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Saturday, July 10, 2004
LIBR 526 Bibliographic Organisation Week One notes  
[Again, if you aren't me, you might find this boring].

Review Questions.

1. - What is meant by bibliographic organisation?
Arrangement of descriptive information about a given item/document, in order to permit access to that item (either physical or intellectual access, e.g. either locating an item within the library, or understanding its contents).

- Why is it important to organise bibliographic information?
Fairly obvious. Find stuff.

- Is there a distinctive New Zealand practice in bibliographic organisation and control?
Interesting. We do obviously follow AACR, and the vast majority of our libraries use either Dewey or LCSH. On the other hand, there's a move towards the creation of Maori subject headings, which is obviously unique to NZ. And its possible that our interpretation of AACR is subtly different from either the UK or the USA, in the same way that those countries interpret it differently (c.f. the discussion about the British Library and the Library of Congress, who both interpret the rules of AACR quite differently, in Oddy. [1])

- What are the major systems for bibliographic organisation?
bibliographies, catalogues, indexes, the internet [2]

-Should the characteristics of the ideal surrogate record be the same for printed sources of information and electronic sources?

Harvey and Hider (p.14) set out the characteristics of an ideal surrogate record: it uniquely identifies information resources; it identifies the resource's subject; it is brief; easily duplicated; standards-compliant; transferable to another system (e.g. MARC). So yes, the characteristics of an ideal surrogate record are the same for print and electronic resources. Though clearly the contents of the record could be different (electronic resources would need to include information about access that would be unnecessary for print resources).


What were the primary reasons behind the way in which early libraries organised entries in their catalogues?

Essentially to enable users to physically locate the documents. Included titles, number of lines in the work (Alexandria, Rome), and an attempt at colocation - subdivision by language (Latin vs Greek) and by subject, and then by author (Rome, with influences from Greece).

Which library first applied the modern principles of authorship?

The Bodleian (Oxford University), in its 3rd edition, 1674.

What are those principles?

-bibliographic control of the author's name - e.g. selecting one standardised form.
-cross-referencing from psuedonyms to the real name.
-entering translations under the name of the original author
-treating anonymous works systematically

Why did cataloguers draw a distinction between providing descriptive and subject access?


- Why did Cutter say 'no code of cataloguing could be adopted in all points by everyone?'

Because the users of that code will have widely different needs - he draws the distinction between libraries for study and libraries for reading (presumeably by "reading" he means reading for pleasure, e.g. public libraries). He's right. Small libraries don't need to catalogue to the same level of detail as LOC would.

- Why did he say cataloguing was an art, not a science?

Presumeably because there were always going to be subjective, intuitive elements to it, and no amount of rules could ever enable someone to blindly catalogue, it would always involve human input and interpretation. We'll never get automatic machine cataloguing. I agree with him, in other words.

4. Will cataloguing codes still be necessary in the future?

Oh yes. Just look at the development of standards within the computer world, and what are they but cataloguing codes? (see especially Dublin Core). The only way cataloguing will become unnecessary is if we develop text/data mining that is far, far more sophisticated than we have now. Possibly to a level that isn't even possible, although a lot of things have taken place that weren't thought possible.

5. Bibliographic community - farsighted in use of standards?

Why, because if they hadn't been it would be very difficult to catalogue consistently now, which would mean that we would be unable to share resources (especially bibliographic records) to the extent that we now do. I generally agree, but should note that the early adoption of standards can leave you with a poor standard. Look at DDC or MARC, both of which would be far, far different if they were built from scratch now.

6. Should all libraries adhere to standards?

-no, well not to the same extent, anyway. Smaller libraries don't have the same need to dot every i and cross every t, and in some cases it may even be counterproductive (e.g. the use of [2003?] instead of 2003 for a publication date, when the date is known but not explicitly stated, might just confuse users).

7. Will NZ be a winner or a loser if the bibliographic economy becomes increasingly market-driven?

Probably a loser. We're too small. The only advantage might be in that we are English speaking, and, as the world becomes dominated by Anglo-American processes (see the adoption of AACR by non-Anglo countries) we might be at an advantage here.

8. To what extent is NZ affected by the emphasis on mainstream North American and European culture in bibliographic practice?

Not as much as some countries - we're English-speaking and come from a Christian tradition and worldview, which fits in with Dewey (especially) better than Middle Eastern or Asian cultures do. The effect is probably greatest on Maori culture - bear in mind that concepts of individual authorship aren't as appropriate for Maori culture as they are for Western culture. It's also important to realise that all cultures (even American/European ones) are affected by the use of rules and systems developed 100-odd years ago - Dewey and LCSH aren't perfectly appropriate for modern Western culture, either.

[1] Oddy, Pat. 1998. "Bibliographic Standards and the Globalization of Bilbiographic Control" in Technical Services Today and Tomorrow (2nd ed)., ed. Michael Gorman (Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited).
[2]Harvey and Hider. 2003. Organising Knowledge in a Global Society: principles and practices in libraries and information centres (Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Stuart University), p.18