Cataloguing standards – an overview Information flow and rapidly advancing technology has made a big impact on the way work processes are executed and managed across all industries and commerce. Libraries have been one of the primary sources of information over decades and academicians and experts have always referred to this source for additional information requirement. However, in the past few years the utility of libraries has reduced owing to the unlimited volume of information easily accessible on the Internet and its widespread usage by individuals across all fields.
The convenience of accessing extensive information from various online sources is much appreciated by most users rather than a visit to the library to get hold of the desired publication. Moreover, with online prints easily available on the Internet, the appeal of hard copies has declined over time. Libraries face a big challenge in the face of rapidly digitization of information and online accessibility to users. One of the primary focuses of libraries today is to adopt a new style of cataloguing to meet the demands of the changing environment.
The traditional style of cataloguing is slowly becoming obsolete with new technology taking over. The influx of e-books and digitized publications available online has made it a difficult task for libraries to keep track of the information sources. The age-old method of cataloguing books, periodicals and journals through physical entry and the card system is losing essence in the more recent times. The need for an improved and innovative cataloguing system is felt by most libraries across the globe.
The RDA or Resource Description and Access are a new set of cataloguing standards that supersedes the second edition of the Anglo American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2). AACR2 was formulated in the year 1978 keeping in mind the needs to catalogue library database and provide easy access to books and periodicals. The incorporation of RDA is a major achievement in the field of library cataloguing. “The name RDA – Resource Description and Access reflects the changes both in format and scope envisioned by the JSC and CoP at their April 2005 meeting” (Schulz, 2009).
The RDA will provide the necessary framework for cataloguing information resources available in various formats. It will enable cataloguing of digital formats and allow users to retrieve required resources from the library database using advanced search, find, select, and obtain features. It also supports the “clustering of bibliographic records to show relationships between works and their creators” (RDA brochure, 2008). Hence the users can access the works of various authors, editions available online in digitized or print format by filtering the database through keyword search options.
The RDA is based on the principles and framework that shaped the AACR and it is intended to benefit libraries. The new standard can be effectively used in other areas such as archives, educators, booksellers, publishers and vendors. The developing of the RDA standards has been undertaken by the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) that consists of representatives from the Anglo American Cataloguing communities. The JSC reports to the Committee of Principals (CoP) comprising of directors from various library associations.
The cataloguing standards provided by RDA will be compatible with the AACR2 records thus eliminating the need to update existing records. The success of this new cataloguing standard depends on its flexibility and dynamism in meeting the challenges of the changing nature of information sources. Coyle and Hillman in their study on RDA (2007) and its effectiveness observe “RDA cannot be successful without addressing the key changes in the information environment that have caused libraries to fall behind as primary information providers”. Issues related to RDA The RDA standards are being adapted to the changing information needs and resources.
However the complexity of the user behaviour in the face of changing environment makes it difficult to analyse the benefits of RDA in meeting the constantly changing cataloguing demands. Coyle and Hillman in their study observe that users in the current context spend less time in looking for bibliographic description and more time browsing through full texts and even lesser time searching for required information. Social interaction and communication forums form the primary sources of information. Libraries are becoming obsolete and users have increased free access to online information resources that meet their needs and demands.
This makes it imperative for libraries to adopt changes in the process of information delivery and provide its users with increased access to resources in wide variety of formats available in the market. Digitizing of resources is a vital requirement in the current context and libraries should facilitate its users with increased and improved access to digitized publications online. One of the key features of RDA is to promote digitized access to users in the electronic age and yet provide the flexibility of access to textual resources available in print format.
It aims to integrate the old records available in AACR2 format with the new standards and requirements making it convenient for libraries to facilitate retrieval of requisite information from its database. This itself requires a long term vision while finalizing the cataloguing standards and framework. Studies on the RDA development and cataloguing framework suggest that the JSC is limited in its vision and is projecting RDA as an extension of the AACR2 standards.
The framework provides that the existing cataloguing formats will be integrated with the new cataloguing protocol to eliminate the need for re-cataloguing of the library database. This suggests that the “new standards will be similar enough to AACR2 that the cataloguing produced will be compatible with the libraries’ machine-readable record format and with current library systems” (Coyle and Hillman, 2007). Among other issues facing the RDA is the inadequate computer skills of the library technicians and users to enable effective usage of the cataloguing standards.
