Articles Posted in Library Technical Services

Here is the companion article to “In Appreciation of Library Catalogers and Cataloging Standards” posted by me 7/23/09. At the end of that article I wrote that I had asked Joni Cassidy to consider writing an article for this blog that woud explore RDA in greater depth. Joni agreed, I am proud to present to you the article below prepared by Joni and two senior members of her staff at Cassidy Cataloging Services.

David Badertscher

AACR Move Over! Here Comes RDA!

David Badertscher*

For almost forty years I have been in charge of law libraries. During that time I have acquired great appreciation and respect for the value and work of library catalogers. This posting is a small token of that respect and gratitude.

Have you ever wondered how all the information in library online catalogs, or OPACS is collected and organized in a way that makes it accessible and useful to us when we need it? As it turns out, the process of collecting–and especially organizing–this information and making it accessible to us is quite rigorous, involving complex, exacting standards and rules.

To perhaps oversimplify, cataloguing involves listing, analyzing, describing, classifying, identifying points of access such as subject headings or titles (access points) to the information being cataloged, and making any necessary preparation for user access from both within a library or through remote access from various locations, of knowledge based structured content (bibliographic content) associated with a library or group of libraries, all under the direction of specially trained professional catalogers. To ensure consistency and overall coordination of these processes both within and among libraries, it has been essential to establish well coordinated and agreed upon standards and conventions which catalogers working from diverse locations and organizations can rely upon to provide maximum benefit to us the end users.

For cataloging standards to remain relevant, they must take into account various factors including the preservation of the integrity and accessibility of the collection being cataloged, the mission of the organization housing or hosting the collection, needs and concerns of end users, and changes in information needs and cultural values over time. Depending on circumstances, such changes may necessitate either comparatively minor revisions or major revisions in order for these standards to remain relevant as the basis for effective cataloging. Judging from what I have read while preparing this posting it appears that catalogers have always been and continue to be very diligent and effective in this regard.

For many years the rules of cataloging have been primarily governed by a group of standards and rules called Anglo American Cataloguing Rules (AACR) and later AACR2 which is still being used as this is being written. Both AACR and AACR2 were designed to accommodate either hard copy (print or card catalogs) or earlier versions of computer-based or online catalogs. By the beginning of the 21st century it was widely recognized that either a major revision in AACR2 or a new standard that goes beyond existing cataloging codes was needed to provide adequate guidelines for cataloging digital resources, responding to the challenges of the world wide web, and to provide a greater emphasis on helping an increasingly diverse group of users to find, identify, select and obtain the information they need. After much discussion, consultation, and deliberation it was decided to go with a new standard called Resource Description and Access or RDA, which is scheduled to replace AACR2 later this year, 2009.

Why is this being discussed on a public blawg? Because we need to realize that although much of their work is behind the scenes and invisible to most of us, catalogers continue to play an important, critical role in enabling us to find the information essential to our going about our daily lives both at work and at home. Although search services are often useful, even vital, they are no substitute online catalogs when searching for bibliographic materials housed in libraries, groups of libraries or similar organizations. Cataloging standards can also form the basis for other forms of web searching. A prominent information consultant told me some years ago that he liked to hire catalogers for applications development in database and web searching because he found their training and expertise to be so helpful and effective.

To summarize, from all appearances cataloguers and cataloging continue to be highly relevant to our increasingly interactive and interconnected society with its growing information needs. But they need our recognition and appreciation for their many contributions. I hope this posting helps in that regard . Since this is a general discussion, I have left out many details of possible interest. To help fill in the blanks I have asked Joni Lynn Cassidy, President of Cassidy Cataloging Services to write her own article for this blawg. I am happy to report that she has accepted and we can all look forward to her forthcoming article.
_______________________________ *David Badertscher is the Principal Law Librarian at the New York Supreme Court Criminal Term Library, First Judicial District in New York, NY. Although not strictly a cataloger, he is interested in technical services issues and is a member of the AALL TS-SIS.

