Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 29, Number 3 2000


Elizabeth N. Steinhagen, News Editor

We would appreciate receiving items having to do with

Research and Opinion

            *            Abstracts or reports of on-going or unpublished  research

            *            Bibliographies of materials available on specific subjects

            *            Questions that you would like to have answered by this column's readers

            *            Analysis or description of new technologies

            *            Call for papers

            *            Comments or opinions on the art of cataloging


            *            Notes, minutes or summaries of meetings, etc., of  interest to catalogers

            *            Publication announcements

            *            Description of grants

            *            Description of projects


            *            Announcements of changes in personnel

            *            Announcements of honors, offices, etc.

The following report was submitted from the XLIV Annual Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials, May 29 through June 3, Nashville, Tennessee.

            A chance for librarians to share ideas, solutions to problems, and plans, the annual conference, hosted by Vanderbilt University has expanded beyond simply acquisitions to include the processing of materials and bibliographic access and services.  The conference theme, "Documenting Movements, Identity and Popular Culture in Latin America" led to a great variety of panels--however only issues relating to cataloging are reported here.

            The Subcommittee on Cataloging and Bibliographic Technology, with catalogers and other representatives from several countries, met to discuss issues pending from previous years and to talk about ideas for new and continued cooperation.  Micaela Chavez, from the Colegio de Mexico presented an authority control project which would target Mexican personal and corporate names and create authority records which would be added to the NACO authority files.

            Again this year, participants questioned the need for continuing the Program for Latin American Cataloging (PLAC).  The ability of libraries to fulfill cooperative agreements varies greatly and keeping statistics of participation is difficult since there are about as many ways of recording production as there are participants.  Those present agreed that when libraries were able to target their designated cataloging priorities, everyone benefitted.  John Wright of Brigham Young University agreed to coordinate the efforts.

            Laura Shedenhelm, University of Georgia, and Bartley Burk, University of Notre Dame, described their efforts to study the impact of vendor acquisition records in the OCLC database.  Variations and errors in records keep the system algorithms from eliminating duplicate records.  Of concern were descriptions not in english and discrepancies in the 100 fields.  When duplicate records are in the database, it is necessary to do additional searching, and to call up records in order to catalog.  Financial considerations are an issue, both for members and OCLC.  They were also tracking records to get a feel for how long it takes for these records to receive full cataloging.

            A panel was fully devoted to technical services issues.  Claire-Lise Benaud, University of New Mexico, in "Considerations for Outsourcing Cataloging," discussed the following: a shift from selective outsourcing to total outsourcing; how the level of editing performed may define what is a core cataloging activity for a particular library; the economic, ideological, and political considerations prompting a library to outsource; the several problems associated with outsourcing, such as loss of control and expertise and a decrease in the editing of records resulting in a "cookie-cutter" approach to cataloging; and how outsourcing affects national cooperative programs. She concluded by presenting a snapshot of outsourcing in academic libraries.

            In "New (and Hot) Issues in Technical Services," Cecilia Sercan, Cornell University, gave an overview of current issues in cataloging. She covered a wide range of topics, many reflecting the situation at Cornell: core records are becoming the standard and replacing full records; there is an increasing presence of vendor records in bibliographic utilities; catalogers are less specialized than in the past and now perform monographic and serials cataloging; collection-level cataloging is increasingly performed; cataloging of electronic resources including aggregator databases is in full swing; participation in national cooperative programs through various PCC programs such as NACO, BIBCO, and CONSER continues to be important; the digitization of resources and the refreshing of digitized records is continuing; outsourcing of cataloging is increasing; the revision of cataloging rules is upcoming; and, paraprofessional catalogers are increasingly cataloging what used to be the prerogative of professional catalogers.  The last item generated heated discussion.  Members of the audience commented that staff in such positions were not getting paid adequately and that this trend further increased the deprofessionalization of cataloging.

            Throughout the conference catalogers had ample opportunities to discuss issues concerning Iberian and Latin American area studies.  They are looking forward to next year's SALALM conference which will be held in Long Beach, California, hosted by the University of California at Los Angeles.

Claire-Lise Benaud and Sharon A. Moynahan

University of New Mexico

  Lowell Ashley receives the MLA Special Achievement Award.

            The Music Library Association awarded the MLA Special Achievement Award to Lowell Ashley at its 1999 annual meeting.  This award was made in recognition of his work on the bibliographic control of music video materials.