Access to computer systems is one of the major problems facing the implementation of RDA standards across libraries. Competency in computer operation and familiarity with online environment is essential for the usage of the new cataloguing standard. It is also felt that this inadequacy will pose problems in teaching the online use of RDA since the students will have to access multiple locations and images simultaneously to retrieve the required information from the library database (Weihs, 2007).
Financing the operations is yet another hurdle faced by librarians and institutions while applying the RDA standards. The online usage of RDA will entail some cost to the user and vendors will need to obtain a license for the use of the new cataloguing protocol. The cost of obtaining this license is not yet announced but it might pose problems to smaller libraries and institutions that do not have the adequate infrastructure to incorporate the new cataloguing standard.
The large libraries do no have such problems and they will implement the standard irrespective of the cost. Jean Weihs in his study on the “Case for a paper edition of RDA” envisages “Each director of a library technician program will have to apply to the college administration for licensing funds and the willingness to supply these funds will depend to a large extent on the cost of providing RDA to 25 to 35 computers in a classroom and perhaps to a few computers in the general use computer area. ”
Digital information resources have brought about significant changes in the cataloguing concept over the years. Entry headings play a critical role in cataloguing of printed books and journals. The cataloguing code depends on the entry heading and librarians make search for books on the basis of these codes. With the advent of online public access catalogues (OPAC) the entry heading coding concept has become obsolete since OPAC has only one record per book. In RDA the entry heading concept is replaced by primary and secondary access point.
However, it is difficult to decide what is the primary access point or which is the secondary access point since “to searchers, whichever access point gets them to their desired resource is the primary access point” (Conners, 2008). RDA and its potential application The RDA standards and cataloguing framework is based on the old principles of card cataloguing system. The same principles and standards have been modified to form a new cataloguing code that will apply to the new digitized environment.
The changes made to the AACR2 are based on the same traditional cataloguing principles. This however, is not appropriate or adequate to the changing needs and requirements of the libraries that are gradually being replaced by online information resources and virtual libraries. Conners in his work A Ghost in the Catalogue (2008) feels that this resistance to change could make RDA irrelevant as cataloguers and metadata creators begin to use other schemes that are more attuned to their current needs.
The key functionalities of an effective cataloguing system should enable easy conversion of existing library data to the web and enable users to access the library bibliographic data (Coyle, 2007). The committee instrumental in drafting the RDA have countered that “the current revision of AACR2 represents over 25 years of thoughtful revision and incorporates years of agreements made between the six constituencies from four different countries” (Bowen and Attig, 2007). The primary goal of the Committee while drafting the RDA standards was to make it compatible with the existing records created under AACR2.
The work done on establishing the AACR2 was taken as the guideline to improve and incorporate changes in context of changing information resources and demands of the libraries and institutions. The development of this standard will provide a global information retrieval system with some adaptations to the draft in context of the issues discussed above. “It is a significant development in the globalisation of information retrieval services, fitting well within a suite of recent and emerging international standards, and it is that context that its impact will be felt over the next five years” (Dunsire, 2008).
Cataloguing standards can be effectively used to add value to the keyword search engine tool and provide the user with easy access to relevant bibliographic data. Most librarians and academicians feel that “the cataloguing world has a great deal to offer the digital world and provide much better results for users” (Moore, 2006). The incorporation of RDA standards will require cataloguers and librarians to learn the new rules. This might prove costly to many institutions in addition to the exercise of implementing new rules and standards to the existing records.
Julie Renee Moore, the Catalogue Librarian in California University cites Olson (2006) in her work RDA: the new cataloguing rules, “One of the reasons RDA will be controversial is that its implementation is certain to have costs and to involve changes to integrated library systems. ” The librarians anticipate this as one of the major issues facing the implementation of RDA. However, the degree of flexibility provided by RDA standards will provide the libraries with an enhanced tool to access bibliographic data.