For those who are interested in pursuing this topic further, you can click on the link below to see some of the sources consulted in preparation for this posting.:
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Courtney Selby, the Collection Development/Instructional Services Librarian at the Mabee Legal information Center, University of Tulsa has summarized the results of her recent survey:

Last week I sent out a 4 question survey about recent changes in bindery policies and procedures in academic libraries. I received 16 replies (thanks so much!) and wanted to summarize them here. There were a few key similarities that I did want to point out. It looks like budgetary considerations are the primary motivators in most respondents’ review of bindery policies. Some folks did note that space considerations factored into their decisions, and those librarians often indicated that they also chose to discard unbound volumes after 2 to 3 years. Most respondents indicated that they had ceased binding journal titles available in HeinOnline, though most also continued to bind journals and bar materials from their home states. All respondents that mentioned CLE’s noted that they will continue to bind them.

· (budget reasons) stopped all binding except for exceptional cases, such as important books or books that are falling apart

Late in October 2008 rumors were circulating around the lbrary community that OCLC was in the process of updating its Guidelines for the Use and Transfer of OCLC Derived Records These rumors proved true; OCLC published its new policy on Sunday November 2, 2008. The reaction to these changes was sufficiently “swift and harsh” that on November 19, 2008 OCLC removed the original updated version and released a second updated version on November 19. Since that time reaction has continued to be animated, resulting in a continuing series of meetings, proposed changes, commentaries etc.

What is the present status of this discussion? To help answer that question Phyllis Post, who attended the May 2009 OCLC Members Council Meeting where a presentation was made by OCLC, has provided a brief but most helpful update which I received as an e-mail. With the permission of Phyllis I am posting her message below:


In a recent e-mail Robert Richards, a Law Librarian and Legal Information Consultant from Philadelphia, mentions a recent Associatiion of Research Libraries (ARL) preservation report, “Safeguarding Collections at the Dawn of the 21st Century: Describing Roles & Measuring Contemporary Preservation Activities in ARL Libraries,” .. More details are at The report is organized around three main sections: Preservation Functions; Networked Digital Environment; and Collaboration. Within each section, background and analysis are provided and recommendations offered for consideration by ARL

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Legal Information Services to the Public SIS has updated its publication, “How to Research a Legal Problem: A Guide for Non-Lawyers.” The text of the revised version, by LISP members Lee Warthen and Angus Nesbit, can be viewed here:

In the past this Guide has been published by AALL as a pamphlet and sold through AALL’s publications program for a modest fee. AALL wishes to evaluate whether publishing and selling the Guide as a print pamphlet, while also providing free digital access, remains viable, or whether a digital-only publication is more suitable. We’ve created a quick five-question survey to find out how your library might use the Guide and how you would prefer to receive it.

A quarterly journal published by John Wiley and Sons, Inc. on behalf of the American Bar Foundation.

Law & Social Inquiry is a multidisciplinary quarterly that publishes original research articles and wide-ranging review essays that contribute to the understanding of sociolegal processes.
Law & Social Inquiry’s combination of empirical and theoretical research with critique and appraisal of the sociolegal field make the journal a useful source for the latest research and commentary. Law & Social Inquiry’s ambit spans law and sociology, criminal justice,economics, political science, social psychology, history, philosophy and other social science and humanities disciplines. The journal publishes a wide range of scholarship on specific topics in law and society, including but not limited to law, legal institutions, the legal profession, and legal processes.

Below is a message, useful to law librarians and others, from the current Chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section. It includes information about new books and some discussion about publication activities within the Section :

Message from the Chair:

The Criminal Justice Section is comprised of a number of committees charged with the responsibility of addressing a broad array of criminal law topics. While each committee tends to focus on issues related to their special interest, when needed they all work in unison to make clear that we serve as the voice of criminal justice in the nation.

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