Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 29, Number 4  2000


            This issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly opens with an interview with distinguished educator and researcher Elaine Svenonius.  Among other topics, she discusses her educational background, how she became interested in classification and indexing, her viewpoint on the profession today, the need for research in library and information science, teaching, and her plans for the future.  Svenonius’continuing excitement with the organization of information should prove inspirational for current members of the profession.

            Many catalogers around the world belong to AUTOCAT, an online discussion group for cataloging.  Some participants take advantage of AUTOCAT to seek advice on how to handle very specific cataloging problems.  Others use it to disseminate information; still others pose questions that can result in quite a spirited exchange of opinions.  One such exchange of viewpoints occurred with a discussion on whether or not to classify Internet resources locally.  A leading contributor to the discussion has compiled the various viewpoints expressed and in addition has provided some context of how the bibliographic description and classification of electronic resources fits into the bigger picture of the purposes of cataloging and classification.

            In card catalogs a misfiled card often resulted in a retrieval loss.  Online catalogs also have retrieval problems that range from typographical errors to system design problems.  The first of a two-part study examines the catalog as a barrier to retrieval by examining the different treatments of hyphens and ampersands in titles in OPACS accessed over the Internet.  The study reveals that the differences in treatment of ampersands and hyphens in titles may result in inconsistent retrieval across multiple OPACs even with the increasing use of the Z39.50 protocol.

            Adding tables of contents to bibliographic records is one method of enhancing OPACs.  One article reports the project at the American Museum of natural History Library that used scanning and OCR software to digitize and add monograph tables of contents.  Another article describes a research project to determine how to construct samples of records for laboratory information retrieval experiments on OPACs that enables comparison of results from different experiments.  The author demonstrates that different sample size and composition affect retrieval effectiveness.

            A brief report on operations provides a comparison of OCLC’s 2nd and 3rd editions of OCLC CJK and reveals that each version has strengths and weaknesses when compared to the other.  The first News Column by new Cataloging News Editor Sandy Roe concludes the issue.

            The next issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly will be a theme issue that will cover three issue numbers.  Its topic is managing cataloging and the organization of information at the onset of the 21st century.  Librarians from more than twenty institutions of varying sizes and types and geographic origin describe current practice or philosophies and suggest issues and trends for the future.  How are libraries dealing with the rapidly changing information world both in use patterns and the nature of the resources containing the information that user’s desire?  While not a definite statement, after all there is no absolute right or wrong, CCQ’s managing cataloging theme issue will tell you how some libraries are coping and what they see ahead for the future.

            Quite a number of additional theme issues are in the planning stages.  Two topics to watch for soon include A-V cataloging and morality and ethics in cataloging.  At least a half a dozen additional topics are under consideration for theme issue treatment.  The whole area of bibliographic control including use of records is so dynamic at the moment that topics deserving in depth treatment seem almost limitless.

            At the same time that I am excited about future theme issues, I am also mindful of the importance of the general issues.  They include the news column, book reviews, and the interview feature.  In addition, many of the articles in general issues are unsolicited and all of those are refereed.  Researchers and practitioners working on projects, surveys, new techniques or approaches, that merit publication submit manuscripts describing their experiences.  The field advances through sharing knowledge.  Things are happening so fast that often there is no model to go by.  Writing up a method tried is very useful to others confronting similar situations.  Be bold.  Take the plunge.  Write up what you have tried whether it works or not.  Or feel free to make proposals for change.  Many topics and approaches are possible.  As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Get action.  Seize the day.”[i]  As for me, I have always wanted CCQ to have a balance between research and practice.  It remains my goal today.

                                                                                                -- Ruth C. Carter

[i] Theodore Roosevelt, speaking to his children, quoted in David McCullough, Mornings on Horseback, 1981, as quoted in Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, The Harper Book of American Quotations (New York: Harper & Row, 1988) p. 28.

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