Will the Library of Congress Subject Headings last another hundred years? LCSH – an introduction The Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) constitutes of subject headings that have been maintained by the United States Library Congress for use in bibliographic records (Hiorland, 2007). Subject headings have been formed as and when needed to categorize and catalogue the books included in the library. New headings were given when the books could be classified into distinguishable topics for easy referencing and accessibility to the users and the librarians.
This cataloguing concept has been adopted and implemented across all libraries and institutions irrespective of size or location. This concept was initiated by the Library of Congress and later became popular and was implemented across all libraries and institutions for cataloguing of books. Over the years this system was gradually upgraded to provide easy accessibility through electronic tools such as CD-ROMs and Web. The LSCH has been criticised for its complexity and difficult to train anyone on the rules applied to the system.
The cataloguing system in libraries has been used primarily to save time in searching for the required editions and publications. However, a complex system makes it difficult for librarians to understand and users to gain an understanding. Moreover, the cataloguing system is fast on the decline owing to the growing insurgence of advanced technology that has radically changed the face of information retrieval and accessibility. Changing nature of information retrieval
Digitisation of information and a wide variety of formats available for the purpose of information delivery has made it difficult for libraries and institutions to catalogue all sources. A distinctive challenge facing the libraries is the huge abundance of information resources available on the Internet and the significant changes that have taken place in the user behaviour over the past few years. The user now wants to spend less time browsing through titles and obtaining the details of the book or periodical he wants to consult.
Any requirement for information is met through online search engines that show up thousands of reports and documents available on the Internet related to the search string provided by the user. The user can find the relevant reports that match his information need thus saving time and hassle. This trend is evident in the fact that physical libraries are fast becoming obsolete and users are depending more on the Internet to meet their information requirements. Hard copies and print formats too are easily available on the Internet for users to browse through at ease and convenience of their homes or offices.
Online and virtual libraries are becoming the reality of the day catering to the information needs of the users. Initially card cataloguing system was used by most libraries across the globe and its convenience was appreciated by librarians. “Simplified cataloguing procedures were used as the main emphasis was a finding list rather than a bibliographic tool. Added entries were held to a minimum although no limit was placed on the number of subject headings” (Drake, 2003). The manual entry process was replaced by card cataloguing procedure that was eventually computerised.
For most of the libraries the primary source of information was the Library of Congress cards that were punched and converted into magnetic tape. However, the cataloguing standards have undergone tremendous changes over the past two decades. The computerised system was used almost everywhere to organise and store information and can be provide instant access to the relevant records. “Presently the computer input necessary to produce a book catalogue could readily be adapted to direct user access and several libraries are making provisions for online, real time terminal inquiries” (Drake, 2003).
The future of cataloguing has been debated by many experts who feel that the LCSH is gradually being replaced by search engines and keywords that make it convenient for users to type the relevant search string to access information resources available on the Internet. Future of LCSH A report prepared by the Working Group comprising of 16 library and information professionals, on the Future of Bibliographic Control in the year 2008 claims that the “LCSH is overly complex and difficult to use for both cataloguers and library users” (Dunlap, 2008).
The Group recommended the “transformation of LCSH through decoupling of subject strings” (Dunlap, 2008). However, the management of Library of Congress feels strongly about the LCSH and has no intention of changing the system that has worked successfully for so many decades. The Library of Congress claims that the new system of information retrieval will make the process of “book retrieval haphazard, superficial, partial, and largely confined to English language books” (Dunlap, 2008).
Dunlap observes that the cataloguing system adopted by the Library of Congress and so far implemented by almost all major libraries across the globe is well researched and logical. The cataloguers in the Library of Congress are provided adequate training on the system and framework. The cataloguers assign the subject headings on the basis of the guidelines and framework provided. The cataloguer helps in developing the subject headings as a continuous process over the years based on the nature of books and periodicals received.
The “decoupling of subject strings” proposes to simplify each “subject field to a single term” for easy understanding and enhanced usability (Dunlap, 2008). The recent trends in information retrieval process is slowly replacing LCSH with keywords that are more usable in the online environment and provides easy access to users who are searching for information on specific subject matter or topic. Beacher Wiggins in his research on the future of LCSH (2007) observes that the keyword is a predominant approach to information retrieval on the web.
