Library of Congress Field Trip by lox59860


									                               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


        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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