Hi PCC colleagues,

Gemberling has hit the crux of a common misinterpretation of the LC 
report.  I am decidedly not recommending that libraries attempt to compete 
head to head with the Amazoogles.  I agree that would be unwise.  What I am 
saying (and which is after all the main topic and title of the report--the 
catalog's integration with other discovery tools) is that the catalog needs 
to find its place in the larger scholarly information universe.  Based on 
the interviewees' comments how to revitalize library catalogs, I am 
proposing three strategies that to one degree or another, separate the 
catalog's discovery function from its delivery and management 
functions.  The ideal would be to make it as easy for a student or 
researcher to find, then borrow a book on the Web as it is for them to buy 
a book on the Web.  The library community won't be able to achieve the 
ideal in a single step, and not by acting as individual libraries, but more 
collaboratively than before.

Sections 1 to 3 of the  blueprint (pages 16-17) have gotten very little 
attention in the public discussion so far, but they are essential first 
steps to planning for revitalizing catalogs.  Section 1, "define the 
community to be served" is where the library would decide who they want 
their catalog to serve (the catalog's "niche" if you will), and what those 
people want and need--through an evidence-based process (recommendation 
1.2).  Section 2, "choose a strategic option" would help the library define 
its approach--continue with an ILS-centered approach, in which the local 
OPAC is greatly improved (as at NC State, and as described in section 5 of 
the blueprint), or open the collection to greater demand and use by sharing 
a catalog with other libraries (as in the OhioLink and other emerging 
models for shared catalogs)? Third, what are the library's possibilities 
for making its collections more visible in the Amazoogles, through 
partnerships with other libraries and with initiatives like the Open 
Content Alliance, Million Book Project, and/or the Google Library 
Project?  I should note here that none of the three strategies is better 
than another, and the blueprint should be taken as a planning tool, as I 
note on page 12 ("Different research libraries and the organizations that 
serve them will choose different strategies ..." )

Section 3 of the blueprint is equally important.  For catalogs to be 
integrated with other discovery tools, the data structures and systems that 
run them must interoperate in the larger information systems 
environment.  On page 38, I say "Interviewees seem to agree that however it 
is done, catalogs must blend into the user's environment and engage users 
more.  The user's experience needs to be more seamless, with easy movement 
between the services that occupy students and scholars--course pages, 
commercial databases, repositories, search engines, and so on.  Although 
they may have expressed it differently, interviewees find linking in and 
out of the catalog a crucial component of what is needed to move ahead ... 
The future will require the kind of catalog that is one link in a chain of 
services enabling users to find, select, and obtain the information objects 
they want."  In summary, a student or scholar should have many starting 
points on the Web enabling them to find catalog data and thus, library 


