Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 30, Number 4 2000



“Great Minds”

            Not surprisingly this issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly contains a diverse mix of articles and features.  The CCQ Interview feature highlights two leaders of Chile’s experience with bibliographic control.  Subject access for music is considered in the context of faceted access through USMARC.  Another author describes the expansion for local use of the Library of Congress classification for education, the Class L schedule.  Continuing the idea of flexible, local approaches, two authors report on the pragmatic cataloging of a collection of annual reports as opposed to adhering to full CONSER standards.

            Issues connected with the cataloging of items with Chinese names are examined in detail in an article of some complexity.  The problems of the representation of names in non-native languages is not limited to Chinese or other Asian languages.  Some examples are given.  All names become more critical with shared cataloging across the world and the Internet accessibility of local catalogs.  The situation regarding Chinese names is especially complex and accuracy is often sacrificed.

            The Cataloging News column completes the current issue.

            As I write this column, plans are underway for the invitation only conference on bibliographic control for the new millenium that the Library of Congress will host in November 2000.  Distinguished leaders in bibliographic control, networking and Web development will present papers for discussion both online in advance of the conference and during the conference.  I and many others consider bibliographic control (encompassing descriptive cataloging and metadata, authority control, subject access, and classification, all broadly defined) to be one of the most intellectual aspects of librarianship and information science.  Soon many of the best minds in cataloging, information systems, metadata development and related fields will convene to achieve some consensus in direction for bibliographic control in a future that will see more and more emphasis on and use of networked electronic resources.  Meanwhile the papers of many of the “great minds” are being made available in advance to the many others in the bibliographic control international community.  In actuality there is no stark boundary between the “great minds” and the “many minds.”  Rather it is a continuum that often reflects the preferences of individuals for theoretical versus day to day or applied work.  To move ahead both are needed and that is why papers are being posted to the Web for comment in advance of the conference.  The end result can be only be better for the perspectives of the many, in this case the many who care to expend their mental energy and experience commenting on the papers by the theorists.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson indicated, the hardest task in the world is “to think.”

Even for resources that will exist in print or other non-electronic formats, whether the millions of extant publications, objects, and artifacts or those created in the future, access to information about those resources will be increasingly electronic and available internationally via the World Wide Web.  There is often a fine balance between the ideal and the practical, the desirable versus the affordable, and the currently useful versus the valuable in the future.  The forthcoming process should move bibliographic control in the context of networked information forward to viable early twenty-first century solutions.  Yet we must realize that while we progress in our time, the more distant future, even the second half of the twenty-first century or the centuries to follow may have technology innovations that will help drive yet another best practice.  One can only regret not being here to see that further out evolution and the fruits of the labors of today’s “great minds” and many minds as they iteratively work toward rethinking bibliographic control for the century ahead

-- Ruth C. Carter. 

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