Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 31, Numbers 2-4  2001



Sandra K. Roe



Current = belonging to the present time = a flow of water

within a larger body of water, onward movement[1]


This collection is organized around each of the three definitions of current above.  The purpose in titling this collection, The Audiovisual Cataloging Current, is to emphasize that these papers present an up-to-date or current discussion on many aspects of cataloging audiovisual formats. 


The first section contains articles based on individual formats.  Included are sounding recordings (Terry Simpkins, Robert Freeborn), videorecordings (Jay Weitz), and electronic resources (Ann Sandberg-Fox, Nancy Olson).  Two additional format articles cover three-dimensional objects and kits (Nancy Olson) but follow in next issue (v31 n3/4).


Apart from discussions about the cataloging of individual formats, this collection goes on to include articles that reflect another definition of current – a flow of water within a larger body of water, with audiovisual formats being that flow of water.  The commitment of the library profession to catalog materials other than books is examined as a unique piece of the history of cataloging (Jean Weihs).  The development of nonbook cataloging practices and codes is depicted as being both the work of dedicated individuals, and the work of associations determined to work together. 


Three articles speak to the subject access issues of still images (Arden Alexander & Tracy Meehleib), audiovisual training materials (Lian Ruan), and moving images (Martha Yee), respectively.   In each case, the traditional vocabulary used to describe books was less than sufficient and new subject vocabularies more appropriate to the format are described or suggested.  These efforts both influence and are influenced by other developments such as electronic thesauri, taxonomies, online catalog displays, and website design. 


The final four look at audiovisual cataloging from a variety of vistas or user perspectives, each from a different type of library.  They discuss what users of academic (Sheila Intner), public (Heeja Chung), school (Scott Piepenburg), and special libraries (Diane Boehr and Meredith Horan) need from their audiovisual material collections and catalogers. 


The definition and scope of audiovisual materials is larger than this work but, generally, audiovisual materials are defined as being “not print.”  They are materials that convey their information in some way other than text on a printed page.  They have also been called “nonbook,” “nonprint,” and “special formats” and sometimes require equipment to use.  Audiovisual materials include sound recordings, film and video, graphic materials, electronic resources, three-dimensional objects, maps, and microforms.  Some audiovisual formats, like film loops, have become obsolete; others are new and still proving their marketability, like DVDs; yet others are not one distinct format like those listed above, but some combination or two or more. 


Though the term ‘audiovisual’ is often associated with school libraries and can conjure up memories of filmstrips and AV equipment deliveries to classrooms, many audiovisual formats have become ubiquitous.  In its latest description of what a librarian does, the Labor Department’s Occupational Outlook Quarterly says that librarians are “just as likely to organize websites and CDs as books and magazines.”[2]  Of the thirteen chapters devoted to description in the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed. 1998 rev., Part I, seven concern audiovisual materials.  There are so many audiovisual formats, in fact, that not all have been included in this work.  Maps, printed music, graphic materials, and microforms have been excluded. [3],[4] 


In addition to the authors and this editor, this publication is the result of the efforts of many individuals who freely lent their expertise as article referees.  As is so often the case with nonbook materials, this editor certainly sees this work as one of mixed responsibility.  I extend my heart-felt thanks to each of the following: Shelley Bader, Mark Bowman, Janis F. Brown, Ruth Carter, Pauline Atherton Cochrane, Jackie Dooley, Joanna Fountain, Betsy Friesen, Karen Granger, Janice Hardy, Samantha Hastings, Kathryn Henderson, Janet Swan Hill, Cathy Kolbinger, Kitty Kringen, Logan Ludwig, Bob Mead-Donaldson, David Miller, Alice Mitchell, Cindy Richardson, Thom Saudargas, Wendy Sistrunk, Sue Stancu, Gary Strawn, Brian Taves, Verna Urbanski, Jean Weihs, Blanche Woolls, Tom Yee, Brad Young, and Jen Young.  Thanks also to Barbara Tillett and the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR who graciously allowed three authors access to the as yet unpublished Chapter 9 “Electronic Resources” in order that these articles might reflect the most current information possible.  Finally, a special thank you to Nancy B. Olson to whom this work is dedicated. 



December 22, 2000                                                                      

[1] Derived from definitions in Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th ed., ed. Michael Agnes (New York: Macmillian USA, 1999) and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., ed. Joseph P. Pickett (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000).

[2] Olivia Crosby, “Information Experts in the Information Age, ” Occupational Outlook Quarterly (Winter 2000-01):  3.  Available online at URL:

[3] For coverage of cartographic topics, see Paige G. Andrew and Mary Lynette Larsgaard (eds.), Maps and related cartographic materials: cataloging, classification, and bibliographic control (Binghamton, N.Y.: Haworth Information Press, 1999).  Also published as Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 27 no. 1-4 (1999).

[4] Although this work does not contain an article about the descriptive cataloging of graphic materials, see Alexander and Meehleib’s article for a discussion on subject indexing of visual materials.


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