Volume 50, no. 4, 2012


Book Reviews

Structures for Organizing Knowledge: Exploring Taxonomies, Ontologies, and Other Schemas by June Abbas
Reviewed by Yejun Wu

Introducing RDA: A Guide to the Basics by Chris Oliver
Reviewed by Mirna Willer


Cataloging News, Robert Bothmann, News Editor

The International Observer
IT, That Obscure Object of Desire: on French Anthropology, Museum Visitors, Airplane Cockpits, RDA, and the Next Generation Catalog
David Bade


Original Articles

Mapping Relationships: Examining Bibliographic Relationships in Sheet Maps from Tillett to RDA
Tami Morse

ABSTRACT: This study presents a qualitative examination of the applicability of several taxonomies of bibliographic relationships to sheet maps. Examples of relationships between sheet maps are identified and typed using the systems developed by Tillett and Smiraglia and the taxonomy of relationships described in the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) conceptual model and in Resource Description and Access (RDA). This process reveals that while many of the relationship categories in these systems apply well to sheet maps, some are not applicable at all while others may apply with some redefinition.

KEYWORDS: case studies, data models, maps, entity-relationships modeling, Resource Description and Access (RDA)

Library of Congress Classification: Teddy Roosevelt's World in Numbers?
Colin Higgins

ABSTRACT: This article identifies late nineteenth-century American preoccupations and prejudices within the Library of Congress classification scheme, suggesting that these ought to be of concern to the worldwide community of classifiers who now apply the scheme beyond its original context. The approach of the article is both historical and critical. It uses a number of examples to demonstrate how the ideological content of the classification scheme fails to adequately represent contemporary global realities, while recognizing, and applauding, its essential pragmatism.

KEYWORDS: Library of Congress Classification, Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), national libraries, college and university libraries, classification systems

The Aphasia of Modern Subject Access
Jonathan Tuttle

ABSTRACT: Why do catalogers use two systems, one notational like Library of Congress Classification (LCC) and the other terminological like Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), to reach the same goal: subject description and access? This article, divided into two parts, first surveys the library science literature to address the unsatisfying answers given to that question and, secondly, provides a new answer based on the linguistic theory of Roman Jakobson. Jakobson's theory that language is always twofold, the act of selecting words paired with the act of combining words, is proposed as a theory of subject access, with LCSH doing the work of selection and LCC thework of combination.

KEYWORDS: catalogers, subject cataloging, Library of Congress Classification, Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), library catalogs/OPACs

Cataloguing and Classification Education in Gulf Cooperation Council Countries
Khalfan Al Hijji

A content analysis approach was adopted to analyze relevant literature and course syllabi for the purpose of examining cataloguing and classification education in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Important findings of this study include: traditional knowledge organization is still at the core of bibliographic control education; there are changes and developments in teaching methods; cooperative cataloguing, and partnerships with major specialized utilities are in the interest of educators; and emphasis on the practical part of cataloguing education is increasing to as much as 50% of the total teaching hours in some courses.

KEYWORDS: cataloging and classification education, Library and Information Science (LIS) education, LIS curricula, bibliographic control, descriptive cataloging, subject cataloging, classification

Providing Access to E-Audiobooks: Help from the Non-Cataloger
Eva Sorrell

There are a growing number of Web sites that offer free eaudiobooks. Providing access to these e-audiobooks can be a challenge for libraries, particularly with shrinking budgets and staff. The author describes a process created at California State University-San Bernardino to re-record and catalog currently popular public domain e-audiobooks with a goal of making the cataloging simple enough that a non-cataloger can perform the task.

KEYWORDS: cataloging, non-musical sound recordings, audiobooks, spoken word sound recordings

Creating Provider-Neutral Records for E-Books
Shelley L. Smith

After boxes of uncataloged microforms were discovered at my library, we learned that many of the titles were available as free electronic books, so I added bibliographic records to the local catalog for the e-versions. Some bibliographic records existed in OCLC WorldCat for the electronic versions, but they were not always provider-neutral. I learned how to create the new provider-neutral record and want to share my experience. Other librarians may want to replicate my project at their institutions, weeding their microforms and supplanting those records with e-book bibliographic records, thereby providing instant online access to these resources for their patrons.

KEYWORDS: microforms, e-books, electronic books, provider-neutral, e-monographs, reproductions, bibliographic records


The International Observer

IT, That Obscure Object of Desire: on French Anthropology, Museum Visitors, Airplane Cockpits, RDA, and the Next Generation Catalog


And the first error was, and remains, the belief that the solutions to problems of description
and communication were purely technical.
—Martine Poulain1

Don't let the title fool you: this column is neither about RDA online nor about next generation catalogs. It is about research projects at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) and elsewhere in France in which researchers have been studying the adoption and appropriation of new information technologies from anthropological, sociological and semiological perspectives for the past two decades. The relevance of that research to the current situation of cataloging in libraries is the topic of this column. In the research projects that I discuss in this column, I have found many matters of longstanding interest to me studied in great depth, and current ideas and attitudes towards information technologies questioned and challenged. Most importantly, everywhere the engagement has been with the actual use of technologies rather than an emphasis on what users could do or what the systems will someday be able to do for us. I will begin where I began: with Victor Scardigli.

In 2005 I stumbled upon Victor Scardigli's book Les sens de la technique as part of my continuing research on understanding success and failure in the use of technical systems.2 I liked the book, enough so that I looked around and found a later book of his: Une anthropologue chez les automates. That book was the result of a succession of research projects at CNRS: "Socioanthropologie des technologies nouvelles", "Pilote, contrôleur et automate", and "Intégration de la dimension socioculturelle dans la conception et la conduite des avions fortement automatisés".3 In his ethnographic description of cockpit designers, the cockpits they designed and their intentions in designing them as they did one can easily see parallels with work on catalog and database design. I found further parallels in his discussions of how those designs were understood, used and sometimes misunderstood, misused and even refused by the intended users of those cockpits. On both design and use, I thought how relevant his research was to studies of library catalogs and their users. Pursuing his work I found a volume coedited by Alain Gras, Bernward Joerges and Scardigli: Sociologie des techniques de la vie quotidienne. Inside, not only Gras (whom I already knew and appreciated), but Philippe Breton and David Le Breton as well, two of my favorites. And then I noticed an article on libraries by someone named Joëlle Le Marec.

Looking for more by Le Marec I discovered that she had founded the research group "Communication, Culture et Société" in 2002. The work of her group introduced me to a number of other authors and publications that proved to be equally relevant and interesting: Igor Babou, Cécile Dérioz, Yves Jeanneret, Jacques Perriault and Emmanuel Souchier. Some of the names I found associated with this research already carried a lot of weight with me: Isabelle Stengers is listed as a member of the jury of Le Marec's habilitation, and Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond was on the jury of Igor Babou's. There was a special issue of Hermès (the journal of the Institut des sciences de la communication du CNRS) devoted to information technology with an article by André Vitalis on Ellul. There were others, like Le Marec herself and those mentioned earlier in this paragraph, whom I soon came to respect just as much. One big surprise was the presence of Oxford linguist Roy Harris; he had been invited to CNRS right at the beginning, and his book Sémiologie de l'écriture appears to have had a major impact on thinking about reading and writing, texts and technologies among researchers at CNRS.

The year 1990 is the best place to begin for in that year Le Marec published Dialogue ou labyrinthe?, her study of how visitors to the Bibliothèque publique d'information in the Centre Georges Pompidou used its new catalogs Geac and Lise which went public in 1988.4 Although this may seem to be too outdated to have any bearing on the problems of our plans for 'next-generation catalogs', that is not at all the case. In its time her study was a brilliant critique of previous user studies, as Martine Poulain notes in the preface to her book.

In our time Le Marec's study is still a brilliant critique of user studies, but it appears to have been little studied across the Franco-American divide: for the United States, OCLC listed only the New York Public Library as having a copy when I sought to obtain her book last year (many copies are available in Canadian libraries), and there are now only two copies listed, the other having been purchased by the University of Chicago Library at my request. Many library user surveys and studies of research practices have been published in the United States and Great Britain during the past decade and subsequently studied, promoted and used as the basis for planning and forecasting the future of libraries and library catalogs, yet to my knowledge none of them have cited Le Marec's 1990 study nor any of her subsequent publications on the use of information technologies in scholarly communication. The British Library/JISC report "Researchers of Tomorrow"5 in fact cites not a single work in any language other than English, and in this it is exactly like the OCLC sponsored study by Palmer, Teffeau and Pirmann.6 Twenty years of fascinating, brilliant, ground breaking, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research on the uses of new information technologies in research and scholarly communication, including studies of library catalogs, was simply ignored on this side of the Atlantic.

There have been some interesting survey results and observations published in the United States, but all of them have left me with a feeling that something was wrong. As I read the report from the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control and the reports from Indiana University and the University of California, the pictures of the library users that these studies presented seemed to me to be too much an artifact of the survey instrument, test design or the researchers' assumptions. When I first read the British Library/JISC report mentioned above it was immediately after finishing Le Marec's monographs; I wrote on the report throughout "cf. Le Marec." After reading Le Marec, the problems with these later studies were obvious.

