Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Public Affairs Office (202) 707-9217; John Byrum, Regional and Cooperative Cataloging (202) 707-6511

June 24, 1996

Library of Congress and British Library Sign Cataloging Policy Agreement

Winston Tabb, Associate Librarian at the Library of Congress, and Stuart Ede, acting Director of Acquisitions Processing and Cataloguing at the British Library, have signed a Memorandum of Agreement on Convergence of Cataloguing Policy.

The agreement puts into effect the provisions of a prior agreement, Cataloguing Policy Convergence Agreement (CPCA), aimed at aligning cataloging practices between the two institutions, especially regarding access points. Although the Library of Congress and the British Library share a common cataloging code, Anglo-American Cataloging Rules 2 (AACR2), differences in policy and the context in which particular headings were established had resulted in cases in which differing forms of headings were used for the same entity.

"The Cataloging Policy Convergence Agreement has finally achieved, or nearly so, the goal pursued for nearly a century of bringing into a common framework the cataloging practices of the United States and Great Britain," said Mr. Tabb. "AACR and AACR@ greatly narrowed the differences, but in the area of name headings, the CPCA has finally settled most of the remaining differences and pointed the direction toward solving the rest. It provides a firm foundation upon which the Library of Congress and the British Library can pursue their cooperative bibliographic ventures."

Mr. Ede noted that "the CPCA between the Library of Congress and the British Library marks another important step toward breaking down the artificial barriers to the exchange of bibliographic information across the Atlantic. The British Library attaches great importance to this and to the removal of similar barriers in Europe. I look forward to the time when there is truly unfettered interchange of catalog records across national boundaries, taking full advantage of the massive improvements in telecommunications worldwide."

Groundwork for the agreement, signed February 26, was laid in spring 1993, when the British Library expressed interest in exploring how the two national libraries could reconcile differences in cataloging practices to facilitate international exchange of bibliographic and authority records.

In addition to the duplication of effort in establishing the headings, the different forms used created a barrier to effective sharing of cataloging because of the need to adjust headings from the "U.K. form" to the "U.S. form" or vice-versa.

Compromises were made on both sides, with the result, as stated in the CPCA, that the Library of Congress and the British Library have now reached agreement on a common interpretation of AACR2 with regard to the formulation of access points for most names. The parties continue to explore strategies for resolving variations.

The British Library has mounted the U.S. National Authority File on its own system and has already begun to make use of existing headings where agreement on practice has been reached. The British Library is also contributing new and altered headings to the shared authority file. This contribution to NACO (National Coordinated Cataloging Operations) will increase significantly during 1996 and, in the future, the forms of headings in the British Library's Name Authority List (BLNAL) will be gradually superseded by the equivalent LC/NACO headings to create a truly international joint authority file.

This Anglo-American file will reduce duplication of effort and costs in establishing headings and provide greater consistency in headings used in cataloging records created on either side of the Atlantic. Together with programs on achieving alignment of MARC (machine-readable cataloging) formats and subject authorities, these developments indicate the growing strength of the cooperative relationship between the two institutions.

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PR 96-82
ISSN 0731-3527

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