At 07:36 PM 05/02/06, you wrote:
>Thanks for the overview of your article.  Here's another perspective on 
>the "Copernican shift" analogy.  Actually, I just got an email from Mann 
>that I don't think he would mind me sharing in part and which seems to 
>address that idea. You wrote of the shift as: "the (evolving) catalog as 
>one tool among many for online information discovery, and not as the 
>center of the library's information discovery universe."  Here's what he said:
>[I]t occurs to me that research libraries that _do_ "market" their 
>services as being in competition with Google et al. may be creating 
>self-fulfilling scenarios for irrelevance.  If they don't promote 
>themselves as _alternatives_ to Google--the "niche" I talked about--then 
>there's no way they can ever get adequate funding to be _competitors_ to 
>Google for people's attention.  In other words, if libraries don't hold up 
>the importance of substantial onsite book collections, arranged by subject 
>and cataloged so that overviews are possible, and if they just go the 
>route, instead, of providing banks of terminals and lots of study rooms 
>and coffee bars, then their funding _will_ be diminished, because those 
>things aren't necessary and people can get them remotely.  "Be careful of 
>what you ask for" is a warning we have to heed--many libraries are 
>_asking_ to be regarded as superfluous when they attempt to compete with 
>Google in the "business model" with "market position" instead of promoting 
>themselves as the alternative to Google.
>             --Ted Gemberling
>From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On 
>Behalf Of Jim LeBlanc
>Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 3:36 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Calhoun report
>Dear PCC Colleagues:
>      As one of the authors of the LCC study cited by both Karen Calhoun 
> and Ted Gemberling, I'd like to toss another ante onto the table.
>      The paper in question, "Exploring the Potential of a Virtual 
> Undergraduate Library Collection Based on the Hierarchical Interface to 
> LC Classification [HILCC]," presents an extension of work started at 
> Columbia University a few years ago and continued at Cornell University 
> more recently.  For Columbia, the goal was to leverage existing MARC data 
> to build a separate subject catalog for their e-resources; for Cornell, 
> the goal was to use a similar strategy to examine the possibility of 
> creating such a catalog for a library's undergraduate (print) 
> collection.  Adam Chandler and I did conclude that the technique would 
> not scale well beyond 150,000 titles, but that it could work very well 
> for a collection of less than 150,000 titles.
>      I think it's important to keep in mind that Calhoun is careful not 
> to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" in her paper, in spite of her 
> emphasis on the diminished importance of the catalog.  She says: "If one 
> accepts the premise that library collections have value, then library 
> leaders must move swiftly to establish the catalog within the framework 
> of online information discovery systems of all kinds" (Calhoun, 7).  Her 
> paper suggests (I think) a kind of Copernican shift towards using the 
> (evolving) catalog as one tool among many for online information 
> discovery, and not as the center of the library's information discovery 
> universe.  Research on, and implementation of models such as HILCC 
> represent attempts to add more such tools to our belt.
>      The formal, revised version of Cornell's HILCC study is forthcoming 
> in Library Resources & Technical Services in July.
>-- Jim LeBlanc, Cornell University Library
>At 01:38 PM 5/2/2006, you wrote:
>Dear PCC colleagues:
>Since we're stressing over LC's series announcement, I thought I would 
>pass on to you a discussion I wrote of the Calhoun and Mann reports on the 
>future of cataloging.  They have immediate relevance to the series issues, 
>since LC's decision is very much in line with the "general direction" of 
>Calhoun's recommendations.  Here I intend to advocate Mann's criticism of 
>the Calhoun report.  In case you haven't seen the report or his review, 
>here they are:
>I also discuss the University of California report on "Rethinking how we 
>provide bibliographical services" below.
>There are a couple of areas where I think Mann isn't exactly right.  He 
>suggests near the end that Calhoun is unaware of the relationship between 
>LCSH and LCC.  That she should realize that you can't assign LCC numbers 
>if you don't assign LCSH headings.  As I told him over e-mail, I suspect 
>she is aware of the relationship, given that she cites a study at the 
>bottom of p. 17 (and footnote 13, p. 46) entitled, "Exploring the 
>Potential of a Virtual Undergraduate Library Collection Based on the 
>Hierarchical Interface to LC Classification," by Chandler and 
>LeBlanc.  She writes of both LCC classification and LCSH, so I assume she 
>must be aware that they have a relationship.  I also pointed out that it 
>probably is possible to use LCC and not LCSH; after all, lots of public 
>libraries use DDC and LCSH, so there isn't a necessary link.  LCC and LCSH 
>are two different subject schemes.
>But like Mann, I don't understand why one would want to use LCC and not 
>LCSH.  It seems to be an attempt to get rid of some work and make 
>cataloging cheaper.  That is, I don't know why one would want to unless 
>it's because we can't afford to use both anymore, which is what I think 
>the real agenda of Calhoun's study is.  It can't be done without reducing 
>users' access to resources.  LCC allows serendipitous discovery and 
>browsing, but LCSH is less arbitrary: you can use multiple subject 
>headings, but there can only be one call number for a book.  So I agree 
>with the thrust of Mann's argument while recognizing that there's a bit of 
>rhetorical exaggeration there.
>This is a good place to bring up one more point.  If you actually look at 
>the study by Chandler and LeBlanc, you will find that though Calhoun cites 
>it as pointing towards a great possibility (apparently getting online 
>subject access from LCC without need for LCSH), the study itself is 
>actually a kind of report of failure, if I understand it correctly, at 
>least in regard to large collections:
>The authors found that they couldn't provide such subject access to a 
>collection of over 150,000 volumes (p. 8).  Now, admittedly, they hold out 
>some hope that this could be improved somehow.  But they certainly don't 
>present it as a new option for major research libraries.  Do we want to 
>plan our libraries around theoretical possibilities or actual experience?
>I appreciate the need to achieve both quality and efficiency in our 
>cataloging.  But right now, it appears that some important principles are 
>threatened.  As one person wrote on the list last week, "let's not throw 
>the baby out with the bathwater."  But if we have to because the American 
>people don't want to support libraries financially, let's at least face 
>that and deal with its significance rather than claiming we don't need our 
>established practices anymore.
>             --Ted Gemberling, UAB Lister Hill Library, Birmingham, Ala.
>Jim LeBlanc, Ph.D.
>Head, Database Management Services
>Library Technical Services
>110A Olin Library
>Cornell University
>Ithaca, NY 14853
>Phone: (607) 254-5290
>Fax: (607) 255-6110
>E-mail: [log in to unmask]

Karen Calhoun
Associate University Librarian
for Technical Services
111A Olin Library
Cornell University
Ithaca NY 14853

Voice: 607-255-9915
Voice (Mondays 1:00-5:00): 607-254-8097
Fax:     607-255-6110
E-mail: [log in to unmask]