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Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 25, Number 1 1997


Editorial

Many libraries are trying to decide whether or not to include records for remote electronic documents in their online catalogs. This "hot topic" is discussed in an article treating current issues in describing remote electronic documents for inclusion in a library's online catalog. A second article examines guidelines for thesaurus construction, in particular, the use of facet analysis in information retrieval thesauri.

Two articles treat classification systems that are not as widely known at the Library of Congress Classification, Dewey Decimal, or Universal Decimal Classification. One author provides a description of the Regensburg Classification Scheme, developed at the University of Regensburg when that German university was founded in 1964. A major review of the ideas and accomplishments of Henry E. Bliss and the Bliss Bibliographic Classification system is presented in its entirety.

As regular readers of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly will note, I have on occasion opted to publish a lengthy piece. Although this is by no means standard practice, I am willing to consider somewhat longer than normal manuscripts from time to time. As Editor I considered that Bliss deserves more recognition and decided that publishing Alan Thomas's work in one piece is more useful to readers than the option of breaking it up into two or more articles. In addition to my willingness to consider the occasional longer piece, I also like to receive manuscripts on a variety of topics related to cataloging and use of catalog records broadly understood. If you have ideas for topics that you would like to see covered in CCQ, please write me or e-mail me at: RCC13+@pitt.edu

Lines between units and functions in libraries often are less sharp today than just a few years ago. Cataloging expertise may be distributed rather than maintained in a central catalog department or technical services division. Reference services staff may now work side by side with someone with cataloging expertise, or for that matter individuals who may be "former" catalogers who now use their understanding of the construction of catalog records and the bibliographic database to help patrons directly.

It remains to be seen how the quality and usefulness of catalogs will be affected in the long term. Will three, five, or ten years see a return to more staff dedicated to cataloging expertise? Or, is the heyday of cataloging past, never to surface again? Will artificial intelligence and/or technological advances eventually make cataloging moot? Where in the cataloging process is human judgment needed? These and many other questions are not going to go away any time soon. In the meantime much remains to be done in examining description, subject access, and classification. These are international concerns and the most effective solutions for delivery of cataloging data will involve international collaboration. New ways of looking at providing these aids to organizing and providing access to the increasingly complex options in types and numbers of information resources will evolve in many places around the world. The best of these will be adapted in more than one country or region or language group.

Currently, individuals concerned with the delivery of information about resources held, whether local or remote, are trying very hard to meet the needs of the diverse users of library catalogs. Practicing catalogers, cataloging educators, theorists, researchers, system designers, and public services personnel are all struggling to keep of with new options for how to do things along with increased numbers of information resources and patron expectations. Libraries of the late 1990's may not be quite as chaotic as the American Wild West of the late 19th century, but some similarities exist. One could apply the sign seen by Oscar Wilde in a saloon in Leadville, Colorado in 1882:

"Please do not Shoot the Pianist
He is doing His Best."(1)

-- Ruth C. Carter

1)  Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, The Harper Book of American Quotations (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), p. 147.


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