The Way Ahead: A Report from the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control

Presentation sponsored by NETSL, introduction from Margaret Lourie.

Website for the group:

Report of working group was supposed to be out by this time (10/16/2007), but is still being written, discussed and debated. A draft of the report should go public in the next couple of weeks.

Why was the working group created?

  1. Series decision of LC: the negative reaction of community prompted response to try and address this
  2. LC’s Objectives:
    1. Adjust to changing environment of discovery and materials,
    2. Match investment made in bibliographic services to need for bibliographic services,
    3. Re-examine LC’s role played in relation to other organizations in country and what they should be addressing in light of that.

Members of working group: Group members

Who we are:
Organizational members (ALA, ARL, etc.)
At-large members (OCLC, Microsoft, Google- LC did not pick all members)
LC was an initial organizer of group, but then took a more minimal role and let group do its work

Our Charge:
(from website)
The charge of the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic control is to:

  • Present findings on how bibliographic control and other descriptive practices can effectively support management of and access to library materials in the evolving information and technology environment
  • Recommend ways in which the library community can collectively move toward achieving this vision
  • Advise the Library of Congress on its role and priorities

What we’ve done:
Changed group’s process by opening up to public (meeting schedule)
First WG meeting held Nov. 2006

3 regional public meetings held- Topics were “Users and Uses,” “Structures and Standards,” and “Economics and Organization.” The group encouraged wide discussion at these meetings.

The WG collected written testimony of attendees, solicited generally and from individuals.

Final WG meeting held August 2007.

What’s coming:
Finalizing recommendations
Release draft for public review
Submit report to LC on Nov. 13 2007

What we heard:

  1. Users and Uses:

– “And one man in his time plays many parts”
(Presentation by Swarthmore college facutly member on dispelling the myth of “the user”) The user is not a monolith; there are many types at many levels with many needs. There may be value in adding “values” to information, which we as purveyors of information, do not now do.
– Librarians are users too.
– So are computers. We should be thinking about ways systems use data differently, and how that should be managed and improved.

What we do in cataloging should incorporate more things other than discoverability.

Standards are…
Hard (to keep consistent and update quickly)
Developed in isolation
Ambiguous and inconsistent

MARC is evil
Too complex
Too much redundancy
Not flexible enough- for different materials, for user-contributed data (tags, etc.), as a container (reviews, book covers, etc.)

Don’t forget us:
Public libraries– importance of CIP, “public doesn’t mean simple,” lifecycle of circ’ed materials is much shorter
Consortsia– need to provide service across their catalogs, deduping, diff. local policies
Special libraries– Nt’l Geo. Society
Small libraries– Don’t have access to OCLC, etc., relying on CIP
Abstracting and Indexing– becoming more concerned with auth. ctrl

Economics of metadata
Get metadata ASAP from sources, do as little with it as you can
Get it cheap
Leave it to machines
Don’t fuss with it
Make it available
You can never have too much info in MD
Get it right- create incentives/compensation for ppl. who do
Leave it to experts
Make it worth my while

Metadata life cycle:
“And its time plays its many parts.”
Life span of the resource
Put out to pasture… or reborn?
Keeping up with the times- Google books: looking for “abortion”; in full text in 19th cent books will not get you any results. Additional metadata can bridge this gap.

The Charge revisited: Need to redefine some terms!
This term still includes traditional cataloging (AACR2, LCSH)
Needs to be broader
– in terms of content– articles, images, archiveds, digi coll
– in terms of context– extended OPAC, metasearch, courseware, open web (where will the data appear on the web?)
– in terms of purpose– evaluating, managing, connecting

Traditionally, this meant United States librarians and library associations
anglo-american cataloging community?
oclc community?
global library community?
system vendors?
publishers, content suppliers?
search engines, software suppliers?

The WG wants to make recommendations that can be realized (example: no point in recommending standards, etc. to publishers because they just won’t follow them)

What role is LC in this discussion?
as record supplier to the nation
in setting standards for quality
in standards development
in providing leadership

LC is not a national library in the European sense, they do not get special funding, or mandates to be the national library and all that entails.

Revisit what we do now:
simplify processes, not product
focus on FRBR
rethink economics of supply

Revisit extending impact of what we do:
reaching beyond catalog
expanding the way name authorities can work
leveraging controlled vocabularies
building services via identifiers

Revisiting how to think about these ideas:
building an evidence base (this has not been done very often in previous years)
education and re-education

Outcomes from report:

  • Negative
    widespread dissatisfaction
    selective reading
    skepticism about feasibility
  • Positive:
    reinforcement of values
    opportunities for impact
    sense of long-term directions

QUESTIONS: Will there be dissents published when the report comes out?
A: No.

QUESTIONS: How will recommendations be implemented after going public?
A: Some recommendations may have implementation suggestions with them, and there may be a method recommended for sustaining this work over time as well. LC will review about how-to accomplish the recommendations as well.

QUESTIONS: Are LC staff interested in work of the Group?
A: Yes, definitely. The LC Staff Association has sumbitted issues/comments to group, and will attend meetings soon.

QUESTIONS: How do we get the report ASAP?
A: Go to group’s web site.

QUESTIONS: Can you say more about the evaluative piece of adding to metadata?
A: We tend to separate librarians from users when they are the same thing. To what extent can catalogers be surrogates for expert users? We need to interconnect the evaluative stuff to the the objective catalog (tags, reviews, etc.)