If we wish to study the users of libraries and library catalogs what sort of questions ought we to be asking? Of whom? To what degree does the study of library users itself—the questions asked, the subjects interrogated and the manner of that interrogation—determine the object of study? In their study of Geac and Lise, Le Marec's research team decided at the start to "take the point of view of the users and study the system's characteristics through observing the visitors' practices"7 rather than adopting the methodology of earlier studies. This approach differed from a simple evaluation of the effectiveness of technical systems because it allowed them to avoid making their study a comparison between the new and the old systems. A comparison between the old and the new systems, the team believed, "would easily and almost irresistibly be influenced by ideas about the new system that were all the more powerful for not being fully formulated." Chief among those ideas was that "the visitor, thanks to these systems, would be capable of doing everything the old system could do, and better, as well as many more things." Those new capabilities would be "intrinsic to the machine, determined by its design" and could be observed directly in the practices of users.8 They decided instead to adopt an entirely qualitative methodology and to study not what they thought the new catalog could do, but to observe the actual usage of the library's visitors.

The first point Le Marec makes in her discussion of the results of the study is that the technological object attracted those who came to the library, "very probably increasing the number of users of the library catalog."9 Some users of the new systems had never used a library catalog before, and she mentions the extreme case of one person interviewed who had no interest in the library but came on the advice of a friend solely in order to try the new technology. The keyboard with a screen, "that obscure object of desire ... is not neutral, nor is its placement. ... Before the visitor decides what he is interested in, the new tools are arranged in front of his eyes. The simple fact of having seen them can influence the decision of whether or not to use them."10

One of the most interesting discussions in the book concerns the effects of the test on user behavior. During the first stage of their study the researchers had simply observed and recorded usage, while during the next stage they asked test subjects about the searches they performed and their search strategies.

During test conditions, the variety of individual approaches that were observed in the first part of the study disappeared. ... In the presence of the researcher, notably, the users often preferred to formulate their query using keywords rather than sequences of words in ordinary syntax [the opposite of what happened during the purely observational stag—DB]. ... The test conditions "conditioned" a certain type of procedure: an analytic procedure by stages, explicit and in anticipation of the successive situations. ... The experiment destroyed what we wanted to observe.11

The title of Le Marec's book draws attention to the discrepancy between the user's expectation of a dialogue with the system and the reality of search strategies in a labyrinthine catalog. Thinking of the online catalog in terms of queries and responses prevented the users from realizing the dynamics of the system as one of programmed discontinuities. Interestingly, the help screens of those systems were least likely to be imagined as places of dialogue by the users (p. 50). She suggested that improvements to the system should involve both efforts to prevent the user from misunderstanding their search as a dialogue and efforts to present more clearly to the user information about what is actually happening during the search. Both kinds of improvements are necessary in order to permit the users to understand better what they have done, what were the results of their actions, and what are the options for proceeding. This advice was written prior to the dream of the Semantic Web and offers a perspective on future technical development that contrasts sharply with current popular opinion: not more under-the-hood programming, but more tools, information and guidance out in the open for the users.

In his book Un anthropologue chez les automates12 Victor Scardigli interviewed and studied a very different set of users of information technology—and a very different technology—but what he found nicely complements Le Marec's studies in libraries and museums. The Centre national de la recherche scientifique announced the publication of his book in April 2001 with a short notice in which we read:

With the development of cockpit engineering, one aim has been to replace those involved in flight by machines. Automation is spreading: the highly computerized Airbus 320 has already challenged the pilot's superiority inside in the cockpit. Data-link networks could soon connect a large number of planes and decision centers, bringing about a kind of technological sociability between navigation and surveillance computers that would supplant traditional interaction between humans. However, on several occasions, this trend has been thwarted by pilots and controllers. Does the reluctance of the users reveal an irrational, anti-scientific attitude or self-interest? ...

Two human communities with diverging cultures came to light. When engineers build the technological framework for tomorrow's civilization, they implicitly refer to their own vision of the world, based on an abstract understanding of time and space, accidents and human factors. Distrusting the user's human motivations and weaknesses, they deny his/her expertise and autonomy. ... But the users—and the citizens—of this information society will keep to their own, more composite vision of the world: one where science and intuition, empirically-based expertise and tradition are combined. Flight systems follow the designers' Cartesian logic, which is sometimes quite different from pilots' experience.13

In a column such as this I cannot go into the kind of detailed discussion that this book deserves, much less deal with all the related material published by CNRS researchers. What I will do is to offer a fast run through the book by means of my notes on it, most of which were fast and rough translations or abstracts of passages. While reading my notes on Scardigli's book the reader should keep in mind statements emanating from the library world such as the following:

Nextgen catalogs do not currently have a search algorithm that is robust enough to pull up perfect results every time. This shows that commercial search engines are more advanced than library search engines. It also probably means there are problems with the back-end data.14

Much as I am also irritated by users who don't know a keyword from a hole in the ground, the tendency to blame the user for not knowing how to use a catalog is exactly the kind of thinking that got us into this mess to start with. Yes, users are idiots. But good systems are designed for idiots and help idiots be successful despite their idiocy. That's why Google is so popular, and why catalogs are not. Any tool that requires "instruction" to use is doomed.15

Generation Y doctoral students, in common with others, are quite risk averse and 'behind the curve' in using digital technology, not at the forefront; and this despite the fact that the majority of Generation Y students answering the survey and in the cohort appear to be keen users of the latest technology applications in their personal lives.16

Perfect results every time, users are idiots, and not adopting the latest technology makes you 'behind the times' rather than an intelligent consumer who does not run after every new commodity available solely because it is available: here we see in splendid honesty the ideological world of technology imagined as the best of all possible worlds (perfect results every time), as that which makes life possible for idiot humans (rather than learning), and rejection of which damns you as a backward opponent of progress and utopia realized. If we abandon these ideological prejudices, the big question, in both airplane and library catalog design, remains how to design systems for intelligent human beings who live in the real world rather than for the imaginary users and systems of an all too human designer.

Scardigli notes in his introduction that his research grew out of a "feeling that the digital paradigm seems stuck, whether by a dominant school of thought or by engineers who have failed to master the complexity of the world but blame the incompetent users instead" (p. 8). In the first chapter "Who is creating the information society?" he notes that digital technologies presuppose that the whole of reality is transformable into quantifiable information; that transformation is not innocent (p. 11). The engineers whom he studied refused or forgot the corporal dimension of the human being in the cockpit, eliminated social relations, and regarded automation as the ultimate object of the information society. He notes that one significant consequence of automation is that it leads to a great distance between any action and the one who planned that action (p. 12). Automation is often seen as a threat to individuals but he found that a more important effect of automation was upon social relations and culture in the anthropological sense (p. 14). Products of technical production are rarely understood as an act of persons within a culture who are realizing a project—technical objects are understood technically but not socially (p. 23). A single logic of power determines the changing techniques for aviation, with each change the engineer gains power over the actual users of the system who become ever more dependent on the designers (p. 29).

In the second chapter "Almost without a pilot" he discusses how in the face of problems and crashes following the installation of automated cockpits aeronautic engineers blamed the pilots: it was not a problem with the technologies but the pilots who did not understand how to use the software or how to dialogue (remember Le Marec!) with the computer; do the actions of the pilots (upon which blame for accidents was placed) reveal the irrationality of the pilots or the discordance between two rationalities of action during the actual conditions of flight (logical versus empirical representations of the world)? Every real flight takes place in a reality completely different from that which the designers foresaw and how they thought of their invention (p. 43); the automated systems and their manner of operation are far removed from the pilot's manner of thinking and acting (p. 44). The actions arising from the logic of the system are not entirely predictable in any real world conditions because no one can know exactly what information the system is getting and therefore what actions it will do without the pilot's knowledge; the result is that the pilots are unsure what the system may do: in the user's view those systems became unpredictable and capricious and hence untrustworthy, and this led to pilot associations refusing to use the new systems (i.e., the pilots were rational in rejecting a system that appeared to act irrationally) (p. 45).

Scardigli proceeds to describe why the design teams brought in pilots to participate in the design. The history of cockpit automation reveals that the progressive putting into place of the digital society has not been the ineluctable result of a purely technical evolution but rather the result of a human choice underwritten by a project relentlessly pursued: progress towards a different social organization through the complete transformation of a human activity into information (p. 71). The designer decides what is good and therefore what is bad; he participates in a choice for society, his decision altering the social relations of aeronautics (p. 80). System failures leading to airplane crashes or other accidents are understood in terms of the statistical probabilities of an accident; accidents are normal and expected (cf. Perrow). But when a human is found to be at fault, the accident is no longer normal, no longer a statistical probability but a moral fault, and the pilot is judged according to moral values, not statistical probabilities (p. 91: let us bring this matter into the discussion of metadata!).

Giving the power of decision making to the automated system, Scardigli notes in chapter five, is a social organizational revolution and not a technical revolution (p. 116). He quotes an engineer who insisted that the automatic features are a necessity imposed by the performance demands of the clients but Scardigli remarks that in reality the passengers were never consulted at any time in the design process. The engineer interviewed believed that only the best technical innovations would catch on, that there would be no other options, and that people would have to adapt to the technologies, for the reverse is impossible. The engineers believed that technical innovation will transform society and human beings will adapt to it, as they always do (p. 117).

