Well, there are a lot of hot topics floating around the cataloging world in addition to usual chatter about library catalogs (both good & bad, etc.), metadata vs. cataloging ( and the war would be where?), google as a model for library catalogs (I am actually writing a minipaper on that), etc. Probably, the hottest topic currently is the Library of Congress decision to stop tracing series. Anyhow, I won’t go into all of the particulars, as you can certainly find lots and lots of info about it by now.

In some ways, I can understand their rationale. Yes, they are facing budgetary crunches and the ‘greying’ of their professional staff (I heard recently that the average age of staff who have series expertise at LC is around 57). Databases are becoming more sophisicated and keyword searching is finally starting to be more reliable… However…

Libraries outside of LC, who rely on that Cataloging expertise will undoubtedly be negatively impacted at least in the short term. LC has always served as a (mostly) ‘expert’ in Cataloging, and in general, their records and decisions are followed by alot of Libraries.

Series is still an important access point, especially for researchers. I think sometimes libraries are encouraged to think about the lowest common denomiator in searching as being their only patron model, i.e., a person who knows nothing about how a library works and just needs a quick reference fact. The truth is much more complex. Even small libraries have a mix of quick reference, indepth research, patrons just using the facility as a community building, people browsing for fun, etc.

I also think as the Library of Congress serves as a defacto National Library, they do in fact, have a higher responsibility to the United States and librarianship in the United States.

So, keep an ear out, it’s bound to be an interesting ride, regardless of what the eventually decision is.

The Worst of Both Worlds: How Old Rules and New Interfaces Interfere with Access to Music

RLG to merge with OCLC