Final Report: Library of Congress Working Group on Bibliographic Control

This posting includes the Executive Summary followed by a link to the full text of the Final Report:

“The Working Group hopes that this Report is viewed as a ‘call to action’ that informs and broadens participation in discussion and debate, conveys a sense of urgency, stimulates collaboration, and catalyzes thoughtful and deliberate action. We anticipate broad discussion of the Report’s recommendations and their implications, and look forward to the development of specific implementation plans, research agendas, and educational programs.”

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In November 2006, Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress, convened a Working Group to examine the future of bibliographic control in the 21st century. The formal charge to the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control was to:

• Present findings on how bibliographic control and other descriptive practices can effectively support management of and access to library materials in the evolving information and chnology environment;

• Recommend ways in which the library community can collectively move toward achieving this vision;

• Advise the Library of Congress on its role and priorities.

The Working Group interpreted this charge at its broadest. It considered current trends, current practices, new and emerging developments, and the growing array of participants in the evolving environment of knowledge production, distribution, and use.At its first meeting in November 2006, the Working Group decided to structure its process around a series of public meetings on the following themes:

• Users and uses of bibliographic data;

• Structures and standards for bibliographic control
• Economics and organization of bibliographic control.

While this Report is presented to the Library of Congress, it situates recommendations to the Library in the broader context of the environment in which the Library does and could function. Thus, the Report discusses and makes recommendations not only to the Library, but also to other current and potential participants in this environment. The Report is also aimed at policy-makers and decision-makers who influence the scope of operation of and constraints imposed upon participating organizations.

The Working Group envisions a future for bibliographic control that will be collaborative, decentralized, international in scope, and Web-based. The realization of this future will occur in cooperation with the private sector and with the active collaboration of library users. Data will be gathered from multiple sources; change will happen quickly; and bibliographic control will be dynamic, not static.

The Report is based on the key premise that the community is at a critical juncture in the evolution of bibliographic control and information access/provision. It is time to take stock of past practices, to look at today’s trends, and to project a future path consistent with the goals of bibliographic control: to facilitate discovery, management, identification, and access of and to library materials and other information products. Libraries must work in the most efficient and cooperative manner to minimize where possible the costs of bibliographic control, but both the Library of Congress and library administrators generally must recognize that they need to identify and allocate (or, as appropriate, reallocate) sufficient funding if they are serious about attaining the goals of improved and expanded bibliographic control.

On the Record: Executive Summary Page 2 of 44 January 9, 2008 The Working Group identified three broad guiding principles that formed the foundation for the Report and its recommendations. They are the need to redefine:

Bibliographic Control as broader than cataloging, comprehending all materials accessed through libraries, a diverse community of users, and a multiplicity of venues where information is sought.

The Bibliographic Universe beyond libraries, publishers and database producers to include creators, vendors, distributors, stores, and user communities, among others, across sectors and international boundaries.

The Role of the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress plays a unique role in the U.S. library community. Since it started distributing catalog cards, the Library has had a role as the primary source of bibliographic records for libraries in the United States. The environment within which the Library operates has changed dramatically (technological evolution and economic forces have driven the creation, production, distribution and use of information in multiple forms). It simply is neither feasible nor necessarily appropriate for the Library to continue to perform all its assumed roles-particularly when considering its own demanding legislative mandate for managing its vast and complex internal collections, services, and programs.
This Report deliberately sets broad directions for the future, rather than proposing specific implementation plans. The Report cannot address or even consider every future possibility as there are simply too many interdependencies, areas of responsibility, and spheres of influence to take into account. The Working Group views both immediate and long-term planning and implementation resulting from this Report to be a consultative, collaborative, community-based endeavor.

The recommendations in this Report fall into five general areas:

Increase the efficiency of bibliographic production for all libraries through increased cooperation and increased sharing of bibliographic records, and by maximizing the use of data produced through the entire “supply chain” for information resources.

Transfer effort into higher-value activity. In particular, expand the possibilities for knowledge creation by exposing to more users rare and unique materials held by libraries that are currently hidden from view and, consequently, underused.

Position our technology for the future by recognizing that the World Wide Web is both our technology platform and the appropriate platform for the delivery of our standards. Recognize that people are not the only users of the data we produce in the name of bibliographic control, but so too are machine applications that interact with those data in a variety of ways.

Position our community for the future by facilitating the incorporation of evaluative and other user-supplied information into our resource descriptions. Work to realize the potential of the FRBR framework for revealing and capitalizing on the various relationships that exist among information resources.

Strengthen the library profession through education and the development of measurements that will inform decision-making, now and in the future.

On the Record: Executive Summary Page 3 of 44 January 9, 2008 Each area includes a broad discussion of the issues to be examined, followed by our perceptions of the consequences of maintaining the status quo, the recommendations themselves, and the desired outcomes of those recommendations.

The Working Group anticipates U.S. leadership in bibliographic control to be a collaborative and coordinated effort on the part of the Library of Congress and other major participants. Given the expansive scope of its recommendations, this Report, while commissioned by and delivered to the Library of Congress, will be distributed broadly outside the Library. The Working Group recommends that the Library review and prioritize the recommendations that, in whole or in part, are directed to it. The Library should incorporate prioritized recommendations into its strategic and tactical plans. The Working Group also recommends that the broader library community and its constituent parts review those recommendations intended for broader consideration and coordinate priorities for participation and implementation.

The Working Group hopes that this Report is viewed as a “call to action” that informs and broadens participation in discussion and debate, conveys a sense of urgency, stimulates collaboration, and catalyzes thoughtful and deliberate action. We anticipate broad discussion of the Report’s recommendations and their implications, and look forward to the development of specific implementation plans, research agendas, and educational programs.

Final Report Library of Congress Working Group Bibliographic Control

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