For the designers, the perfect machine requires the elimination of the fallible human actor (p. 152); from their point of view, human communication poses a major problem; accidents are often due to pronunciation errors, translation errors, misinterpretation, inattention; perfect operability demands the elimination of the human factor (p. 153). Technical relations — links — will replace social relations and human communication (p. 154). (How relevant is that to the next generation catalog?) However, a rash of accidents erupted in the early 1990s and led to an acknowledgment of the complexity of the real world. The cultural diversity of pilots throughout the world - such as the fact that they did not all speak or read English well or even at all - was finally admitted to be an unavoidable factor in the operation of a global aeronautics communication system (p. 164). Instead of being the guarantee of system safety, automatization had led to an increase in complexity for the pilots - the reverse of what had been claimed and expected. With the increasing complexity of the system even the designers could no longer predict how the system would represent flight conditions to itself, much less how it would represent its own condition to itself (p. 169). What was previously regarded as human fallibility came to be understood as human flexibility in a world that was real rather than a designer's model, a flexibility that automation could not supply (p. 170).

The next chapter brings us to the beginning of the network era. Just when the designers had recognized that their failures were due to their inadequate understanding of the users and uses of technology and had not only brought those users back into the design process but began again to design tools in which the human user would be in control, the internet was invented. The book stops shortly thereafter (circa 1998), posing questions about how to keep the system user in the center of the design process under those new and developing social and technical conditions.

Scardigli addresses a central concern of mine in his concluding chapter. The increasing complexity of technical systems requires that they be trusted rather than understood, and in this they require a belief in magic as a condition of their efficacy (p. 229). New technologies announce an impossibility, Scardigli argues: a human being that is a purely cognitive system, a human being without humanity, deprived of all the values, culture, conscience and emotions of our species. Such a creature, he writes, could neither trust nor use, much less create the technologies whose designers imagine and assume his existence (p. 230). Scardigli's anthropological concerns appear here clearly: the cockpit designers revealed themselves in their interviews to be involved in a grand project of creating a perfect machine, and that machine was a reflection of how they thought of themselves in comparison to the users: without fault and without a mistake strewn history, to which Scardigli added, without reality (p. 231). His conclusion is that our society places great value on the expertise of the inventors of complex tools, but denies that expertise and any corresponding value to the users of the technologies.

Almost everything Scardigli has discussed in this book as in others17 has a direct relevance to our work with tools designed for users of libraries, databases and a wide variety of electronic resources. Many of the issues discussed by Scardigli appear in the other research projects which I want to discuss briefly since all these projects - from Le Marec in 1988 to Tardy, Davallon and Jeanneret in 2007, and presumably beyond in works I have not read18 - focus on users of information technology.

The work of Roy Harris has been immensely influential in my understanding of cataloging, and in some of this research his influence is directly evident (i.e., in citation). Lire, écrire, récrire : Objets, signes et pratiques dans les médias informatisés edited by Souchier, Jeanneret and Le Marec is a collection of essays on writing and reading using information technologies.19 The presence of Harris is most marked in the editors' introduction and in the paper by Davallon, Noel-Cadet and Brochu. The latter studied the use of Gallica (the digital library of the National Library of France) by looking at how other web sites linked to it and how they put those links in context.20 Users of Gallica who provided links to it on their web pages always did so with accompanying description directed at particular kinds of users for particular kinds of uses. This, the authors noted, contrasted markedly with the manner in which the contents of Gallica were listed on the Gallica site itself, i.e., it was designed for a generic user present only in the minds of the system's designers. Usage of a digital library reveals that the semiotic, social and technical are present equally in the objects mediated as in the social practices of the users. One of the conclusions in this paper was that when studying the usage of digital libraries if we look at usage from the dynamic point of view of the users rather than the static point of view represented in the system design then our understanding of the functioning of a website must be completely revised (p. 80). They offer a critical perspective on an approach to digital libraries that understands the media object as fashioning the practices in which it is involved.

Also in that collection is a paper by Babou and Le Marec, "De l'étude des usages à une théorie des 'composites': objets, relations et normes en bibliothèque" [From the study of use to a theory of 'composites': objects, relations and norms in the library]21. The notion of 'composite' was developed at greater length in Le Marec's habilitation.22 Composites are "situations in which individuals mobilise the significance of material objects and representations, acting upon them and putting into action systems of norms or regulations all at the same time." The situation the authors studied: catalogers at work. This is a unique, iconoclastic and brilliant study of catalogers as professionals from a semiotic and ethnological perspective. Just a glimpse until someone translates it and publishes it in CCQ:

Ethnology furnishes us with keys for interpretation. The question regarding the relation to change in societies as posed in certain works could help us escape from the narrow perspectives of the sociology of innovation that are focused on the effects of technological changes in the wake of information technologies. The attitudes of actors in the face of change brought about by the introduction of networks could be seen otherwise than as reactions to that innovation in terms of resistance or acceptance. Ethnology allows us to avoid adhering a priori to a conception of change as being either naturally positive or technological in its very nature: it puts the practices and the institutions studied in larger spatial and temporal perspectives.23

In their conclusion they ask whether anyone would take seriously an effort to write a sociology of pencils in order to analyze writing practices in libraries. Certainly not, but we are doing the same thing when we focus on information technology as a technical object and with that object as a given we proceed to examine library practices involving those objects. Their point is that a pencil was never a purely technical object but was used in many social practices, and the same is true of our technologies today. We must stop making the technologies the central object of study and the unit of analysis and make the users and their practices the focus of our attention. And we will find, as they did, that penciled messages on post-it notes affixed to computers plays as important a role in everyday practice as do the new information technologies. And that, they insist, is not resistance to change but effective adaptation to the capabilities and limits of each of the technologies available for us to use. Brilliant!

Yves Jeanneret's Y-a-t-il (vraiment) des technologies de l'information?24 is simply stunning. In this book Jeanneret shows how radically Harris's integrationist semiology can transform our understanding of communication technologies. In addition to Harris, his bibliography includes references to Souchier, David Olson and Alessandro Zinna, three other scholars who draw upon Harris's work.25 His book includes numerous discussions of library catalogs, databases, search engines, metadata for image retrieval and the use of documents in archival research, as well as asking some very important questions about digitization, interactivity, intuitive design and transparence. His discussion of the semiological differences between library catalogs and search engines on pages 68-70 is excellent, as is a later discussion of the communicational presuppositions of databases.

Written under the direction of Jeanneret, Dominique Cotte's thesis Des médias au travail deals in part with one of the great problems that RDA has attempted to address: the separation of form, content and context in digital documents. In traditional semiology, signs and messages are considered a unity of form and content; this is in contrast to digital documents which are commonly understood in information science to involve a content - a "work" in FRBR terms - that can be packaged, formatted, displayed or realized in any number of forms (manifestations, expressions, items). On this matter Cotte finds Harris's work of considerable importance:

That question of the document in itself raises in turn a methodological problem to which we shall return. Even though it does not deal with documents as such, the integrational semiology of Harris is of great interest in so far as it considers the material support/form as being an integral part of the message and of the object of study. Harris thus opposes a semiology that would "understand [writing] simply as the expression of a message" to "a semiology in which writing is conceived as the textualisation of an object". 26

To this Cotte adds that it is also "a textualisation of practices (but aren't the objects also the petrified remains of preceding practices?)". She quotes Harris:

From the integrational point of view, the second option is necessary since it is impossible to analyse the integration of a message by itself in social life. In fact, the "message itself", the pure message, the message stripped bare, without material support, without author and without intended destination does not exist except as the product of an intellectual operation which makes of it an abstraction, ignoring everything pertaining to human communication. 27

Cotte finds that Harris's understanding of the context of a message as including its integration into social practices "resonates greatly today with the disarticulation of the document in what we call digital documents. The question ... of the 'separation of form/context' in XML could be fruitfully studied from the perspective of Harris's contextual semiology."28 For readers unfamiliar with Harris's semiology, let me add that his perspective is that of the speaker/writer, the one communicating in the act of communication using any of the available resources and means of communication; it is not the perspective of language, information or documents as systems of signs existing in themselves, whether mashed up, linked to or floating freely in the noosphere. And the semiology of human communication using technical systems has everything to do with FRBR, RDA and library catalogs of this, the next, or any other generation.