It is a relatively new concept that is widely accepted and used in the online environment. The keyword can be used by any layman to access information online whereas the use of subject headings require some amount of knowledge and training. The subject headings have been used by librarians and academicians for a long period of time and will continue to be used in regulated environment such as online public access catalogues, databases and knowledge management systems. Library of Congress assumed the practice of assigning subject headings that signify the main content represented by the information source.
The use of full subject string to retrieve resources enables precise search and selection facility. Wiggins (2007) claims that “LCSH as it stands is an ideal or perfect controlled vocabulary, but it is unique in its comprehensiveness and its rich terminology. To abandon the LCSH list would be a disservice to its users around the world, and would amount to dismantling the foundation on which much of the subject access services around the world is built. ” With growing use of networked environment the ideal solution would be to integrate LCSH with other online information retrieval systems.
The use of keyword will remain limited to general information seekers on the Web since it is both easy and convenient and does not require much knowledge on specific search strings or procedures. It is more scattered and disorganised in approach since each user will be making use of different search strings based on his ability and proficiency of Internet usage. LCSH is a refined tool used by librarians and academicians who have undergone significant amount of training to enable precise searches for information resources according to their needs.
LCSH can be effectively used in an online environment to enable precise search facility in the online public access catalogue. The keyword provides the user with a broad search term that encompasses multiple search terms or content. This does not provide the user with specific information required and hence has limited utility in terms of quality of search provided. Moreover, keyword search provides the user with an endless list of documents and reports that the user has to browse through. Not all of these are academic or authentic in nature.
This creates confusion and the user is left to decide on the various alternatives and choices displayed before him. John Ockerbloom in his work “Mapping the Library Future” (2008) lists various issues facing the LCSH today and these are related to the cost factor associated with the subject headings. He observes that the subject headings are both expensive and difficult to assign or maintain. Moreover, they are difficult to use constituting traditional terminology and complex strings and this has resulted in many libraries or institutions avoiding the use of LCSH.
Among the benefits listed by Ockerbloom is the richness of the terminologies used and the precise ways it is used to describe the content. The LCSH enables great precision in identifying subject areas and can identify items with subjects more precisely than any keyword search result. Users having the knowledge and idea of the LCSH find it a useful tool in searching or browsing for books or categories under subject indexes. “Detailed ontologies like Library of Congress Subject Headings can form the basis for useful browsing, if used with appropriate tools.
Subject maps build on library strengths to better connect our users with the resources they need in a distributed, digitized information environment” (Ockerbloom, 2008). Thomas Mann in his research work “A reference librarian’s thoughts on the future of bibliographic control” states that the goal of cataloguing is not just to give the researchers something but to provide them with an overview of relevant resources available for their needs. Simple keyword searching can provide the researchers with a whole lot of resources that may not be suitable for his needs.
He observes that “automatic methods of gaining access to information are not sufficient to show researchers the knowledge relationships embedded within LCSH subject strings themselves, within their cross references, and within their integral connections to the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) scheme. ” An integrated approach that involves the old bookshelf concept and the new Web context will provide the research libraries with added value and depth of information that supports all kinds of research activities and information requirements.
Mann agrees that print resources and web resources have distinctive qualities that cannot be superseded by one or the other. Both have distinctive roles to play and can add tremendous value to the researcher or academician’s work. Hence cataloguing in future encompasses the use of both standards working in tandem to provide the users with increased options and improved access to information resources of varied nature. Technology can be effectively used to create revised cataloguing standards that combine the benefits of traditional library inventory management and online cataloguing of information resources available in varied formats.
The transition from cards to online catalogue should provide effective retrieval methods that integrate the features of both to facilitate ease of use in searching for desired information and establishing standards for cataloguing books in a methodical manner. One of the vital considerations while drafting cataloguing frameworks is to provide flexibility to the rules and standards keeping in mind the increasing dynamism in the field of information retrieval and the diverse formats in which information is available.
However, one of the biggest disadvantages of transforming the existing framework and applying new standards is the conversion of existing records and the associated cost involved in the process. Tom Steele in his article “The new cooperative cataloguing” (2008) observes that the user today demands and expects innovative and interactive approach to extract the desired information. The freedom and choices available on the Internet has provided the user with a free hand in retrieving information resources without having to follow complex cataloguing rules and standards.
