Library of Congress Professional Guild
The Future of Cataloging
Recently, the value and future of LC cataloging
practices have been directly challenged.
The Library of Congress Professional Guild, AFSCME 2910, represents professional employees, including catalogers. We would like to draw the attention of the larger library community to some of the current dialogue on cataloging here at the Library of Congress.
To this end, we present the following articles:
"The Future of Cataloging," by Dr. Deanna B. Marcum,
Associate Librarian of Congress, January 16, 2004, address to the Ebsco Leadership
Seminar, Boston, Mass.
"Will Google's Keyword Searching Eliminate the Need
for LC Cataloging and Classification?" by Dr. Thomas Mann, Reference
Librarian in the Library of Congress Main Reading Room, August 15, 2005.
"Survey of Library User Studies" also by Dr. Thomas
Mann, Reference Librarian in the Library of Congress Main Reading Room, October
"Copyright Office Makes Final Decision on Cataloging
Record," (pdf) by Margaret Holley, cataloger in the Performing Arts Section
of Copyright Cataloging, March 2006.
- "The Changing Nature of the Catalog
and Its Integration with Other Discovery Tools. Final Report." March 17, 2006.
for the Library of Congress by Karen Calhoun. A Critical Review by Thomas Mann,"
April 4, 2006.
According to the Calhoun report, library operations that are not
digital, that do not result in resources that are remotely accessible, that
involve professional human judgement or expertise,
or that require conceptual categorization and standardization rather than relevance
ranking of keywords, do not fit into its proposed “leadership” strategy.
This strategy itself, however, is
based on an inappropriate business model – and a misrepresentation of that business
model to begin with. The Calhoun report draws unjustified conclusions about
the digital age, inflates
wishful thinking, fails to make critical distinctions, and disregards (as well
as mischaracterizes) an alternative “niche” strategy for research libraries,
to promote scholarship (rather than increase
“market position”). Its recommendations to eliminate Library of Congress Subject
Headings, and to use “fast turnaround” time as the “gold standard” in cataloging,
are particularly unjustified,
and would have serious negative consequences for the capacity of research libraries
- Resolution on the
Library of Congress Management's Decision to Cease the Production of Series
Authority Records, adopted by the Guild Executive Board,
- New essay: "What is Going on at the
Library of Congress?" Prepared for AFSCME 2910 by Thomas Mann,
Reference Librarian in the Library of Congress Main Reading Room, June
Schniderman, representing The Library of Congress Professional Guild AFSCME
Local 2910 before the Committee on House Administration concerning
the World Digital Library July 27, 2006 (PDF format)
on What is Going on at the Library of Congress " prepared for AFSCME
2910 by Thomas Mann January 1, 2007.
- "Eliminating Series Authority Records and
Series Title Control: Improving Efficiency or Creating Waste? Or, 12 Reasons
Why the Library of Congress Should Reconsider
Its SARs Decision" prepared for AFSCME 2910 by Gary M. Johnson, January
- "The Peloponnesian
War and the Future of Reference, Cataloging, and Scholarship in Research
Libraries" prepared for AFSCME 2910 by Thoams
Mann, June 13, 2007.
ABSTRACT: The paper is an examination of the overall principles and practices
of both reference service and cataloging operations in the promotion of scholarly
research, pointing out important differences not just in content available
onsite and offsite, but also among necessary search methods. It specifies the
differences between scholarship and quick information seeking, and examines
the implications of those differences for the future of cataloging. It examines
various proposed alternatives to cataloging: relevance ranking, tagging, under-the-hood
programming, etc. The paper considers the need for, and requirements of, education
of researchers; and it examines in detail many of the glaring disconnects
between theory and practice in the library profession today.
- "Steroid" Scandal Rocks Major League Libraries.
A satirical response to erosion of support for cataloging at the Library of
Congress, by Daniel Cohen, December 14, 2007.
- “‘On the Record’ but Off the Track,
A Review of the Report of The Library of Congress Working Group on The Future
of Bibliographic Control, With a Further
Examination of Library of Congress Cataloging Tendencies,” by Thomas Mann,
March 14, 2008. The paper
the reorganization of LC's cataloging department proposed by Library
management, and the predicably damaging impact it will have on libraries
in all Congressional districts. The URL for the Working Group Report
itself is www.loc.gov/bibliographic-future/
- "Library of Congress:
Study of the North American MARC Records Marketplace,"
by Ruth Fischer and Rick Lugg for R2 Consulting LLC, Oct. 2009. The R2 Consulting
report, contracted by LC, studies the economics of production and distribution
of cataloging records. They gathered
information with survey responses from 972 libraries and 70 vendors.
The report addresses many issues, including the value of and challenges
facing cooperative cataloging, the costs of original cataloging, and
responsibility for those costs. The entire report is 47 pages
long, and conclusions are condensed on pages four and five.
is Distinctive about the Library of Congress in Both its Collections and
its Means of Access to Them. . . , by Thomas Mann, November 6, 2009. Mann's
paper covers three major tops: "What
is Distinctive about the Library of congress in Both its Collections and its
to Them," "The Reasons LC Needs to Maintain Classified Shelving of
and "A Way to Deal Effectively with the Problem of 'Books on the Floor'." In
addressing these concerns the essay provides an important clarification of
the mission, functions, and responsibilities of the Library of Congress in
relationship to Google, Amazon, OCLC, the Association of Research Libraries,
and the Internet.
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This page was last updated on January 11, 2007.