Harris's influence appears in a number of papers written or co-written by Emmanuël Souchier, such as "Citer, indexer ou cartographier" co-written with I. Garron and J.-L. Minel, in which the central topic is the question of citation in the logic of Internet writing.29 In "Les médias informatisés comme organisation des pratiques de savoir" three professors of information science - Tardy, Davallon and Jeanneret - argue that the process of computer mediated communication constantly transforms what it is supposed to represent and therefore we must not think about knowledge organization using digital media as the simple production and use of an unchanging object understood as the content of communication: assumptions regarding possible use and effective utilization shape the whole of the communication through its transformations in use.30 Laurence Schmoll discusses user models of readers revealed in pedagogically oriented Internet sites, looking specifically at sites oriented towards teaching French as a foreign language,31 and Nathalie Noel-Cadet offers a sociological view of usage of museum multimedia Internet sites, examining three types of mediation: interactive, simulated and virtual.32

Another remarkable thinker—Jacques Perriault—has been around a long time; his book Éléments pour un dialogue avec l'informaticien was published in 1971 and in it are references to even earlier publications. Of particular interest to me for this column are two papers published in the journal Hermès published by CNRS in 2004 and 2006 respectively33, and his 1989 monograph La logique de l'usage: essai sur les machines à communiquer.34 The two papers deal with norms and standards in a global and digital information system as political issues, with particular reference to online education and online access to knowledge. Short, critical discussions of metadata standards among others, by someone who understands that technological issues in a global system are always political issues. Regarding the earlier book, I shall here give a translation of an excerpt from the publisher's blurb on the cover of the book:

Inventors have never ceased to imagine machines for producing artificial objects to listen to and view. Such were the magic lantern and the phonograph. Such are today's high definition television and compact discs. Faced with these discoveries, the public is always disrespectful. They rarely respect the intentions of the technicians and often divert the device from its original (intended) function.

Precursor of what is now called ethnotechnology, Jacques Perriault narrates here the history of these practices and demonstrates that the manner in which communication technologies are used is in fact progressively constructed. In opposition to the logic of the technician, users are nevertheless not incoherent. Beyond the rejections and diversions, they follow and produce a singular logic: the logic of use.35

Perriault describes the dreams, desires and projects that gave birth to various forms of communication technologies, demonstrating in the process that these have a very long history, linking motion pictures and virtual reality to Plato's cave. Yet his is not a history of inventions but a history of how inventions come to be used. Such facts as that the telephone was first conceived and invented in order to act as an aid to the deaf are put into relation with the actual facts of their evolving uses. He notes that

The authors that we have consulted all say the same thing in one way or another, that after the appearance of these machines nothing will ever be the same again. For these authors, the machine [telephone, camera, video, computer...—dwb] creates a rupture, a qualitative leap in the evolution of humanity. With the phonograph, the dead were restored to life through their voice ... 36

Perriault published these remarks long before Timothy Leary downloaded his soul into a (now obsolete) technical system and the mass suicides of the Heaven's Gate cult, but he was well aware of the connections between the technological imagination and the "frequently messianic character of the behavior associated with it."37 that communication technologies find their uses gradually only after leaving behind the dreams and intentions of the inventors. The main reason for that is that for the inventors, the machine itself is the project to realize, while for any and all users of that machine once it has been produced, the use of the machine itself is oriented towards the accomplishment of other ends. "For the user, the purpose of the machine is not, in general, to make the machine work but to make it work in the service of something that has nothing to do with the technology."38 This, he notes, is a dynamic relation between users and technology, something that changes as new uses are fashioned by the users. The logic of use is, he concludes, a "logic of resistance" that refashions the tool to fit the user, not the user to fit the tool. "The role of the logic of usage is principally to determine its reason for being, in a given situation. ... A dialectic exists, which is linked to the functioning of society itself. It is due to the simple fact that not all people are inventors. Thus the source of the logic of usage resides in this difference of basic potential: some people invest themselves in technological discovery, others do not."39

Still another book with considerable interest for those interested in library users is the collective monograph Premiers usages des Cédéroms de musées.40 Joëlle Le Marec is one of the authors of this study, and as one might expect, it includes comparisons between the use of CDROMs in museums and online library catalogs. Some of their findings and conclusions were:

  • The relations that the users establish with the CD means it is used differently - not instead of - other media such as books, videos, etc.;
  • Of the first time users who tried out the CDs in the museum NONE wanted to buy the CDs after using them. Why? Access too complicated, too difficult, the structure of access was not transparent, the significance of the order or organization was not evident and gave first time users the impression of incoherence, CDs were more time consuming than a book, both to use and to consult. The authors suggest that this reveals a complete disconnect between the advertised and commonly believed image of CDROMs as easy, interactive and with greater content and the reality as the users described it.
  • The practice of not using a CD "comes with" the technology itself, for all usage is constructed by the users.
  • When the user has an actual project (rather than being a casual or merely curious visitor to the museum), the intentions of the designers and the assumptions about the future users and the structure of the contents are simply ignored or circumvented/surmounted by the user who makes it do what he or she wants to do. On the other hand, for users without a specific project the structure of the CD - aleatory, non-linear, unconnected bits of information - defeats the user. The technical difficulties are irrelevant to the user with a project; they are insurmountable for the user with no real purpose.
  • The users were nearly unanimous in complaining about the lack of information about the content of the CDROM, what kind of usage it was made to support, what you could do with it (print, etc.), how to navigate, etc. The information that was there was information intended to promote sales, not to inform the potential users.

I began with Le Marec, and I would like to return to her by way of her 2007 monograph Publics et musées,41 and follow that with brief notes on a few other papers. Publics et musées takes us well beyond the concerns of Dialogue ou labyrinthe?, discussing the educational role of museums, popularization and communication in science. In putting these concerns together she puts back together the fractured world perspectives arising from the social and cultural divisions created and fostered by science and professionalism. This is a matter of extraordinary importance for me as a librarian; this was in fact an early intuition of mine that studying the works of Carlo Revelli suddenly made clear: cataloging is not an autonomous activity. Librarians often appear to think—at least they often speak and write—as if what they are engaged in is simply providing access to information, as though the information itself is no more their concern than why library users want it and what they do with it once they have it. In contrast, museums have always had an educational mission and hire scientists to work in them and not just people with museum studies degrees. She explores museum users in relation to their social practices, frequently relating her discussion to libraries as well. Unlike her 1990 book, this book is au courant; like her earlier book it is brilliant. Let me demonstrate.

User surveys, she complains on page 110, often seem to ask questions as though the practices being investigated are autonomous, i.e. going to the library has no necessary relation to the fact that libraries already exist. The purpose of the institution is sought through the survey questions when in fact it is the existence of the institution and the purposes for which it was established that creates the practices associated with library use. Studies of library and museum use almost always forget that.

If that did not make you cry for joy, the last paragraph in her book ought at least to make you cry in despair:

Throughout all the surveys, those in the past as well as the present, the publics surveyed expressed a faith in the museum as an institution and in the quality of what they could expect, and that result contrasted strongly with the disenchanted visions circulating among the museum professionals.42

The disenchanted visions she mentions occupy a large part of the discussion in her book, and they are, to state it briefly, that museum administrators think of their institutions as players in a market and library/museum visitors as consumers (sound familiar?). Yet none of the users Le Marec's team interviewed thought of themselves as consumers. They did not come to buy, they came to learn.

Between her 1990 and 2007 monographs Le Marec published a number of papers devoted to library and museum use,43 including four papers on the topic of interactivity.44 With Igor Babou she has published a paper on librarians at work45 and several papers on communication in science in the context of libraries, museums and their publics.46 Two other items that I want to mention are Cécile Derioz's thesis on the role of the public in organizational change in libraries and museums, a thesis directed by Joëlle Le Marec, and a special issue of the journal Culture et musées edited by Le Marec: Évolution des rapports entre sciences et société au musée: dispositifs, discours, énonciation, publics.47

All of the work discussed in this column is remarkably consistent in its focus on users and uses of information technologies. Le Marec, Perriault and Scardigli's work in particular have an extraordinary importance for understanding current debates regarding cataloging because of the attitudes towards the users of technologies in libraries held by many of the important voices in the cataloging community. Exactly like the engineers whom Scardigli interviewed, many in the library cataloging community have a faith in computers that goes hand in hand with a devaluation and contempt for human abilities. Intner, for instance, wrote the following in 1990:

I believe the fullness and accuracy in records produced by machines will far outstrip those in records produced by humans in most library cataloging departments ... If cataloging were removed from the hands of well-meaning but unschooled library staff and put into the realm of automatic computerized production, it would improve immediately. Between trusting a host of different humans with different educations, backgrounds, biases, and capabilities or a host of different computers all running the same expertly-programmed system to do the best job of cataloging, I'll bet on the computer every time.48

Intner's antihumanism of the early 1990s is not an embarassing relic of the past but may be found throughout recent discussions of metadata, linked data and the semantic web which, we are told, is the future for library resource discovery. Certainly linked data and the semantic web will have some part in our future if for no other reasons than that they are being promoted to the exclusion of all other possibilities by most of the professionals with any power to influence local decision making and national policy. The question is whether those planning our organizational structures and designing our technical systems see themselves like the designers of airplane cockpits as designing systems that will in and by themselves produce perfect results through the elimination of the unpredictable and variable human actors who have been the primary forces behind the working of libraries and their catalogs to date. Another question is whether these systems being planned and designed are being designed for the real users studied by Scardigli, Le Marec and their colleagues, or whether they are being designed according to some user model as out of touch with reality as were the technicians and administrators interviewed by Scardigli and Le Marec. We do know that the system of bibliographical control advocated by the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control is one in which machines are expected to be the "primary users":

Further development of standards will be based on evidence arising from changing use patterns. The library community will realize that bibliographic data need to support a variety of user, management, and machine needs. In particular, it will be recognized that human users and their needs for display and discovery do not represent the only use of bibliographic metadata; instead, to an increasing degree, machine applications are their primary users. Data will be designed and developed with this in mind. 49

To claim that machines are users is simply to ignore the fact that people are using those machines to do something: the machines follow instructions according to their human users' purposes, and those humans are living and acting in the real world, not the world of any user model or semantic web - unless, of course, we are designing for the semantic web's perfect user, the spammer. Judging from the report's bibliography none of the members of the Working Group read anything discussed in this column nor anything published in French (or any language other than English). Is there any excuse for such an omission on the part of American library leaders?

