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I was co-chair of the PCC Ad Hoc Series Review Task Force and part of a 
minority on that group advocating optional series tracing.   One of our 
arguments was that automation can covert series statements into controlled 
authority headings.   This has been done by Gary Strawn's programming, and 
commercially by LTI.   Several posters on this thread have argued that LC 
(and other PCC participants)  should check the authority file even if they 
don't contribute authority records.   But is it a good use of staff time 
to do something that can be automated?  Many libraries have catalogers 
check the authority file only for original cataloging, relying on 
automated processes (with some staff follow-up)  for copy, which is other 
institutions' original.   At Duke, LC's decision has not affected copy 
cataloging workflow, and has not significantly increased the work needed 
to control series tracings post-cataloging.

John Wright wrote about international complaints of "LC-centric" practice. 
  LC did not demand central stage in US cataloging.   It was willingly 
given to them, with the tacit understanding that they would continue to 
maintain the complex standards that they set for themselves.   I agree 
that it would be great to simplify series practice, and that the task 
force did not accomplish much in this area.   It is easier said than done. 
Changes such as allowing the creation of post-cataloging authority records 
were the source of extensive and heated debate.   Our simplified 
guidelines were presented in our discussion paper as either a supplement 
to or a partial replacement for the full training.   People who commented 
were overwhelmingly in support of the first option, and of the full 
training.  It seems that "LC-centrism" does not need LC to continue, at 
least in the short run.

In the long run, we need to realize that LC can't be what they used to be, 
and we can't take their place.  Although PCC members make significant 
contributions to the authority file, our collective BIBCO numbers are 
small in comparison to LC's output, and especially in comparison to the 
enormous growth of OCLC.  Recent posters voiced a popular opinion that 
they are not as authoritative as LC cataloging. 

I believe that the best way for PCC to promote quality cataloging is not 
to insist upon "LC-centric" standards for the few BIBCO records that we 
create, but to work to improve WorldCat as a whole.   Authority records 
are our most established way of doing this.  We could also lobby OCLC for 
things like better automated authority control, and be active Enhance 
participants whether or not the records are BIBCO.   Enhance is expanding, 
and WorldCat Local offers the possibility of a true union catalog, with 
cooperative catalog maintenance. 

And, perhaps there is a hope for simplified rules.  (Pause to duck 
incoming flames; consider whether to elaborate ...  No, this is long 
enough already.)

            How many catalogers does it take to change a light bulb?    I 
don't know, we need to find out how LC does it.
            How many catalogers does it take to change to less LC-centric 
outlook?      A lot, and we have to really WANT to change.

Amy


Amy H. Turner
Monographic Cataloger & Authority Control Coordinator
Duke University Libraries
Durham, NC   27708-0190
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