            In 1996, MLA published the MLA Technical Report, "Cataloging Musical Moving Image Material: A Guide to the bibliographic Control of Videorecordings and Films of Musical Performances and Other Music-Related Moving Image Material," edited by Mr.Ashley.  This is the first monograph ever published on cataloging musical performances on videorecordings and motion pictures, and has filled a pressing need for national leadership on this subject.  Mr. Ashley's work in this area, including the MLA Technical Report, chairing the MLA Working Group on Bibliographic Control of Music Video Materials and serving as instructor at the MLA Preconference workshop on cataloging music materials on videorecordings, has been invaluable.

            Lowell Ashley approached the controversial main entry issue in musical video recordings with tact, perseverance and diplomacy.  His work and vision strengthened MLA's relationship with colleagues in other professional arenas, specifically the American Library Association's Association for Library Collections & Technical Services Audiovisual Committee and the Online Audiovisual Catalogers, Inc. Cataloging Policy Committee.

            Lowell Ashley is Catalog/Authorities Librarian at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries in Washington, D.C.  As the NACO Coordinator, he oversees the libraries' contributions to the National Name Authority File.  Before coming to Smithsonian Institution Libraries in August, 1997, Mr. Ashley was Principal Cataloger at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  He received an M.L.S. from George Peabody College, now part of Vanderbilt University), and a B.A. in music and English from Emory and Henry College (Emory, VA).

Alan Karass, Publicity Officer

Music Library Association

            The Music Library Association recently appointed Jean Morrow as Coordinator of the Editorial Board for its "Basic Manual Series," a new publication that will deal with all aspects of the organization, administration and use of a music library.  As Coordinator, she will be responsible for the selection of topics and appointment of authors as well as overseeing all other editorial activity for the publication.

            Educated at MacMurray College, Smith College and New York University, Ms. Morrow currently holds the position of Director of Libraries at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Mass., and also teaches Music Librarianship at the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

            In addition to heading the Editorial Board for the "Basic Manual Series," Ms. serves as Chair of the Music Library association's Library School Liaison Subcommittee and is a member of its Education and Publication Committees.  Previously she has chaired its Publication Awards Committee and its Local Arrangements Fundraising Committee.  Ms. Morrow also has been President of the New England Chapter of the Music Library Association and of Fenway Libraries Online in Boston.

            Among her publications, Ms. Morrow recently co-authored "Guide to Writing Collection Development Policies for Music" published in summer 1999 by Scarecrow Press.  She contributed to the "Basic Music Library," published by the American Library Association in 1997 and to "Measure by Measure: A History of the New England Conservatory of Music," published in 1996.  Ms. Morrow has written book reviews for "Notes," contributed to the "MLA Newsletter," and the "DRA Newsletter," and delivered papers at the MLA Annual Conference and the Data Research Users' Annual Conference.

Alan Karass, Publicity Officer

Music Library Association


OCLC and WLN are pleased to announce the availability of a WLN-OCLC control number converter program.  The program was written to assist WLN libraries in locating the correct OCLC record in WorldCat to which their holdings have been attached.  Users can take the WLN record ID number (RID) or the WLN internal sequence number (ISN), plug it into the application, and the converter will return the control number of the corresponding OCLC WorldCat record to which their holdings have been merged.  The converter will work in reverse as well, i.e., users can input an OCLC control number and retrieve the corresponding WLN RID.

            The converter is located on the OCLC Cataloging page, under  It can also be downloaded from the OCLC/WLN website at:  The program is large, approx. 44 mg, so it will take some time to download for libraries with slower internet connections.  For any questions, contact the OCLC/WLN Help Desk at 1-800-638-9956.

Greg McKinney, Director, Conversion Services Division

OCLC, Inc.


The following report was received from the American Library Association 118th Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA, June 24-30, 1999.

"Publish! Information, Networking, and Motivation for Cataloging Research," was the title of the program sponsored by the ALCTS Cataloging and Classification Section, Policy and Research Committee.

            A panel of educators, authors, and a journal editor spoke about the research process, in a program that was meant to provide support, advice and motivation for catalog librarians involved in research.

            Francis Miksa, of UT-Austin GSLIS, spoke about the approaches to research and, especially, to finding appropriate topics.  She stated that there is a commonness of research as a human activity, as our curiosity leads us to research.  We all do research every day in practical or impractical things, just to understand.  The only difference between our everyday research and a more scientific research is one of degree, not in kind.  The core of research is the picking up of a topic, as a mental state of inquiry, an expression of our curiosity.  Research in cataloging, by the same token, is the result of curiosity about certain aspects of it, and through the use of methodology, we can come up with answers, after pondering the matter.  Thus, the heart of research is our curiosity about a phenomenon, which leads us to raise questions and look into answers, using some methodology.

