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