The cultural conflict examined throughout all of the publications discussed above is that between two clearly defined and extraordinarily homogenous social groups that deal with models and simulacra and an ever increasing power - programmers and managers - and another extremely heterogeneous group - more exactly groups - of persons who for diverse reasons wish to or are obliged to use the tools developed and imposed by the first two groups and who are all of them increasingly losing control over their own activities as corporations and institutions determine what tools will be designed and how and for what purposes. It is not just class antagonism and the expropriation of the means of production that is evident in this move to eliminate freedom -sorry, I mean fallibility - but an ideological project for the development of a clockwork world that the theists once imagined God had created. The theists were confronted with the real world thereby necessitating the invention of theodicy, an explanation for why such nasty things happen in God's perfect world. Today's believers in the superiority of their own creations, like the theologians of yesterday, are sure to blame Adam and Eve - and catalogers - for any and all problems that follow upon the implementation of the Next Generation Catalog. That much is entirely predictable.



1Preface to Joëlle Le Marec, Dialogue ou labyrinthe? La consultation des catalogues informatisés par les usagers. (Paris: Bibliothèque publique d'information, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1990. Études et recherche): 9.

2Victor Scardigli, Les sens de la technique. (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1992). For an interesting review of Scardigli's book, see Nicholas Nova, "Victor Scardigli, the meaning/direction of technique" on his blog Pasta & Vinegar (viewed 14 October 2011)
Nova is the author of Les flops technologique: Comprendre les échecs pour innover (2011) and Les médias géolocalisés: Comprendre les nouveaux espaces numériques (2009), both published by éditions FYP, Limoges. He writes of himself "I study people's practices as well as usage of technologies and turn them into insights, ideas, prototypes or recommendations to inform design and technology foresight." Another and very different review by Yann Leroux is "L'imaginaire de la technique: Victor Scardigli" on Socialmediatoday.com
http://socialmediatoday.com/index.php?q=SMC/113999 (viewed 14 October 2011)

3"Automates et anthropologie: Le monde de l'aviation comme société digitale", CNRS Info no.392 (Avril 2001), Accessed 14.10.2011: http://www.cnrs.fr/Cnrspresse/n392/html/n392a07.htm

4Le Marec, Dialogue ou labyrinthe?

5British Library. Researchers of Tomorrow: a three year (BL/JISC) study tracking the research behaviour of 'Generation Y' doctoral students. Annual report, 2009-2010. June 2010. Accessed 20 October at:

6Palmer, Carole L.; Teffeau, Lauren C., and Pirmann, Carrie M. Scholarly Information Practices in the Online Environment: Themes from the Literature and Implications for Library Service Development. Report commissioned by OCLC Research. Published online and accessed 20 October at:

7Joëlle Le Marec, Dialogue ou labyrinthe?, p.21.

8Ibid., p.22.

9Ibid., p.27.


11Ibid., p. 42.

12Victor Scardigli. Un anthropologue chez les automates: de l'avion informatisé à la société numérisée. (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2001)

13"Robots and anthropology," CNRS Info, no.392 (English edition, April 2001) Accessed 20 October 2011 at: http://www.cnrs.fr/Cnrspresse/n392/html/en392a07.htm

14Jenny Emanuel, "Next Generation Catalogs: what do they do and why should we care?" Reference & User Services Quarterly v.49 nr.2 (2010): 117-120 (Accidental technologist column)

15Online comment by commentarius - September 29, 2009 at 03:50 pm to the article by Marc Parry, September 28, 2009 "After Losing Users in Catalogs, Libraries Find Better Search Software" The Chronicle of Higher Education 56 no. 6 (Oct. 2, 2009) p. A13 Accessed 20 October 2011 at:

16British Library, Researchers of tomorrow, p.4.

17In addition to Les sens de la technique mentioned above, see also Victor Scardigli. "Déterminisme technique et appropriation culturelle: l'évolution du regard porté sur les technologies de l'information" Technologies de l'information et société v.6 num. 4 (1994) (Technologies de l'information et modes de vie): 299-314 and Victor Scardigli, Marina Maestrutti and Jean-François Poltorak, Comment naissent les avions: ethnographie des pilotes d'essai (Paris: L'Harmattan, 2000).

18Francis Jaureguiberry and Serge Proulx have just published Usages et enjeux des technologies de communication (Ramonville Saint-Agne: érès, 2011), a book I have ordered but not yet been able to read, but it promises to be well worth reading.

19Emmanuël Souchier, Yves Jeanneret, Joëlle Le Marec (sous la direction de). Lire, écrire, récrire: objets, signes et pratiques des médias informatisés. (Paris: Bibliothèque publique d'information, 2003) (Études et recherche).

20Jan Davallon, Nathalie Noel-Cadet, and Danièle Brochu, "L'usage dans le texte: les "traces d'usage" du site Gallica." In: Souchier, et al. Lire, écrire, récrire, p.47-89

21Joëlle Le Marec and Igor Babou, "De l'étude des usages à une théorie des 'composites' : objets, relations et normes en bibliothèque", in : Emmanuel Souchier, Yves Jeanneret and Joëlle Le Marec (eds.), Lire, écrire, récrire - objets, signes et pratiques des médias informatisés, p. 233-299. Available at: http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/15/91/80/PDF/composites.pdf

22Joëlle Le Marec. Ce que le "terrain" fait aux concepts: vers une thérie des composites. Habilitation à diriger des recherches, Université Paris 7, Cinéma, communication et information, 9 mars 2002.

23Ibid., from the online version, p. 4.

24Yves Jeanneret. Y a-t-il (vraiment) des technologies de l'information? (Villeneuve d'Ascq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2007). Unfortunately I took notes on the 2000 edition borrowed through interlibrary loan but the copy I now have available, like the copy available in part via GoogleBooks is the 2007 volume. Because my notes are in English and the pagination in the two editions differs, apart from the one section on cataloging and search engines, I cannot now relocate all the passages I wanted to discuss. The topics are in there, but you will have to find them yourself.

25I have had the priviledge of being the first to bring Zinna's work to the English reader in a recent paper that Adrian Pablé and I translated and published in a Festschrift for Roy Harris that we edited: Alessandro Zinna, "The object of writing", Language Sciences, v.33 nr.4 (Special issue: Linguistics Out of Bounds: Explorations in Integrational Linguistics in Honour of Roy Harris on his 80th Birthday): pp. 634-646.

26Dominique Cotte. Des médias au travail: emprunts, transferts, métamorphoses. Mémoire pour l'habilitation à diriger des recherches. Université d'Avignon et des pays du Vaucluse. 5 novembre 2007: 69. Available at:

27Roy Harris. La sémiologie de l'écriture Paris: CNRS, 1993): 370 (quoted in Cotte, Des médias au travail, p.69).

28Cotte, Des médias au travail, p.69-70.

29Isabelle Garron, Jean-Luc Minel, Emmanuël Souchier, "Citer, indexer ou cartographier? De la circulation et de la lecture des textes relatifs à une ouvre littéraire sur internet," in: Indice, index, indexation : actes du colloque international organisé les 3 et 4 novembre 2005 à l'université de Lille-3 par les laboratoires CERSATES et GERICO / Ismaïl Timini, Susan Kovacs (coordinateurs). (Paris : Association des professionnels de l'information et de la documentation (ADBS)) , v. 1 (2006): 163-174. Available at:

30Cécile Tardy, Jean Davallon and Yves Jeanneret, "Les médias informatisés comme organisation des pratiques de savoir," in Organisation des connaissances et société des savoirs : concepts, usages, acteurs. 6e colloque international du Chapitre français de l'ISKO, 7-8 juin 2007 (2007): 169-184. Available at:

31Laurence Schmoll. "Le lecteur modèle des concepteurs de sites Internet pédagogiques" Revue des Sciences Sociales, no.36 (2006) (Écrire les sciences sociales): 68-75. Available at:

32Nathalie Noel-Cadet. "La médiation comme mode d'approche des usages de l'Internet" In: Xº Colloque bilatéral franco-roumain, CIFSIC Université de Bucarest, 28 juin - 3 juillet 2003, (2003) Accessed 19 October 2011 at http://archivesic.ccsd.cnrs.fr/sic_00000737/fr/

33Jacques Perriault, "Le numérique: une question politique," Hermès, nr.38 (2004): 183-189; Jacques Perriault, "La norme comme instrument d'accès au savoir en ligne," Hermès nr.45 (2006):77-87.

34Jacques Perriault. La logique de l'usage: essai sur les machines à communiquer. (Paris: Flammarion, 1989).

