Library of Congress Field Trip Katie Heer A paradigm shift in current library processes is upon us. For years, our libraries have been well-maintained using the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2), but with the explosion of digital and electronic media, this format is beginning to reveal its inadequacies. As a result, RDA (Resource Description and Access) will be introduced to accommodate the variety of different types of media available to library patrons and consumers. Descriptive cataloguing has become more of a challenge because the old rules are directed towards cataloguing books; however, today a book may be in the form of an actual book, a DVD, an audio CD version, and even an e-file that you can download onto an I-pod. As our digital world continues to grow, the possibilities will be endless. Since we are still awaiting the introduction of RDA, cataloguers have had to adapt to these new types of media and have had to find creative solutions to the problems of descriptive cataloguing and subject analysis. During our interview at the Library of Congress, we learned that there are several more subject headings today than there used to be. Another paradigm shift that has affected library science and cataloguers is the shift in young adult literature. Because YA novels are now written to include more “adult” content and themes, cataloguers of these works have had to critically examine them in order to fairly represent the novels for the young readers, their parents, and their schools. Words used within the subject analysis of a YA novel need to be consistent, so that the patron knows what he/she is selecting. For example, if a YA novel includes a drug conflict or an abuse conflict that some schools and parents might find too mature for young readers, then the subject analysis done by the cataloguer should reflect that possibility. Our young library patrons in Baltimore County Public Schools certainly have a variety of choices: reading books online, using an Amazon Kindle to read texts, the availability of novels that deal with real issues that they may face (beyond those of losing a favorite pet or struggling in Algebra), and the globalization of information through the Internet, Fee based databases, and library online catalogues and databases. So many choices are available to them. However, one thing that probably will not change within their school or public libraries in the near future is the implication of the Dewey decimal system. During our field trip to the Library of Congress, the Dewey system was recognized as being an effective and efficient classification scheme for smaller libraries. Its insufficiency for a large library system like the Library of Congress was acknowledged, though. However, the Library of Congress system works well for large library systems, and has an infinite scheme for classification. Even though some trends change, the Library of Congress system has the ability to adapt and grow with a rapidly developing world. Computers, the Internet, I-pods, E-books…these have all changed and continue to change the organization of knowledge for library cataloguers, media specialists, library patrons , and all readers. New challenges will continue to arise as the possibilities are explored. When the University of Maryland began a project to make several children’s books available online, they learned that creating this convenience for young readers might create an inconvenience for them. Because these works were the intellectual property of their writers, the University of Maryland had to work to obtain permission from them in order to make them available online. Legally and ethically, this must be done to protect the writer until a book enters the public domain (decades after the writer’s death). However, how long will the rights of these artists be able to be protected? As the digital world grows, it becomes more and more difficult to maintain legal and ethical control over intellectual property. In library science and in the organization of knowledge, as in other fields, progress brings both its rewards and its challenges.
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