Web Magazine for Information Professionals

The Future of Cataloguing: Cataloguing and Indexing Group Conference

Paola Stillone reports on a three-day annual conference of the CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group (CIG), held at the University of Bath, 30 June - 2 July.

The conference was aimed at information professionals interested in looking at issues that are changing cataloguing and indexing. The latest international developments in metadata standards, cataloguing codes, taxonomies and controlled languages unlock new opportunities for cataloguers' involvement. They also raise complex interoperability issues which go beyond traditional cataloguing and highlight the need for the acquisition of new skills in the digital information environment. The event focused on three interlinked themes: new and emerging standards, collection-level description and professional education. It incorporated the 4th UK Cataloguing and Indexing Standards Forum, the 39th CIG Annual General Meeting and the CIG Committee Meeting. The event was wittily chaired by Alan Danskin, Chair of the CILIP CIG [1] who gave the keynote address and introduced each speaker.

New and Emerging Standards

Brave New FRBR World

The conference started with a presentation by Patrick Le Boeuf of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Patrick chairs the IFLA FRBR Review Group [2]. FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) is a model developed and recommended by IFLA (International Association of Library Associations and Institutions) in 1998 [3] as a consequence of one of the nine resolutions adopted in 1990 at the Stockholm Seminar on Bibliographic Records. It aims to produce a framework, based on user needs, for restructuring bibliographic databases to reflect the conceptual structure of information resources. The FRBR framework uses an entity-relationship model which conceptualises three groups of entities:

Traditional cataloguing using AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd edition) is based on the flat record concept and focused on the manifestation of the work, identified by an ISBN. FRBR insists on the contextualisation of the work and on bringing together all of its expressions and manifestations, as exemplified in its current implementations, mostly using XML, which include: AusLit Gateway, Virtua, OCLC's FRBR projects such as FictionFinder and the planned FRBRisation of WorldCat, the Research Libraries Group's RedLightGreen and the Library of Congress's FRBR Display Tool. If applied to ISBD (International Standard for Bibliographic Description), AACR and FRANAR (Functional Requirements and Numbering of Authority Records), FRBR will have a strong impact on cataloguing standards and information retrieval over the next twenty years.

4th UK Cataloguing and Indexing Standards Forum

Update on AACR

Sally Strutt, who chairs the CILIP/British Library Committee on AACR, described the changes in the pipeline for 2004 and 2005 and gave a broad overview of future developments for AACR. While 2004 revisions, to be published this August, focus on Chapter 9 (electronic resources) and multipart items, 2005 revisions will include changes to allow unusual capitalisation and to make explicit the designations of function (AACR2 21.0D). Sally announced that the project to develop a new edition of AACR is now underway with the working title AACR3: Resource Description and Access. The overall aim of the project, due for completion in 2007, is to introduce a simplified principle-based approach to cataloguing, encouraging its use as a content standard for metadata schema, implementation of the FRBR model and international applicability.

MARC 21 Developments 2004 / ISBN-13

Alan Danskin, Manager of Data Quality, Collection Acquisition and Description at the British Library, pointed out that, as UNICODE is adopted by a growing number of library systems worldwide, it has become apparent that its implementations are restricted by the limited MARC-8 characters repertoire. A range of proposals have been put forward in a Library of Congress report [4] on how to handle the transition and implement full UNICODE character encodings in MARC21. In his critique of the proposals, Alan outlined the key issues underlying the transition and illustrated changes to the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format, with the introduction of a new version in November. He proceeded to outline the benefits of the Metadata Authority Description Set [5], an XML schema for authority data influenced by FRBR and now available for review. Finally, he announced that ISBN-13, a 13-digit form, will replace ISBN-10 on 1 January 2007, and will also appear on publications prior to that date [6].

Collection-level Description

Collection level: Library - Collections, catalogue, clumps, and common information environments

On the following day, Gordon Dunsire, Deputy Director, Centre for Digital Library Research, University of Strathclyde, introduced the concept of collection-level description (CLD), defined as 'metadata at the level of aggregation'. CLD enables resource retrieval, discovery and landscaping at the level of aggregation, and therefore presents some advantages over item-level description, particularly in distributed digital information environments. Gordon described the development of information services in the UK, which include the Scottish Collections Network (SCONE) and JISC Information Environment (JISC IE), to illustrate the possible applications of CLDs and their outcomes.

Collection level: Museum - Collections descriptions at the Natural History Museum: a practical application

Rachel Perkins of the Natural History Museum then gave a persuasive presentation about the benefits of CLD to museums and its extension to all domains, including libraries, archives and digital and electronic collections. She described its uses as a collection and record management tool. Rachel concluded that CLD provides added value to museum services by encouraging the use of records across departments, thus preventing duplication, facilitating auditing of objects and resources, increasing security and enabling data capture.

Linnaeus Link Project: An international cooperative initiative to improve access to the works of Linnaeus and his students

Cathy Broad of the Linnaen Society of London, ended the morning session by describing the Linnaeus Link Project [7], based at the Natural History Museum. Its aim is to create a comprehensive union catalogue of Linnaean publications held in both national institutions and special collections worldwide and provide access through a free international Web resource. There will also be added information on every significant collection of published works, manuscripts and specimen.