35Ibid., cover.

36Ibid., p.104.

37Ibid., p.71.

38Ibid., p. 205.

39Ibid., p. 230.

40Jean Davallon, Hana Gottesdiener, Joëlle Le Marec, avec la collaboration de David Cohen, Loïc étiembre, Natacha Godrèche. Premiers usages des Cédéroms de musées: pratiques et représentations d'un produit innovant. (Dijon: OCIM, 2000).

41Joëlle Le Marec, Publics et musées: la confiance éprouvée. (Paris: L'Harmattan, 2007).

42Joëlle Le Marec, Publics et musées, p. 204.

43Joëlle Le Marec, "L'usage et ses modèles : quelques réflexions méthodologiques," Spirale nº 28 (2001): 105-122; Joëlle Le Marec. "Imaginaire d'usage et informatique: le public de la bibliothèque publique d'information du centre Georges-Pompidou," in Alain Gras, Bernward Joerges and Victor Scardigli (eds.), Sociologie des techniques de la vie quotidienne, (Paris: l'Harmattan, 1992): 227-232; Joëlle Le Marec, "Le public : définitions et représentations," Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France nº 46, v. 2 (2001): 50-55; Joëlle Le Marec, "Le musée à l'épreuve des thèmes sciences et société : les visiteurs en public," Quaderni nº 46 (2002): 105-122; Joëlle Le Marec, "Usages: pratiques de recherche et théorie des practiques", Hermès, nr.38 (2004): 141-147.

44Joëlle Le Marec. "L'interactivité, rencontre entre visiteurs et concepteurs" Publics et musées, no. 3 (1993) (Du public aux visiteurs): 91-109; Le Marec, Joëlle, "Interactivité et multimédia : lieux communs revisités par l'usage," Rencontres médias 2: Aspects des nouvelles technologies de l'information (1997-1998), Editions du centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Jean Davallon and Joëlle Le Marec, "L'usage en son contexte - Sur les usages des interactifs et des cédéroms de musées," Réseaux nº 101 (2000): 173-196; Le Marec, Joëlle, "Dialogue interdisciplinaire sur l'"interactivité", Communication et Langages n° 128 (2001): 97-110.

45Joëlle Le Marec and Igor Babou. "Transformation des pratiques de lecture, écriture a l'heure des reseaux: objets, relations et normes dans le travail des bibliothécaires" in: Emmanuel Dreyer and Patrick Le Floch (eds.), Le lecteur: approche sociologique, économique et juridique, (Paris: L'Harmattan, 2004): 113-122.

46Babou, Igor et Le Marec, Joëlle, "Nova Atlantis - Manifeste pour une utopie baconienne en sciences humaines et sociales," Alliage nº 47 (2001): 3-10; Joëlle Le Marec and Igor Babou, "Sciences et médias : le champ < STS > à l'épreuve de la banalité," Actes du colloque Sciences, médias et société, (Lyon: ENS LSh - Laboratoire Communication, Culture et Société, 2005).
http://sciences-medias.ens-lyon.fr/IMG/pdf/LeMarec_Babou.pdf; Joëlle Le Marec and Igor Babou, "Words and figures of the public: the misunderstanding in scientific communication," in: D. Cheng et al. (eds.) Communicating Science in Social Contexts, (Springer Science+Business Media, 2008): p. 39-54; Joëlle Le Marec and Serge Chaumier, "évaluation muséale: Hermès ou les contraintes de la richesse," La Lettre de l'OCIM, nr.126 (2009): 7-14.

47Cécile Dérioz. Les publics: facteurs d'évolutions? Changements organisationnels dans les musées et les bibliothèques. Diplôme de conservateur de bibliothèque. École nationale supérieure des sciences de l'information et des bibliothèques, Mémoire d'étude, mars 2008.
Joëlle Le Marec (ed.), Évolution des rapports entre sciences et société au musée: dispositifs, discours, énonciation, publics (Culture et musées, no. 10) (Actes sud, 2007).

48Sheila S. Intner, "Copy Cataloging and the Perfect Record Mentality." Technicalities, 10: 7 (July 1990): 14.

49On the Record: Report of The Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, January 9, 2008.


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Cataloging News
Robert Bothmann, News Editor

Welcome to the news column.  Its purpose is to disseminate information on any aspect of cataloging and classification that may be of interest to the cataloging community.  This column is not just intended for news items, but serves to document discussions of interest as well as news concerning you, your research efforts, and your organization.  Please send any pertinent materials, notes, minutes, or reports to: Robert Bothmann, Memorial Library, Minnesota State University, Mankato, ML 3097, PO Box 8419, Mankato, MN 56002-8419 (email: robert.bothmann@mnsu.edu, phone: 507-389-2010.  News columns will typically be available prior to publication in print from the CCQ website at http://catalogingandclassificationquarterly.com/.

We would appreciate receiving items having to do with:

Research and Opinion

  • Abstracts or reports of on-going or unpublished research
  • Bibliographies of materials available on specific subjects
  • Analysis or description of new technologies
  • Call for papers
  • Comments or opinions on the art of cataloging


  • Notes, minutes, or summaries of meetings, etc. of interest to catalogers
  • Publication announcements
  • Description of grants
  • Description of projects


  • Announcements of changes in personnel
  • Announcements of honors, offices, etc.


Research and Opinion

Metropolitan New York Library Council awards $78,000 in Grants to support collaborative digitization projects

Funding awarded to four collaborative projects in the New York City and
Westchester region to advance efforts to preserve and expand access to
vital historical and cultural collections.

NEW YORK, NY (November 30, 2011) - Nine institutions in New York City and Westchester have been awarded grant funding to support a range of digitization projects designed to expand access to important collections of historical and rare materials. Recipients of the 2011 Digital METRO New York (DMNY) grants, totaling over $78,000, were announced today by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).

Libraries, archives, and other research organizations selected to receive METRO digitization grants this year include the American Jewish Historical Society, the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Center for Jewish History, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Frick Art Reference Library, Brooklyn Museum, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the New York Botanical Garden. Awardees were chosen based on a rigorous application and review process designed to identify initiatives that would have the strongest impact on research and access to vital materials from important collections in the New York area.

"This year's digitization grant recipients truly represent the diversity of METRO's membership, and I am confident that their collaborative projects will enhance the growing collection of online resources in our area," said Jason Kucsma, METRO's Executive Director.

DMNY funding is available to eligible members of METRO through a competitive application and project review process. The projects selected for the 2011/2012 grant cycle reflect the breadth and depth of special collections in the metropolitan New York region. Following are the libraries and projects selected for 2011 METRO collaborative digitization grants:

  • Early New York Synagogue Archives; the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History
  • Art Resources from the Mid-20th Century: Digitized Highlights from the Libraries of Hilla Rebay and Juliana Force; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Documenting the Gilded Age: New York City Exhibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century (Phase 2); Frick Art Reference Library, Brooklyn Museum
  • Views of Bronx Park: Collaborative Project to Digitize the Postcards of the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden; Wildlife Conservation Society, New York Botanical Garden

"With METRO's support, the Guggenheim and Whitney Museums will be able to make unique historical resources held by both of our institutions widely available for the first time," said Francine Snyder, Project Manager for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art.

"Providing online access to these historically significant materials will allow scholars, theologians, sociologists, urban demographers, genealogists and historians to study synagogue life and the life of the Jewish community in New York City before and during a key time period of great Jewish immigration to the United States and in modern American history," said Naomi Steinberger, Project Manager for the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary's collaboration with the American Jewish Historical Society and the Center for Jewish History.

Since 2005, METRO's DMNY program has distributed over $530,000 to help fund 37 projects at more than 49 METRO member institutions. Managed by METRO, Digital Metro New York supports the implementation of digitization projects among METRO member libraries and archives. METRO lends vital additional support for digitization projects through specialized education and training programs and opportunities for "digitally ready" libraries to share expertise and best-practice digitization strategies.

METRO's digitization program is supported by funds from the New York State Regional Bibliographic Database Program. For more information about METRO's involvement in digitization projects, visit http://bit.ly/dkbS1k.


The Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) is a non-profit organization working to develop and maintain essential library services throughout New York City and Westchester County. METRO's service is developed and delivered with broad input and support from an experienced staff of library professionals, the organization's member libraries, an active board of trustees, government representatives and other experts in research and library operations.

As the largest reference and research resources (3Rs) library council in New York State, METRO members reflect a wide range of special, academic, archival and public library organizations. In addition to training programs and support services, METRO also works to bring members of the New York City and Westchester County library communities together to promote ongoing exchanges of information and ideas.

Debut of the CatalogingPractices Database

Submitted by Marielle Veve, Cataloging & Metadata Leader, Hodges Library, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.but of the CatalogingPractices Database

CatalogingPractices (http://catalogingpractices.wikispaces.com/) is an open database started in Feb. 2012. Its purpose is to serve as repository of current cataloging practices of university and college libraries inside and outside the United States. It is open to everybody and is created for the benefit of the whole cataloging and technical services community. If you know the current practices of your institution's Technical Services Department, please provide them below by answering the following ' or by filling the online form at http://catalogingpractices.weebly.com/.


