This issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly presents a wide range of topics, from the very theoretical to the very practical. Both are important. Without research we would lack the solid grounding to move forward in many areas or to select the most effective among alternatives. At the same time, in our libraries we are faced with user demands and constraints of budgets, staffing, and space on a daily basis. Often those working in bibliographic control are left with trying to serve our users with less than the ideal. Nonetheless, stringent times often generate creative ideas.
Aggregator databases are among the new challenges to bibliographic control. A guest editorial introduces two articles treating these resources. One examines the CONSER aggregator survey and the work of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging Task Group on aggregator databases. The second article looks at aggregator databases from a public service and collection development viewpoint.
Two articles present research results. One author examines the essential elements of faceted thesauri. In a second article presenting research findings, three authors deal with a method to audit the quality of indexing (subject assignments) between indexers.
In the CCQ interview Brian Schottlaender spans the theoretical and the practical as he shares his experiences and perspectives on politics and the philosophy of bibliographic control. Schottlaender provides an insider’s look at such cataloging projects and groups as CC:DA, the Joint Steering Committee, and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging. He also relfects on the current critical issues in bibliographic control.
On the practical side of the spectrum, two articles treat the topics of insourcing and outsourcing. In one case the Catalog Department at the University of New Mexico has brought work from other parts of the University inside the library for appropriate compensation. Meanwhile, Adelphi University has outsourced its copy cataloging. The final article describes the automated reclassification project at the University of Kentucky.
As this issue of CCQ demonstrates, there is an amazing amount of vigor in the cataloging field throughout the world. Conferences devoted to cataloging are another sign of interest in and vitality of cataloging. Two examples that are pending conferences as I write are: 1) the Australian Library and Information Association’s 13th National Cataloging Conference to be held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia in October 13-15 1999, and 2) the Seminar on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) organized by the AIB (Italian Libraries Association) will be held in Florence, Italy, 27-28 January 2000. Speakers in the former are all Australian and the topics cover cataloging the Web, serials, authorities, technical services management and many more. In contrast, the Seminar on FRBR is focused more narrowly but has an international array of speakers. Either conference sounds exciting with much to offer.
There are an abundance of informative conferences and other continuing education opportunities in the area of cataloging, more probably than any one person can take in even if geography, time, and money posed no obstacles to attendance. Nonetheless, the two conferences cited here are examples of the stimulating opportunities for learning about current practices, issues and advances in cataloging, now an international field to be sure.
Cataloging and the organization of information is a critical component of our increasingly shared culture. For as Jeane Kirpatrick stated “We are, all of us, constrained by our time, our place, our civilization. We are bound by the culture we have in common, that culture which distinguishes us from other people in other times and places. Cultural constraints condition and limit our choices, shaping our characters with their imperatives.” While no one would say that all societies of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century have the same culture, existing forces, including the myriad means of rapid communication, are bringing the peoples of the world into closer contact with more need and opportunities to share information. Cataloging whether of items in traditional library collections or resources available through the Internet is an essential component of communicating information about information in a logical, organized fashion. After close to a decade where bibliographic control and the organization of information seemed to get short shrift in libraries, more often than not, there is a renewed appreciation of their value today. As the old saying goes, “What goes around, comes around.”
-- Ruth C. Carter
 Jeane J. Kirpatrick, in a commencement address at Georgetown University, May 24, 1981, quoted in Gorton Carruth and Eugene Erhlich, Harper Book of American Quotations (New York: Harper & Row, 1988) p. 167.