New and Emerging Standards: Government Category List (GCL)

The View from the Centre

Stella Dextre Clarke, Information Consultant to the Cabinet Office, outlined the development of e-Government Metadata Standards (e-GMS) [8] and the Government Category List (GCL) for content management as part of the e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF), which aims to provide citizens with access to information held by every public body by 2004. GCL is a simple citizen-oriented taxonomy which consists of just 400 categories covering the whole of the UK public sector. It uses natural language rather than a controlled vocabulary and enables browsing rather than precise searching. Although guidance is provided in GCL maintenance, meta-tagging and software selection criteria, its implementation will pose some serious challenges.

Local Government Case Study

The last presentation of the day was by Mary Rowlatt, Strategic Information Manager, who described how Essex County Council responded to the challenge of adopting e-GMS to develop seamlessUK Citizen's Information Gateway in cooperation with eight other local authorities and other partners. The system is designed to provide local and national data in one search and enable browsing. Its taxonomy, which is displayed on the screen during a search, includes 2,800 terms and their synonyms. Mary reported problems experienced in getting organisations to apply metadata consistently and suggested a combined GCL/LGCL/seamlessUK list of terms and semi-automated metadata tagging as possible solutions.

Professional Education

Renaissance or Enlightenment? The re-emergence of unique professional skills

Biddy Fisher, Head of Academic Services and Development, Sheffield Hallam University, looked at professional education from the employer's perspective. She started by examining the findings of research carried out in the context of the CILIP Professional Development Framework, and pointed out that three of five elements of the Body of Professional Knowledge listed by researchers are part of cataloguing and classification work:

Biddy emphasised the need for cataloguers with information organisation and retrieval skills in digital environments. She also described the personal qualities, knowledge and experience required by employers, notably critical thinking, awareness of organisational imperatives, project working, and creative problem solving.

The Education of Cataloguers

Rodney Brunt, Leeds Metropolitan University, then put forward the educator's perspective, presenting a convincing case for the inclusion of the formal teaching of cataloguing in library and information studies curricula. He emphasised the essential role of cataloguing as the means by which the existence of all other library services is made possible. Rodney stated that original cataloguers will always be needed, regardless of current trends towards the development of new library services and outsourcing. Cataloguing principles and practice are also relevant to the development and application of metadata schema, Web site design, reader education, controlled vocabularies, machine-readable codes and other professional activities. He urged cataloguers to market their skills by contributing to current developments and publicising the outcomes and benefits of the services they deliver.


In the closing session Lesley White, Managing Director, Bibliographic Data Services (BDS), described the impact of outsourcing on library services, its history and potential benefits. She expressed the view that outsourcing enhances the catalogue by maintaining high standards of accuracy, currency and integrity at a time when the introduction of new standards and bibliographic tools has made cataloguing a more complex task which fewer practitioners are able to undertake. One of the most exciting outcomes of outsourcing is the incorporation of Scandisk technology aiming to make the catalogue more attractive to users and the use of dynamic XML, which has made it possible for data to be stored remotely and accessed from the library catalogue.


The conference was well worth attending, although the terminology used in some of the presentations on complex technical subjects constituted a challenge, while nonetheless offering opportunities for further exploration. It attracted delegates from a variety of backgrounds and institutions, facilitating networking and communication across sectors. Participants made favourable comments on the affordability of the event, the excellent catering arrangements at the University of Bath and how much they enjoyed social functions such as the reception, sponsored by Bibliographic Data Services (BDS), and the conference dinner. Special thanks ought to go to Diane Tough, Head of Cataloguing, Library and Information Services, Natural History Museum, for her part in organising the conference and dealing effectively with all sorts of unforeseen situations. Many of the presentations can be accessed at the CILIP CIG Web site [1]. Conference papers are due for publication in the next few issues of Catalogue & Index: periodical of CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group.


  1. Indexing and Cataloguing Group Web Site http://www.cilip.org.uk/groups/cig/cig.html
  2. IFLA FRBR Review Group Web Site http://www.ifla.org/VII/s13/wgfrbr/wgfrbr.htm
  3. IFLA Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. Functional requirements for bibliographic records: final report http://www.ifla.org/VII/s13/frbr/frbr.htm
  4. Cain, J. Assessment of options for handling full UNICODE Character Encodings in MARC 21: a study for Library of Congress. Part 1: New Scripts http://www.loc.gov/marc/marbi/2004/2004-report01.pdf
  5. Metadata Authority Description Schema http://www.loc.gov/standards/mads/
  6. Editor's note: Ann Chapman of UKOLN will be addressing ISBN-13 in an article in issue 41 of Ariadne.
  7. Linnaeus Link Project http://www.nhm.ac.uk/library/linn/
  8. e-Government Metadata Standard http://www.govtalk.gov.uk/schemasstandards/metadata.asp

Author Details

Paola Stillone
Senior Library Assistant (Cataloguing)
Medical Library
Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust and
Royal Free and University College Medical School of UCL

Email: P.Stillone@medsch.ucl.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/medicalschool/facilities/rfhmedlib/

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