Kyushu University Library Unveils an eXtensible Catalog

The Kyushu University Library in Fukuoka, Japan is the first library to unveil a fully operational eXtensible catalog (http://www.extensiblecatalog.org/). Known as the Cute.Catalog it provides access to more than 250 thousand research articles from their institutional repository and other University sources, plus the four million books and journals (print and electronic) held in their library. Coupled with their Summon-powered Cute.Search from Serials Solutions that provides access to more than 800 million articles, the Library's powerful discovery service went online in January 2012. More information may be found in their press release (http://www.kyushu-u.ac.jp/english/pressrelease/2012_01_18.pdf).

Library of Congress Cataloging Distribution Service Discontinues Some Print Publications

The Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) announced it will deliver more content in electronic format only to improve access to updates and to make more of their publications freely available. Among the discontinued print publications are the Cataloging Service Bulletin, the Library of Congress Rule Interpretations, Free-Floating Subdivisions: An Alphabetical Index, and the MARC formats and code lists. Most publications are available in Cataloger's Desktop. A complete list with links to their electronic format continuations is available on the CDS Web site at http://www.loc.gov/cds/notices/printproductupdate.html.

Publication of RDA Terms for Content, Carrier, and Media Type Vocabularies

The Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA (JSC) (http://www.rda-jsc.org/), the DCMI Bibliographic Metadata Task Group (http://wiki.dublincore.org/index.php/Bibliographic_Metadata_Task_Group) (formerly DCMI/RDA Task Group (http://dublincore.org/dcmirdataskgroup/)), and ALA Publishing (on behalf of the co-publishers of RDA) are pleased to announce the publication of a second set of vocabulary terms as linked open data. The RDA Carrier Type (http://metadataregistry.org/vocabulary/show/id/46.html), Content Type (http://metadataregistry.org/vocabulary/show/id/45.html) and Media Type (http://metadataregistry.org/vocabulary/show/id/37.html) vocabularies have been reviewed, approved, and their status in the Open Metadata Registry (OMR) (http://metadataregistry.org/) changed to 'published.' The finished vocabularies can be viewed following the links from the terms above. (The links lead to the description of the vocabulary itself, the specific terms can be viewed under the tab for 'concepts').

Terms in the Content Type vocabulary refer to the intellectual or artistic content of a resource, such as text or notated music; terms in the Carrier Type vocabulary refer to the means and methods by which content is conveyed including volume, sheet, computer disk; terms in the Media Type vocabulary specify the general type of intermediation device (if any) required to view, play or run the content of a resource. These vocabularies are derived from the RDA/ONIX framework for resource categorization (http://www.loc.gov/marc/marbi/2007/5chair10.pdf) which established an extensible methodology for categorization of resources according to content and carrier.

Users of the RDA vocabularies on OMR may notice that German language terms in the Carrier Type, Content Type and Media Type vocabularies still have the status "newly proposed". "Terms" in the OMR are language specific labels, which can be displayed to aid readability, but the URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) is the persistent identifier for the underlying concept. The status of the German terms will be reviewed when the German translation has been completed and is stable.

Gordon Dunsire said "These vocabularies are crucial for the selection and identification of information resources. Their publication as linked data in RDF allows the terms to be used by all bibliographic metadata communities in the Semantic Web environment. I look forward to the future development and publication of mappings from the vocabularies to the RDA/ONIX Framework. Similar mappings of other content and carrier vocabularies, such as those for ISBD area 0, will support metadata interoperability between communities and improve resource discovery for all."

All the RDA vocabularies can be viewed in the OMR by using this page: http://metadataregistry.org/rdabrowse.htm. Those interested in following the work of review and publication of the vocabularies can subscribe to the Registry RSS feeds linked from that page. Questions on the OMR can be conveyed using the 'Feedback' link on each Registry page.

Questions or comments on the review process or the content of specific vocabularies may be addressed to the Chair of the JSC, Barbara Tillett [btil(at)loc.gov]. Questions and comments on the encoding of the vocabularies or on the Open Metadata Registry may be addressed to Diane Hillmann [metadata.maven(at)gmail.com] or Gordon Dunsire [gordon(at)gordondunsire.com].

New International Standard for Thesauri Published

The Networked Knowledge Organization Systems/Services (NKOS) group has published a new international standard for thesauri and interoperability. The standard's designation is ISO 25964-1 with the full title of Information and Documentation--Thesauri and Interoperability with Other Vocabularies. Part 1: Thesauri for Information Retrieval. It replaces the earlier standards ISO 2788 and ISO 5964. The content of the new standard includes mono- and multi-lingual thesauri construction as well as guidance on facet analysis, layout, thesauri use in networked systems, management software, and recommendations for exchange protocols. For more information, see the press release at http://nkos.slis.kent.edu/PressReleaseISO25964-1Dec2011.pdf.

Directions in Music Cataloging Published

The Music Library Association has published a new title in their Technical Reports Series. Edited by Peter H. Lisius and Richard Griscom, Directions in Music Cataloging offers ten contributions from leaders in the field of music cataloging, covering the foundations of music cataloging, theory, and current and emerging standards. For more information and terms of availability, visit the publisher's description at https://www.areditions.com/books/TR32.htm.

New IFLA Committee on Standards

Submitted by Patrice Landry, Swiss National Library


The newly formed IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutes) Committee on Standards will coordinate standards work within and beyond IFLA and support standards activities in IFLA professional units, principally in sections. The Committee on Standards starts up its activities in January 2012 and will conduct most of its work virtually with its first face-to-face meeting to take place during the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Helsinki, Finland. The IFLA Committee on Standards is a general IFLA committee, reporting directly to IFLA's Governing Board.


The Committee will:

  • Provide a central focus for standards in order to raise the visibility of standards within and beyond IFLA, e.g. with International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Association Française de Normalisation (AFNOR), Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN), etc.
  • Ensure the maintenance of standards through a common approach for their creation, translation, version control; ensure procedures for the initiation, development, validation and publishing of standards are current and widely available;
  • Coordinate the development, maintenance, storage and access for all kinds of IFLA standards documents;
  • Monitor and propose to Governing Board the validation of standards; provide support for professional units in the standards development and validation processes
  • Provide support for the work of professional activities, policies and communication at IFLA HQ in relation to standards;
  • Support IFLA's strategic priorities, advocacy initiatives and any other IFLA ongoing activities; undertake strategic planning for standards;
  • Manage the IFLA open access policy for IFLA standards documents;
  • Ensure that digital versions of standards are accessible and stored in an appropriate IFLA website "portal" according to requirements as proposed by the current IFLA Namespaces Task Group, this to ensure compatibility of IFLA standards with the semantic web;
  • Ensure that a listing of standards according to categories and purposes, ongoing standards work (WGs (working groups)) and publication information is maintained on IFLA's website;
  • Provide advice to the Governing Board on IFLA representation in standards-related activities, including conferences, meetings, publications (inside and outside of IFLA)
  • Organize a "standards" open program during IFLA WLIC (World Library and Information Congress)
  • Promote IFLA standards through newsletter(s), IFLA website, ICBC (International Cataloguing and Bibliographic Control), IFLA Journal and other means
  • Any other matters that may impact on IFLA's Standards that are referred to the Committee by the Governing Board.


Chair: Patrice Landry, Swiss National Library

Division I: Tay Ai Cheng, National Library Board of Singapore
Division II: Françoise Pellé, ISSN International Center
Division III: Anders Cato, Gothenburg University Library
Division IV: Marian Koren, Netherlands Public Library Association
Division V: Chih-Feng P. Lin, Shih Hsin University, Taiwan
Permanent UNIMARC Committee Chair: Alan Hopkinson, Middlesex University, United Kingdom
CDNL representative: (TBA)

Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative - Update Forum, ALA Midwinter Meeting,
Dallas, Texas, January 22, 2012

The full text of the transcript is also available from the Library of Congress at http://www.loc.gov/marc/transition/news/minutes-alamw-2012.html

Meeting Summary

1. Greeting and Introductions (Beacher Wiggins, Deanna Marcum, others)

Beacher Wiggins, director for acquisitions and bibliographic access, Library of Congress, welcomed the audience of about 110 people, including representatives of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Biblioteca Nacional de España, and Library and Archives Canada, to the first Library of Congress Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative Update Forum. He explained that the Library of Congress, the institution that led the development of the MARC formats in the late 1960s, intended to maintain MARC as long as necessary but at the same time had begun to seek a better framework for the encoding and distribution of bibliographic data in the broadest sense, including authority data. He said that LC had convened this Forum, the first in a series, to learn how the Library of Congress could engage the community in the Bibliographic Framework Transition project and to foster dialogue about community concerns. Wiggins mentioned the other Library of Congress staff who were currently working on the project: Ann Della Porta, Chief, Integrated Library System Program Office; Kevin Ford, Digital Project Coordinator, Network Development and MARC Standards Office (NDMSO); Sally McCallum, Chief, NDMSO; Susan Morris, Special Assistant to the Director for Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access; Dave Reser, Senior Cataloging Policy Specialist, Policy & Standards Division (PSD); Ruth Scovill, Director for Technology Policy; and Barbara Tillett, Chief, PSD.

2. Opening statements

a. Need for a new bibliographic framework (Deanna Marcum)

The first speaker was Dr. Deanna Marcum, who recently retired as associate librarian of Congress for Library Services and is now managing director of the not-for-profit strategic consulting service Ithaka S+R. Marcum explained that she had grappled for years with the question of how to evolve from the MARC format that has been the principal bibliographic data carrier since the late 1960s to a flexible framework suited to the World Wide Web. At the 2005 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, Mass., she spoke to the EBSCO Leadership Seminar on "The Future of Cataloging." That speech caused her to think in earnest about what we as a community need to do to produce relevant bibliographic control for the digital age. The vast quantity of legacy data expressed only in MARC made it difficult to contemplate such a shift, but two events showed that the time for a new framework had come.

First, in January 2008, the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control (http://www.loc.gov/bibliographic-future/) made 108 recommendations to LC and the community. Among these, the Working Group recommended suspension of work on the new cataloging instructions RDA: Resource Description and Access and development of a more flexible, extensible metadata carrier that would promote easier interchange of metadata among libraries and other parts of the information community. At Marcum's suggestion, the Library of Congress, National Agricultural Library, and National Library of Medicine conducted a large-scale national test of RDA and issued a joint decision in June 2011 on how they would implement it.

Second, in its resulting report (http://www.loc.gov/bibliographic-future/rda/source/rdatesting-finalreport-20june2011.pdf), the US RDA Test Coordinating Committee of LC, NAL, and NLM specified "credible progress toward a replacement for MARC" as one of the necessary conditions for implementing RDA.

In May 2011 Marcum therefore assigned Wiggins, McCallum, and several other LC managers to begin the transition to a new bibliographic framework. Mindful of the Library's huge investment in MARC, she asked the LC team what MARC's primary inventor, Henriette D. Avram, would have done in the age of Google. All agreed that Avram would not have viewed MARC as the final answer, but would have overseen an evolution of MARC to meet contemporary needs. The LC team drafted a high-level plan for the transition and posted it to the Library's new Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative Website (http://www.loc.gov/marc/transition/) on October 31, 2011. The plan calls for formation of two groups, an advisory group to establish overall principles and a technical development group. Marcum, noting that all parts of the library community are struggling with the same question--how to do the best job we can for future generations--said she had agreed to serve, on a volunteer basis, as the chair of the advisory group.

b. Overview of initial plan for Bibliographic Framework Transition, issued October 31, 2011 (Sally McCallum)

McCallum gave a brief overview of the October 31 plan. She stressed that the plan is very high-level at this time; its purpose was to set forth future requirements, propose ways to investigate next steps, and suggest how the Library of Congress and the community can handle their legacy data and systems. The plan envisions a new framework that features:

  • Broad accommodation of content rules and data models--The new framework must be agnostic to cataloging rules, because in addition to RDA, it must accommodate descriptions in Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), Cataloging Cultural Objects (CCO), and specialized rule sets such as those used in the sciences;
  • Provision for types of data that logically accompany or support bibliographic description;
  • Accommodation of textual data, linked data with URIs instead of text, and both--a requirement since libraries are not all alike now, and never will be all alike;
  • Consideration of the relationships between and recommendations for communications format tagging, record input conventions, and system storage/manipulation--cataloging interfaces have been very MARC-like, but end-user interfaces have become much more varied, and McCallum predicted that there would be increasingly diverse interfaces for both;
  • Consideration of the needs of all sizes and types of libraries, from small public to large research;
  • Continuation of maintenance of MARC until no longer necessary;
  • Compatibility with MARC-based records;
  • Provision of transformation from MARC21 to a new bibliographic environment;
  • The plan commits the Library to maintaining MARC for as long as necessary and to providing automated tools for transforming data from MARC to the new framework.

The latter will most likely be based on Linked Data principles and use the Resource Description Framework (RDF), a World Wide Web Consortium specification, as its basic data model. The new framework will support many more options for data storage and retrieval than is the case now. McCallum envisioned development of RDF ontologies for the new bibliographic framework. Above all, she stressed the need for community collaboration. She recalled that Avram, leading the development of MARC more than forty years ago, made it a practice to develop a small piece of the format, have it reviewed and adjust it accordingly, then issue another small piece, in an iterative process that resulted in a very robust and widely accepted format.

3. Updates

a. Synopsis of responses to initial Transition plan (Sally McCallum)

McCallum encouraged all Forum attendees to subscribe to the BIBFRAME listserv (http://listserv.loc.gov/listarch/bibframe.html) and make and follow comments there. Comments to date have highlighted several themes:

  • Core data: how will the developers determine what elements are core, in a world in which every data element is core to someone?
  • Goals of the Bibliographic Framework Transition with respect to end users: how will it enable libraries to deliver more value to patrons?
  • Goals with respect to catalogers: the new framework is not likely to prescribe an interface.

McCallum added that several national libraries abroad had submitted statements of support for the Transition Initiative.

b. Funding for the Transition Initiative (Deanna Marcum)

Marcum said she had promised to pursue funding for the Transition Initiative and hoped to have some funding commitments this winter. The community conversation on the new bibliographic framework had to include voices from other countries and from around the U.S., a factor that would make the project expensive. [Wiggins mentioned after the Forum that the LC group hoped to host a series of invitational meetings in different regions, as the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control had done in 2007.] Marcum would chair the Transition Initiative Advisory Group that would provide long-term guidance, monitor costs, and ensure that libraries' managers were informed about the Initiative as it progressed.

c. Advisory and Technical Groups (Beacher Wiggins, Deanna Marcum)

Wiggins said that the technical group would develop the new framework in modules. He said that LC didn't plan to announce the members of either group until both were fully populated. He said that LC also envisioned the formation of several technical subgroups to work on various aspects of the framework. He encouraged those interested in serving on a group or subgroup to email mailto:ndmso@loc.gov/

4. Expectations for and from the community

This topic was folded into previous agenda items.

5. Questions and answers/Open discussion (All)

Elizabeth O'Keefe: What is the nature of the commitments of time and resources that will be expected of advisory and technical group members?

Wiggins replied:: The Library of Congress and Marcum are seeking funding to host at least one face-to-face meeting for each group in 2012. No one in either group would be expected to make it a full-time job.

Paul J. Weiss: What role do you see for other countries' MARC maintenance agencies? McCallum replied: They'll be eagerly invited to participate; several national ibraries have sent messages of support for the initiative.

Louise Ratliff: Please post some "recommended reading" on the Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative Website.

Wiggins replied: An excellent suggestion. LC will undertake to post a bibliography of readings. Recommended readings will touch on the Resource Description Framework, Linked Systems, and other relevant topics.

John Espley:: Is there a way to make the BIBFRAME listserv comments more to the point? The tone is sometimes negative.

McCallum replied: We feel that people need to have a voice and should be able to feel that their input is considered.

John Attig: BIBFRAME readers and the Forum audience would welcome a direct conversation with the decision-makers for the Transition Initiative. They want LC people to express individual viewpoints on the listserv.

Robert Ellett: The ALCTS Webinar on RDA by Marcum and Wiggins in August 2011 was excellent; will there be more such opportunities?

Wiggins replied that additional Webinars, by LC, ALCTS, or other entities, were under consideration.

Janet Ahrberg: Are you involving vendors in the Transition Initiative? Wiggins replied that this was already underway.

John F. Myers: When you're used to a certain framework of perception, it's hard to recognize the next dimension as it unfolds. Those working on the Transition Initiative shouldn't let negative remarks discourage them. It is important to provide for transformations from MARC to the new framework, but it makes sense to develop the new framework first and then build bridges back to MARC.

Diane Hillmann: Wishes LC members would respond to comments on BIBFRAME with their personal opinions. The suggestion that LC is developing the Next Big Thing calls for reassurance that the community will be full participants so that siloing can be avoided. There is concern in the community about all having a voice in the discussion.

Paul J. Weiss: It's understandable that vendors and national libraries must have unified voices, but nowadays the community considers the Library of Congress a partner, not a parent. Framework developers should not worry about having disagreements in public view of the community.

John Attig: "Made at LC," or even quot;Made in libraries,quot; would not be desirable.

Cheryl Cook: Framework groups should look at Kuali OLE, a community-wide research library management system using open-source software, because it links financial and bibliographic data.

Wiggins replied that the Framework would indeed consider this kind of linking.

The Forum closed with a comment that the library community needs a Mark Zuckerberg (chief executive of Facebook).

Deutsche Nationalbibliothek announces support of Bibliographic Framework
Transition Initiative

In a recent statement of support, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (DNB, German National Library) offered assistance and expertise relating to its experience with large authority files as evidenced by Project Gemeinsame Normdatei (authority files for personal and corporate names and subject headings); data modeling; its experience transitioning from one encoding scheme to another; and clearer distinctions between cataloging format, storage format, and communication format. Their statement concludes, "We look forward to ongoing cooperation with the Library of Congress and all the partners during the upcoming process with enthusiasm." The full response may be found at http://files.d-nb.de/pdf/bfti_statement_dnb.pdf.



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