Book Reviews

Cataloging and Classification Standards and Rules. Edited by John J. Riemer. New York: Haworth Press, 1996. 235 p. ISBN 1–56024–806–8.

In an effort to facilitate the effective use of standards, the editor of this book provides a much–needed collection of papers on “what they are, how they are created, and how they relate to one another” (page 2). In an opening brief, he does a good job of introducing a context by summarizing the eleven articles.

Sally McCallum’s useful and informative article surveys the landscape of standards and draws the distinction between those which are de facto and those which are de jure. The latter were developed by ANSI, NISO, ISO, and industry groups, and are exemplified by MARC, Z39.50, ASCII, AACR2, and DDC. De facto standards represent a consensus reached by a close circle of self–selected groups and companies who found them useful. Examples are USC (Universal Character Set), LCRI, LCSH, LCC, and TCP/IP. Three key library standards are examined against this background: those which form the basis for encoding bibliographic data (MARC); for electronic documents (SGML–based); and for ordering and purchasing bibliographic items (EDIFACT–based).

Drawing upon his experience in the Division of Bibliographic Control of IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), Robert Holley describes its role in developing bibliographic control standards, and its process for setting those standards. Barbara Stern reviews the extent of international acceptance of AACR2 by examining problems faced by various Asian, African, and Nordic countries in translating or adopting AACR2, essentially up through 1991.

A detailed history of LCRI, once an “in–house documentation” and now a key component in cooperative cataloging programs, is given for the first time by Kay Guiles, Robert Ewald, and Barbara Tillett.

Karen M. Spicher traces the development of MARC. Her examination of primary sources shows how early automation experiences and other factors influenced MARC’s design up through 1970. Inasmuch as her article illustrates only the infant years of the bibliographic format, its title is rather misleading. No mention is made of the relationship of the bibliographic format to the family of MARC formats, its later developments, or its international implications. Later developments, such as format integration needs and issues, are not discussed. References to its relationship to UNIMARC are glaringly missing throughout the book, as are full citations of all of the USMARC formats. An article providing a more synthesized view of the family of MARC formats and their later development would have served a better purpose—although a separate chapter, by Guenther, is devoted to the USMARC format for classification data. “Standards for Name and Series Authority Records,” by Kuhagen, also addresses the USMARC Format for Authority Data. Sarah Thomas presents an apologetic for the Core Record as the brand–new standard for delivering, with cost–effectiveness, a maximum of bibliographic content for cooperative cataloging.

On the electronic document frontier, Casey Palowitch and Lisa Horowitz provide illuminating discussions of various possibilities of structuring “meta–information.” Instead of merely looking at this feature, they make an insightful contribution by examining how meta–information can be made an intrinsic part of an item (as in a book’s title, or a microfiche’s header). The authors recommend a model of specification for a generalized SGML meta–information header, based upon the principles of the TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) Independent Header. This would serve the needs of cataloging, automatic processing, and networked information resources.

Judith A. Kuhagen offers a useful chronology of the development of the name/series authority file, and examines its data content standards. Her discussion centers on the file’s evolution from LC’s local authority file to a national resource authority file, and on how that evolution has affected the standards. She highlights the complex management issues caused by the national file’s still being LC’s local authority file.

In “Standards and Rules for Subject Access,” Nancy J. Williamson presents a sweeping overview of the most important national and international tools for subject cataloging, and attempts to outline their origins, characteristics, and control. She underlines their importance in the design of bibliographic retrieval system, and tries to illustrate the importance of the relationship between alphabetic and systematic access. Considering the vastness of the contemporary subject analysis field, this is a Herculean task for a single article.

Rebecca S. Guenther demonstrates how refinement and further development of the USMARC Format for Classification Data take place, as she describes the decisions she made for implementing the Library of Congress Classification scheme. She examines the development, structure, content, and use of this standard. She also explores features of the format, and the beneficial enhancements desired for the online classification system. This article could well serve as a primer for anyone with a basic interest in the issues surrounding the online classification system, and in the direction in which it should be headed.

Using serials as a case study for reviewing recent research on sequential bibliographic relationships, Gregory H. Leazer challenges the adequacy of the MARC bibliographic format. More questions are raised than answers given, as he makes the case for systematic accommodation of the full range of relationships.

The book’s index should provide a more advantageous edge than the simultaneously published journal issue (a combined issue of numbers 3 and 4 of Volume 21 of Cataloging and Classification Quarterly in 1996), although the omission of some important terms (such as OSI, TEI header, URC character, URN, URL, and Z39.50) is noticeable.

The topics covered in this book need a much garnered text. The editor’s stated goal is only partially achieved, for the articles are of quite disparate levels: a few are indispensable; a few syntheses are outstanding; and a few should be rewritten, expanded, or replaced. On the whole, the book increases the need to discuss standards and rules in the electronic age, especially on the Internet. This text serves as an excellent overview of the challenges faced by those who are trying to interconnect the various standards for cataloging and classification, so that needed information can be retrieved effectively. (Reviewed in December 1996).

About the author

Gertrude S. Koh is professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois