Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 26, Number 1 1998


This issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly provides an eclectic mix of articles. They range from a report of a project that explored ways of reconfiguring AACR2 for use in an electronic environment to a case study of outsourcing at one university library. Two authors present suggestions for forms of entry for Khmer personal names while one proposes a new subclass, QF, for computer science in the Library of Congress Classification Scheme. And, in the first CCQ article from South America, the author treats cataloging theory in a look at the item, the work, and the object of cataloging.

One book review covers a compilation of essays describing outsourcing projects in library technical services. The second review treats an updated edition of a manual for descriptive cataloging of music materials. The Cataloging News column with its reports detailing innovations and policies in many libraries completes the issue.

There is no question that there has been a major shift in how many libraries are providing for cataloging. With access to electronic resources becoming increasingly common, and, indeed, expected by many users, a redistribution of resources within libraries was virtually inevitable. Yet the jury is still out on the long term wisdom of the tradeoffs that have been and will continue to be made. Outsourcing, treated in this issue in an article and a book review, is just one of the alternative ways of securing cataloging that some libraries are choosing. However, outsourcing is neither without cost, or necessarily satisfactory to all the users of the end product. Will its benefits of speed and somewhat lesser costs wear well over the long haul? We won’t know the answers to that and other issues any time soon. On the other hand, in a climate where libraries are still struggling budget-wise, it is unlikely that no matter what the failings of outsourcing that cataloging staffs once shrunk will increase significantly again. One hope, of course, is eventually being able to make more use across the globe of cataloging done in the country of origin of the work. Progress is being made toward truly international cataloging, but much remains to be done. There is also the issue of local publications (in all media) that require cataloging to make them accessible. For example, who takes responsibility for city or county documents if not a major library in the region? Outsourcing original cataloging may be less than an optimal solution especially when complicated corporate names are involved.

I know that I don’t have the answers on how to balance all the conflicting demands or to most effectively distribute limited resources. I do, however, know that there are many creative people within the library and information professions who will meet these challenges, energetically and intelligently. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly will continue to carry articles describing both theoretical and applied strategies for providing catalog records for library resources. Not every idea or experiment will prove successful in the long run, but sometimes it is difficult to tell initially which will last. Thus, it is wise to take a tolerant view of new approaches. As Mark Train observed, "The man with a new idea is a Crank until the idea succeeds." (1)

-- Ruth C. Carter

1.  Mark Twain, "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar," Following the Equator, 1897, quoted in Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, The Harper Book of American Quotations (New York: Harper & Row, 1988).

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