Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 34, no. 4, 2002



Editorial / by Ruth C. Carter




Once again an issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly is notable for the variety of its content and the geographic diversity of its contributors.  This issue begins with a narrative of an interview with Filiberto Felipe Martínez Arrellano of Mexico, a member of CCQ’s editorial board and a leader in Mexican librarianship.



The ERC column provides useful information with a review of library catalogs on the Web.  The first article treats the topic of ambiguous authorship and uncertain authenticity and associated problems that arise in both selection of main entry headings and subject cataloging.  Subject indexing and Italian subject heading cataloging in the light of FRBR are examined in a theoretical piece that espouses the importance of developing theoretical frameworks for national cataloging resources within the international deliberations.



An author from England examines the second edition of the Bliss Bibliographic Classification (BC2) by using case studies to test both the praise and skepticism greeting this new release.  Cataloging issues and problems for Arabic script materials are reviewed by a Saudi Arabian author.  Two authors describe new procedures for non-traditional materials that evolved in cataloging a curriculum resource library. 



A final article looks at the need for authority control in the context of defining database quality in cataloging and online databases and the differences in philosophy between catalogers and creators of online databases.  Letters to the Editor concerning the recent CCQ opinion piece by F. H. Ayres pointing out ways in which authority control does not work and the News Column complete the issue.  Ayres’ remarks have generated considerable comment by practitioners and theorists including a lengthy discussion period on AUTOCAT.  Here four members of the profession comment on Ayres’ article followed by a response by Ayres. 


Obviously, the controversy over authority control in all its aspects is not going away.  Rather, it has reached a whole new level of discussion not just because of online catalogs but also in the context of the World Wide Web and the resources available for searching there.  An editor faced with conflicting opinions has to have some of the characteristics ascribed by the Greek historian and satirist Lucian (circa 120-180 A.D.) in De Historia Conscribena or How History Should Be Written. [1]  Impartiality and giving each side what it deserves are among the desirable traits Lucian cited.  He continued: “He should know in his writings no country and no city; he should bow to no authority and acknowledge no king.  He should never consider what this or that man will think, but should state the facts as they really occurred.”  It has always been my goal for CCQ to have a balanced approach and this includes presenting diverse views on authority control or the many other topics in bibliographic control receiving consideration and debate around the world today.


Current evidence of the keen interest in authority control exists in multiple ways and places.  One example is that an international conference on authority control focusing on “Definition and International Experiences” is scheduled for Florence, Italy in February 2003.  Additionally, a theme issue of CCQ on authority control is in initial stages of development.  There will be much more to come as we answer not just the questions of Why authority? Why control? but debate how to accomplish authority control or other quality control mechanisms in a manner that is cost effective as well as of benefit to both current and future users in an international environment.  Not an easy task but a challenge worth pursuit!


As someone with several degrees in history I have a great interest in the past as well as the present and the future.  We know that today will be tomorrow’s past and that there are seldom dramatic breaks but rather that cataloging and classification theory and practice, like other aspects of the human experience, are a constantly evolving continuum.  Because I think that an historical perspective is so important I am very pleased to note that the next volume of CCQ (volume 35) is devoted to historical aspects of cataloging broadly defined.  Martin Joachim, the guest editor, has amassed an amazing and fascinating cross section of authors and topics that represent all continents (except Antarctica) and well over five hundred years of history.  I do hope you will join me in looking forward to this exciting volume of CCQ.


 [1] Respectfully Quoted; A Dictionary of Quotations, Suzy Platt, editor.  New York, NY: Dorset Press, 1992, p. 329.



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