Friday, June 09, 2006

More on LC cataloging changes

Last week Ann Puckett posted a message about changes in LC (Library of Congress, for you non-librarians) cataloging procedures. The immediate cause for concern was LC's announced plans to cease doing series authority work. Librarians are concerned that the Library of Congress appears to be abandoning its traditional role in maintaining standards for cataloging. The purpose of good cataloging (or so we have always believed) is to enable the user to find the information he or she needs.

Now here's more, this time regarding the CIP (Cataloging in Publication) program:

For those of us doing the cataloging and collection development work for small and special libraries, Library of Congress CIP (Cataloging-in-Publication) records can be essential. Here at CDHS, I rely fairly heavily on LC-supplied records as we don't have the money (or the ILS-support) to use a bibliographic utility, and our collection span is too specialized to be part of a consortium.


The questions herein are largely formatted in the "which services would you not mind too badly if we cut" style of question...this doesn't bode well for LC cataloging practice. Given the week-ago cessation to controlled series access, the emerging discussion on LC-supplied subject classification, and this CIP omen, we may be in for a huge paradigm shift in the role the Library of Congress will play.
I'm not sure what all of this means for law libraries. There are respected members of the library profession who believe that the time of the catalog as we have known it is past, or at least that the big catalog vendors are becoming increasingly irrelevant. (We're migrating to Ex Libris's ALEPH system as I write this: I wonder if this will be the last major sytem migration we make? What will take the place of the Innovative Interfaces and Sirsis?)

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