Prevent the Library of Congress From Abandoning the Creation of Series Authority Records

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On April 20, 2006, the Library of Congress announced to the library community, via a member-only e-mail list for the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), that on May 1st, 2006, it would cease creating series authority records as part of the Library of Congress (LC) cataloging. There was no prior indication of this deleterious cataloging policy change to any other bibliographic entity including the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), to our knowledge, nor any discussion regarding its impact on the library community. The manner of communication prohibited any feedback from library communities regarding the decision, as there was no possibility given of reducing the effect of this decision by opening discussion for amelioration, or delaying the decision until libraries could address the change in their cataloging and online catalogs. The practically immediate enactment of this change gives libraries no chance to change their online catalog indexing methods to recover from the removal of series access and authority control in LC cataloged records. This extreme policy change directly and negatively affects the daily cataloging and series public access functions of many thousands of libraries in the U.S. and worldwide.

Furthermore, the decision is in opposition to several LC stated goals, agreements, and LC responsibilities that stem from its membership in various library organizations:

1.) It is directly opposed to several LC stated goals, objectives and performance measures as a national library program, such as Goal 3 of LC's strategic plan, to "Lead, promote, and support the growth and influence of the national and international library and information communities," related objectives, to "Provide leadership in defining and disseminating standards, protocols, and best practices," to "Provide processes and methods for promoting collaboration among, and contributions by, members of the library and information community," to "Advance librarianship and the value added by libraries worldwide," and related performance measures, to provide "Feedback from national and international library and information communities," and, finally, to provide "Feedback from National Library customers, as a measure of public awareness of the value of the Library to the nation." (URL for LC's strategic goals:
http://www.loc.gov/about/history/pdfs/04-08StrategicPlan23-49.pdf );

2.) This policy change is counter to the requirements of membership in OCLC, specifically, in the Principles of Cooperation, members are required to: "Create bibliographic records and related data at the fullest possible level, consistent with the standards and guidelines adopted by OCLC" (URL: http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/contribute/principles/ ); and, in the Guidelines for Contributions to WorldCat, "Member libraries will 'create bibliographic records and related data to the fullest possible level, consistent with the standards and guidelines adopted by OCLC.' This guideline allows librarians to contribute original cataloging to WorldCat according to the level of their expertise. OCLC recognizes that not all libraries will be able to contribute original cataloging to the highest level for every item in their collections. K-level cataloging is an accepted standard and option for briefer level cataloging, requiring only the ISBN, main entry, title, bound with or reproduction notes, and any applicable added entries. Cataloging training to help member libraries develop and retain cataloging skill is always available via the regional networks." (URL: http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/contribute/guidelines/ ). Furthermore, LC's records replace member copy records, which may actually contain correctly treated series, thus causing even less series access and control than that which will already be inflicted by the new LC cataloging copy without series authority control.

3.) This decision countermands LC's responsibility and commitment to the international library community, such as outlined in the aforementioned goal 3, and, for example, the agreement in 1996, between LC and the British Library in their "Cataloging Policy Convergence Agreement," which was "A prerequisite to the creation of a unified Anglo-American Authority File (AAAF), comprising name, uniform title and series headings created by the Library of Congress and the British Library and their respective co-operative partners is the agreement of the minimum acceptable contents of the authority record and the form of authority headings. This document affirms the commitment of both institutions to AAAF and details the specific actions required from both partners to ensure compatibility is achieved."(URL: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/pcc/converge.html)

4.) LC's action to cease series work directly opposes PCC's statement of mission, which LC, as a member, both contributed and agreed to. Specifically, "The Program for Cooperative Cataloging supports access to information resources, with a focus on the changing needs and expectations of the end user. The Program achieves its goals through cooperative efforts to increase cost-effective creation, sharing, and timely availability and use of authoritative records. These records are created using cataloging standards (currently AACR/MARC based) or derived from other bibliographic files and resources according to accepted standards. The Program assists with the promulgation of standards, develops education and training opportunities for catalogers, and influences the development of cataloging and resource discovery tools in its support of record creation activity" (URL: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/pcc/MissionStatement.html )

Our response to LC's decision to cease creating series authority records as part of LC cataloging and to the various commitments LC has removed itself from by this decision, is to issue the following petition to members of the Joint Committee of the Library, and to our individual congressional representatives, and to ask that other national and international library bodies, individual librarians, and concerned citizens follow suit, by stating that, in solidarity:

We, the undersigned, urge our leaders to act now to:

1.) Reverse the Library of Congress' decision to cease creating series authority records as part of Library of Congress cataloging and all changes related to this decision;

2.) Require the Library of Congress to open a dialogue, with participation from the library community, about proposed changes in cataloging and authority control, as well as the future of cataloging, the role of online catalogs and searching mechanisms, and LC's role in this work, in order for LC to gather feedback from national and international library and information communities, and provide well-considered decisions for the library community and LC; and, finally,

3.) Request that the Congress provide adequate funding to replace retiring staff in LC's Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access group, in order to maintain LC's stated role as a national bibliographic agency, responsible for providing processes and methods for promoting collaboration among, and contributions by, members of the library and information community.