Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Volume 38, no. 1, 2004



Editorial / by Ruth C. Carter

“Old and New”

No single theme dominates this issue of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly (CCQ). Rather, the articles and features cover a wide range of topics that span old problems and new technologies as well as older solutions to ongoing issues and newer thinking on fundamental concepts.

The interview with Regina Romano Reynolds, head of the National Serials Data Program at the Library of Congress provides a lively and thought provoking look at serials cataloging, both national and international, including the revision of the rules within a context of international harmonization. Another ongoing feature, “ERC” provides an annotated guide to web based resources that can help catalogers understand the implications of Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) as developed under the auspices of IFLA.

Two authors describe a study that looks at how word division in the bibliographic records for Chinese materials affects retrieval in keyword searches with the Peking University Library (PKUL) method having a higher recall and precision than those of either OCLC or RLIN.

Retrieval is also treated in an article that discusses the relationship between classification/indexing and retrieval. In some eras, libraries have been seen as static, places for accumulating and gathering books and other documents. By having a dynamic view of the world and redefining libraries not just as locations for book collections but also as places where people fulfill their information needs, classification for the purpose of use in retrieval merits more attention.

The concept of enriching catalogs through inclusion of material about more items or provision of more information about some items is not new. Both approaches are treated in articles in this CCQ issue. Two authors discuss the University of Oklahoma library’s project to digitize the title pages of over 8,000 books, many of them rare, in the History of Science collection. By loading the title page images and their metadata into Oklahoma’s online catalog, these titles became searchable by title and author. Catalog enrichment through the addition of in-analytics is examined in the following article. The author sees in-analysis as a useful supplement to the products of commercial bibliographic databases.

A number of libraries add cataloging for government publications to catalogs through the Marcive GPO records. Two authors report on a study at the University of Arkansas that evaluated the quality of Marcive name and subject headings in order to determine whether or not these records could be loaded into the catalog without further processing. Despite an overall good quality, the percentage of headings on authority reports that required additional action was significant.

Problems connected with the assignment of book numbers (generally known as cuttering) to permit shelving of printed materials in main entry sequence within a discrete classification are an old issue. Yet the publication of print materials is showing no signs of dying down and book number assignments remain problematic in crowded areas of classification schemes. Using the Library of Congress Classification system as an example, the author of the final article explores and discusses problems connected with the assignment of book numbers.

One book review covers the new Italian translation of an old classic, Functions and objects of author and title cataloguing: a contribution to cataloguing theory by Ákos Domanovszky. Although “old,” several of Domanovszky’s functions foreshadow some of the thinking behind the concept of “entities” in the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. A second book review examines a basic guide to the cataloging of sheet maps. It also includes a useful chapter on the cataloging of historical maps. The News Column concludes the issue

As Samuel Johnson observed in writing about Alexander Pope in his Lives of the Poets, “New things are made familiar and familiar things are made new.” In similar words, one could say that what is new may be old and what is old may be made new. Bringing users together with the information each seeks is an old goal of libraries and cataloging (as well as providing an archive and history of the materials). But the technologies or methods used to achieve the desired result(s) change over time.


Occasionally, as with the advent of online catalogs with international interconnectivity and rapid access, there exists an opportunity to not only use new technology for an old purpose but to rethink basic purposes and concepts or at least to expand on the accepted tenants of cataloging and classification. Fortunately for current and future information seekers educators, theorists, and practitioners around the world have seized this opportunity to advance how we describe, classify, and access information sources regardless of format. We today as well as future generations are beneficiaries of their efforts.

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