other than English. A second author looks at unique considerations related to cataloging Thai materials as representative of Southeast Asian language materials. Community information is another example of a less traditional, but increasingly frequent, cause for cataloging. The Queen's Borough Public Library's Guidelines for cataloging community information are presented as an example of policies for handling these resources.
A thought provoking article sees changes to cataloging rules as responses to external factors as well as to unclear or false distinctions in the rules themselves. Perhaps the greatest factor is a modern shift in authorship of many publications. Very few works now are published anonymously while multiple authorship has increased dramatically. At the same time that cataloging rules respond to outside factors, the process of cataloging has responded to automated assists. The article examining CUTT-x, an expert system for automatic assignment of cutter numbers, describes the use of technology to provide automatic assistance for classification. Finally, the Cataloging News column completes this issue.
All parts of society are changing as technology changes how we communicate with each other as well as how we store and retrieve information. Like Vannevar Bush posited in his book title, Science: The Endless Frontier, the science of library and information science continues indefinitely. Even as our library and information seeking environments and behaviors change, our science pushes us to understand how users seek information and how best to organize it. Albert Einstein noted that "Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors . . . Never forget this in the midst of ... diagrams and equations." (i) The human interfaces for the complex systems and incredible amounts of data they hold must be easy enough that users are not discouraged. Cataloging and classification have always been about the logical organization of materials in a catalog or on the shelf. Though the context and presentation of information and resources may differ, the need for a logical structure remains. Technology will help a great deal but it is still the human behind the software or machine that makes the discoveries that fuel the advances. As J. William Fulbright observed, "Science has radically changed the conditions of human life on earth. It has expanded our knowledge and our power but not our capacity to use them with wisdom." (ii) As librarians and information scientists, our challenge is to apply our new technologies and the results of our research wisely for the humans who benefit from our work.
-- Ruth C. Carter
i) Albert Einstein, quoted in Robert S. Lynd, Knowledge
for What? 1939, quoted in Gordon Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, The
Harper Book of American Quotations (Harper & Row: New
York, NY, 1988), p. 506-507.
ii) J. William Fulbright, Old Myths and New Realities, 1964, quoted in The Harper Book of American Quotations, p. 507.