More on What’s Going On at the Library of Congress

Thomas Mann at the Library of Congress has written an update to his critical summary of changes there: More on What’s Going On at the Library of Congress, published through the Library of Congress Professional Guild, AFSCME 2910.

The cover page lists these topics in the 24 page document:

  • Series authority records
  • Integrating the Web into Online Public Access Catalogs (OPACs)
  • The Increasing Importance of Precoordination in LC Subject Headings
  • Maintaining a balance of OPAC and Web functions rather than forcing a transition
  • The pre-eminent importance of the book format for scholarship
  • The University of Chicago Task Force Report and its concentration on scholarly users
  • Misuse of body counts as determinative of importance
  • The proper goal for the Library of Congress and other research libraries
  • Misreading the evidence on interindexer consistency
  • The integral need for reference service
  • Proper and improper reliance on remote storage
  • The continuing need for onsite books shelved in subject classified arrangements
  • The larger information universe and its several component parts
  • “Under the hood” programming for “seamless one-stop shopping”?
  • The continuing need for reference librarians
  • Dumbing down the capability of scholarly research: LC management’s dismantling of
    cataloging and classification

Thomas Mann’s work on these issues of course has implictions beyond LoC, as he is addressing changes within the profession as a whole that deserve more critical attention and thought than they usually get. Those like Mann who are critical of many of these changes are often described as “traditionalists,” as though what is motivating them in their resistance is simply a generalized discomfort with change and a desire to maintain tradition for its own sake. Mann’s arguments are worthwhile reading for anyone in librarianship because they tie these questions of change to the basic values and goals on which the profession is still based and show the rational thinking behind the “traditionalist” perspective.

This article was today’s “Library Link of the Day.”

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