EDITORIAL by Ruth C. Carter
The Elephant in the Catalog: Cataloging Animals You Can't See or Touch. By
Janet Swan Hill
INTRODUCTION. We have all heard the story of the three blind men who were put next to an elephant and asked to describe it. Each of them touched a different part of the beast, and because none of them could examine the entire creature, their resulting description was neither accurate nor useful. Constructing a catalog has always been a bit like describing elephants blind, and rather than getting easier as standardization and new technologies are widely implemented, the emergence of new types of information resources are making the job more difficult. Remotely-accessible electronic information resources are among the newest of cataloging's elephants. Not only is it difficult to see -or touch the entire animal, but the creature may move or change during or after the description process. The beast is also unwieldy, and the person doing the description may have no control or ownership of it. The temptation is great to say that it is not our business to describe either this particular beast or any other animal that we don't own, and to walk away. Unfortunately, remotely-accessible electronic information resources are increasing in number and importance, and access to information about materials over which the local library has no control is becoming both easier and more common. Library users more and more expect to have access to these resources, so the option of leaving them undescribed and thus excluding them from the catalog is becoming indefensible. In coming to grips with the problem of describing these exotic beasts, it may be helpful to recall how we have dealt with similar challenges in the past, and to remember that the practices, rules, policies, and principles that surround and define the activity of cataloging have always reflected the current concept of what constitutes a library catalog, and that that concept inevitably reflects both the history and role of libraries and available technology. Until relatively recently the primary roles of a catalog were widely recognized to be providing inventory control for a particular collection and serving as a finding aid to that collection only, but in practice, even the most elaborate catalogs never fulfilled even these roles entirely. Whole categories of materials, such as maps, photographs, newspapers, pamphlets, and rare books were excluded, or at best were described in separate catalogs or finding aids. Information about the contents of individual objects, such as chapters, contributions, and journal articles were also rarely included in the catalog. A small number of major parts of some works were described through analytic cataloging, and contents of other items were sometimes listed in notes in cataloging records when those parts were considered separable and potentially important in their own right, but because entries were generally not made for items included in contents notes the lists were primarily useful to those who had already found the main record. Description of the internal contents of information resources was left to reference works such as indexes and bibliographies. Far from being viewed as a flaw or insufficiency in the catalog, this need to use outside finding aids was accepted as the way things were.
Support Staff and Librarians in Cataloging. By Jennifer A. Younger
ABSTRACT. Support staff have assumed increasingly responsible, complex assignments in libraries and today, working closely with cataloging librarians, carry out a wide range of responsibilities for cataloging. Across the country, support staff and librarians are taking up the challenge of determining the most appropriate uses to make of the knowledge and skills, respectively, of librarians and support staff in carrying out the library's cataloging operations. This article provides a brief historical context against which to understand the present and contemplate the future, describes activities and emerging trends with potential for improving the utilization of support staff and librarians in cataloging departments, and discusses obstacles lying in the path of redistributing cataloging responsibilities.
Half a Lifetime in the Cataloger's Chair: A Perspective from a Career
Cataloger. By William E. Studwell
ABSTRACT. A prominent career cataloger who has devoted over thirty years to the craft of cataloging reflects on what it means to be a long-term professional cataloger.
Finding the Forest Among the Trees: The Potential of Collection-Level
Cataloging. By Margaret F. Nichols
ABSTRACT. Both the contextual focus of current literary and historical scholarship and the increasing pressure on libraries to process more with fewer resources make collection-level cataloging an attractive option for certain kinds of collections, not only of manuscripts, but also of printed materials and graphics. A 1991 project involving Cornell's French Revolution Collection offers an example of how collection-level cataloging can be used to process a massive group of materials in multiple formats. The author describes how the project proceeded, the advantages of cataloging in the RLIN AMC (Archival and Manuscript Control) and VIM (Visual Materials) formats, and the advantages of creating a hierarchy of records. The essay concludes with a discussion of other possible uses of collection-level cataloging and its advantages over minimal-level cataloging.
Use of the LCSH System: Realities. By Tschera Harkness Connell
ABSTRACT. This study examines the question of whether academic libraries keep up with changes in the Library of Congress subject heading system. An analysis of the handling of 15 subject headings in 50 academic library catalogs available online through the Internet found that libraries are not consistently maintaining subject authority control, or making syndetic references and scope notes in thew catalogs. The data are discussed from the perspectives of the libraries' performance, performance on the headings overall, performance on references, performance on the type of change made to the headings, and performance within three widely used online catalog systems. The implications of the findings are discussed in relationship to recent expressions of dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of subject cataloging.
Characteristics of the 670 Field in Records for Names in the Anglo-American
Authority File. By Michael T. Krieger
ABSTRACT. Increasing amounts of time and expense required to provide authority control for OPACs has stimulated interest in the automated generation of name authority records. At the same time, national cooperative cataloging programs such as NACO are seeking participants on a wider scale. A better understanding of the nature of authority records, the possibilities and limitations of their machine creation, and the resources needed for institutions to participate in national programs is needed to assist decision making in these areas. The 670 field is used to justify the form and content of established headings and their cross references. The 670 fields from national level name authority records pertaining to the subject area of the Catholic Church were examined. Information was sought on the number of 670s per record, on the types of work cited, and on the works themselves. Findings indicate that considerable differences exist among the categories of authority records, with some (modern personal names and uniform titles) being more amenable to machine generation. It was also possible to tentatively identify a core reference for authority work in a subject area.
A Beginner's Guide to Copy Cataloging on OCLC/PRISM, by Lois
Cataloging and Classification for Library Technicians, by Mary Liu Kao
Reviewed by Bobby Ferguson
Technical Services Management, 1965-1990: A Quarter Century of Change and a Look to
the Future: Festschrift for Kathryn Luther Henderson, edited by Linda C.
Smith and Ruth C. Carter
Reviewed by Lee Shiflett
Library of Congress Subject Headings: Principles and Applications, 3rd ed., by
Lois Mai Chan
Reviewed by Lois Kuyper-Rushing
© Haworth Press, Inc.