            According to Miksa, finding research topics is a very personal activity resulting from questions about users and how they use the records we create, or questions about information-bearing entities, or other areas of cataloging, such as on concepts and how they relate to one another.

            Dilys Morris, of Iowa State University, has been researching staff costs in technical services for a number of years.  She stated that cataloging and classification are the basis of all other library work and that research is needed to improve the efficiency of these operations.  By using technology, the latter has increased and costs per title cataloged have dropped, while  production has increased.  Thus research is needed, especially in the use of technology to continue and improve on our performance.  But, how does one get started?   Coming up with a topic is fairly easy, when thinking about ways to evaluate effectiveness and to explore new ways to use technology; of course, one must have interest, curiosity, and some knowledge about the area, in addition to the ability to ask the right questions.  One could look at the value of cataloging records for different users and at how our work is being used; one could also examine how people are profiting from our cataloging records, or from our authority work.  One can look into the role of catalogers in electronic resources, or the consequences of committee work or faculty status on catalogers.  Questions to ask before starting include areas such as, what new aspects will the results bring to the profession; is it truly creative work and will it be respected and, last but not least, how much time and resources will be needed to complete it.  Since it is research that moves our profession forward, an effective researcher must achieve synergy between work and research.

            Next Carlen Ruschoff, of Georgetown University and on the editorial board of Journal of Academic Librarianship, and Library Resources and Technical Services, spoke from an editor's perspective.  She mentioned that most boards look for current topics and clear writing.  Thus, the topic must be of interest to the writer, so it can make a contribution to the literature on that topic.  Prior to writing, one should make a thorough literature search and ask whether or not one can shed new light on a given topic, or if previous studies can be updated.  The paper, once written, must be readable, well-organized, logical, systematic and have smooth flow.  Furthermore, it must begin with a clearly-stated problem statement and a hypothesis, which is usually an assumption proved or disproved later.  The research strategy employed must fit the topic, whether basic or applied.  The chosen strategy must measure the problem, must produce findings and must be duplicable by others.  If using a survey, the questions must first be tested on a small group for accuracy.  Traditionally, the findings are reported separately, and the implications of results analyzed completely and honestly, as they must be relevant to the hypothesis.  The writing style can be challenge, but should consist of simple statements, using active verbs.  Some jargon can be used, but terms must be explained.  For submitting a manuscript, reading the guidelines of the journal is a must as they normally gives instructions on the format, on the references used, on abstracts.

            Sarah Thomas of Cornell University spoke about the benefits and the value of research.  She emphasized that it leads us to the tools to help us move forward.  Librarianship is not a dying profession and research is an important part of gaining respect, and it also helps provide us satisfaction, in addition to the practical aspects of helping us save money or to make money in our libraries.  She spoke of the need to demistify research to help us overcome our inhibitions.  As operations are becoming more complex, results of sound research can become an important tool for decision-making, for timely availability of information to help guide decision-makers.  In view of the rapidly changing environment in libraries, there is no shortage of topics, and some institutions give time off for research, or internal grants.  Research can be hard and tedious, or when the doing is easy, the writing can be hard.  However, doing research increases our critical thinking and our writing skills.  Regarding the methodology of writing and of style, Thomas also had some sound advice.  She counseled against the "robot" style, and emphasized the importance of analysis and interpretation of results, as the most valuable component; also, opinion is important, and taking a stand essential.  Other questions had to do with a progression of research.  Starting with small, practical things, one can also progress to opinion pieces, and to "think" papers, which are usually based on years of solid research in a particular area.

            Going directly to a current important topic, Karen Calhoun, also of Cornell University spoke about the need for research on the core record standard.  Since many large libraries, all PCC members, such as Cornell, and the Library of Congress, have implemented the core record as their standard, there is enormous interest in evaluating these records and their usefulness.  Several questions need to be answered about them, such as their cost-effectiveness as an alternative to creating original cataloging, their impact on copy cataloging operations, and their usefulness for library users.  There are o guidelines at present to evaluate them and we need to know how to ask the questions.

            At the completion of the program, Gregory Leazer, of the UCLA Department of Information Studies gave the audience an update on the PECASE award (Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers) and on his research on the creation of a next-generation cataloging model that integrates digital formats with more traditional formats.  He received the award for the creation of software to detect relationships between the cataloging record for the book and the cataloging record for the web site.  His current research is on textual materials on how works relate to each other.

Elizabeth N. Steinhagen

University of New Mexico Library 

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