“Therefore, the traditional metadata creator like the catalogue librarian should play the role of helper, not authoritarian. Controlled vocabularies like the LCSH have been around a long time and will continue to play a major role in the library catalogue” (Steele, 2008). References: Question 1 1. Schulz, Nathalie. 2009. Joint Steering Committee for development of RDA. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. rda-jsc. org/rdafaq. html 2. RDA brochure. 2008. Resource Description and Access – the cataloguing standard for the 21st century. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. rda-jsc.
org/docs/rdabrochure-eng. pdf 3. Coyle, Karen and Hillmann, Diane. 2007. Resource Description and Access (RDA) – Cataloguing rules for the 20th century. D-Lib magazine Jan-Feb 2007. Volume 13 Number ?. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. dlib. org/dlib/january07/coyle/01coyle. html 4. Weihs, Jean. 2007. The case for a paper edition of RDA. Media periodicals division. Trozzolo Resources, Inc. Sept/Oct 2007. Vol 27 Iss 5. 5. Conners, David. 2008. A ghost in the catalogue: the gradual obsolescence of the main entry. The serials librarian, 55:1, 85-97. 6. Bowen, Jennifer and Attig, John. 2007.
RDA: A new cataloguing standard for a digital future. Music Library Association. 7. Dunsire, Gordon. 2008. RDA and library systems. 8. Moore, Julie Renee. 2006. RDA: New cataloguing rules: coming soon to a library near you! Catalogue Librarian. California State University. USA. Question 2 9. Hiorland, Birger. 2007. Library of Congress Subject Headings. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. db. dk/bh/lifeboat_ko/SPECIFIC%20SYSTEMS/library_of_congress_subject_head. htm 10. Drake, Mirriam A. 2003. Encyclopaedia of library and information science. 2nd edition. CRC Press. Pages 458-459. 11.
Dunlap, Kent J. 2008. Statement of J. Kent Dunlap Chief negotiator of the Library of Congress Professional Guild. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. guild2910. org/LC%20Professional%20Guild,%20Testimony,%20May%207,%202008. pdf 12. Wiggins, Beacher. 2007. Library of Congress Subject Headings. Pre vs Post coordination related issues. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. loc. gov/catdir/cpso/pre_vs_post. pdf 13. Mann, Thomas. 2007. Is precondition unnecessary in LCSH? Are websites more important to catalogue than books? A reference librarian’s thoughts on the future of bibliographic control.
Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. loc. gov/catdir/bibcontrol/mann_paper. pdf 14. Ockerbloom, John Mark. 2008. Mapping the library future – subject navigation for today’s and tomorrow’s library catalogues. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://works. bepress. com/cgi/viewcontent. cgi? article=1002&context=john_mark_ockerbloom 15. Mann, Thomas. 1998. The Oxford guide to library research. Oxford University Press. US. Pages 55-59. 16. Library Journal. 2006. The end of LCSH? Provocative report stirs up cataloguing discussion. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. libraryjournal.
com/article/CA6327144. html 17. Mann, Thomas. 2006. The changing nature of the catalogue and its integration with other discovery tools. Final report March 17, 2006. Prepared for the Library of Congress by Karen Calhoun. A critical review. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. guild2910. org/AFSCMECalhounReviewREV. pdf 18. Shelfmarks, Beyond. 2007. Library of Congress Classification in a New Setting. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. loc. gov/cds/chanarticle. html 19. Kreyche, Michael. 2008. Subject headings for the 21st century: the lchs. org bilingual database.
World library and information Congress. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. ifla. org. sg/IV/ifla74/papers/129-Kreyche-en. pdf 20. Carstens, Timothy and Buchanan, Heidi. 2004. The future of the catalogue: A user friendly academic search engine. Technical Services quarterly, 22:2 37-47. 21. Calhoun, Karen. 2007. The changing nature of the catalogue and its integration with other discovery tools. Prepared for the Library of Congress. 22. Steele, Tom. 2008. The new cooperative catalogue. Accessed on June 5th 2009 from http://www. emeraldinsight. com/0737-8831. htm