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November 30, 2007

Working Group on Bibliographic Control Releases Draft Report

The Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control has released its draft report on the future of bibliographic description in light of advances in search engine technology, the popularity of the Internet and the influx of electronic information resources.

In November 2006, Deanna Marcum, associate librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress, convened a group made up of representatives of several organizations—American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association (ALA), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Coalition for Networked Information, Medical Library Association, National Federation of Abstracting & Indexing Services, Program for Cooperative Cataloging and Special Libraries Association—and vendors (Google, OCLC and Microsoft)— to examine the role of bibliographic control and other descriptive practices in the evolving information and technology environment, and to make recommendations to the Library and to the larger library community.

The group's recommendations, available at its Web site at, emphasized the role of the Library of Congress not as a sole supplier, but rather as an important leader in the cataloging world. "We recognize that you do not have the resources to do everything," said Olivia Madison, representing ARL. "These recommendations are not for the Library of Congress alone but are intended for the entire library and library vendor communities."

  • Increase the efficiency of bibliographic production for all libraries through cooperation and sharing of bibliographic records and through use of data produced in the overall supply chain.
  • Transfer effort into high-value activity. In particular, provide greater value for knowledge creation by leveraging access for unique materials held by libraries that are currently hidden and underused.
  • Position technology by recognizing that the World Wide Web is libraries’ technology platform as well as the appropriate platform for standards. Recognize that users are not only people but also applications that interact with library data.
  • Position the library community for the future by adding evaluative, qualitative and quantitative analyses of resources. Work to realize the potential of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) framework.
  • Strengthen the library and information science profession through education and through development of metrics that will inform decision-making now and in the future.

"I am very pleased with the approach taken by the working group," Marcum said. "Instead of focusing solely on the Library of Congress, the members of the group looked at the bibliographic ecosystem and thought deeply about the contributions that can and should be made by all of its parts. We are already doing in an experimental way many of the things suggested by the Working Group in its presentation. Once the final report is received, our challenge will be to analyze the recommendations, decide on which ones should be implemented and move beyond pilot projects and tests."

The report is available for public comment through Dec. 15. The final report will be released by Jan. 9, 2008, in time for the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association.

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PR 07-244
ISSN 0731-3527

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