LC Working Group Issues Final Report on Bibliographic Futures

LC Working Group Issues Final Report on Bibliographic Futures

A Library of Congress task force has completed its mission to look at the future of cataloging and other forms of bibliographic control and recommend steps on how the library community can continue to provide effective access in a changing technological world. The LC Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control released On the Record, its 44-page final report, January 9 after responding to suggestions from a wide range of organizations and individuals who read a draft version issued November 30.

Characterizing itself as a “call to action” rather than a specific road map, the report offers recommendations that the Library of Congress can prioritize and add to its strategic and tactical plans, among them:

  • Suspend developmental work on the RDA: Resource Description and Access rules (the proposed replacement for AACR2 scheduled for 2009) until its “presumed benefits” are clearly demonstrated and the important component of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR)—a more holistic approach to bibliographic entities developed by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions—has been fully tested.
  • Promote wider participation in creating, enhancing, and distributing bibliographic data, perhaps by collaborating with publishers, national libraries, or library users.
  • Develop library systems that can accept user input and other non-library data without interfering with data contributed by libraries.
  • Transform the Library of Congress Subject Headings into a tool that provides a “more flexible means to create and modify subject data,” particularly by making it openly available, cross-referencing it between various classification systems, and translating it into a more accessible format for broader audiences.

Karen Coyle, a Berkeley, California, library consultant who assisted in creating the working group’s report, told American Libraries that the “RDA recommendation in the report may not actually be the hardest one to deal with,” especially since the Joint Steering Committee working on the rule revisions has clearly restated its intention to continue RDA development. She said that the call for wider collaboration requires a “departure from more than 100 years of U.S. library relationships with LC. I feel like we’re going to need something akin to institutional family therapy, where we scrap old, nonfunctional habits and try to become something new.”

The LC Working Group was set up in November 2006 by LC Associate Librarian for Library Services Deanna Marcum as part of the library’s efforts to improve its ability to meet user needs for bibliographic access.

Posted January 18, 2008.