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International Standards for Universal Bibliographic Control
The formal charge for the IFLA study involving international bibliography standards was to delineate the functions that are performed by the bibliographic record with respect to various media, applications, and user needs. The method used was the entity relationship analysis technique. Three groups of entities that are the key objects of interest to users of bibliographic records were defined. The primary group contains four entities: work, expression, manifestation, and item. The second group includes entities responsible for the intellectual or artistic content, production, or ownership of entities in the first group. The third group includes entities that represent concepts, objects, events, and places. In the study we identified the attributes associated with each entity and the relationships that are most important to users. The attributes and relationships were mapped to the functional requirements for bibliographic records that were defined in terms of four user tasks: to find, identify, select, and ob tain. Basic requirements for national bibliographic records were recommended based on the entity analysis. The recommendations of the study are compared with two standards, AACR and the Dublin Core, to place them into pragmatic context. The results of the study are being used in the review of the complete set of ISBDs as the initial benchmark in determining data elements for each format.
Within the past few years, several major international efforts focused on the extent and nature of bibliographic control and access. This international attention underscores the continuing and expanded need for cooperative bibliographic control--both visionary and economical. The first effort I want to mention is the International Conference on the Principles and Future Direction of AACR held in Toronto, Canada, in October 1997. At this conference, librarians sought to examine the future international viability and direction of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules and how the rules might be revised given the rapidly changing environments in bibliographic access, emerging and changing formats, and human resource issues. Another important development has been the emergence of what is called the Dublin Core and its standard metadata for electronic resources that are accessible in a networked environment, such as the Internet. This standard for metadata represents a core bibliographic description whose elements c an be used to find, identify, select, and obtain resources. The last significant international development that I will mention, and the topic of this article, was the approval and publication of a long-awaited report of a multiyear IFLA study that focused on international bibliographic standards. This report recommends a set of standards for the components of a bibliographic record based upon the functions it performs through its essential bibliographic entities and the relationships important to those entities within a record and to other records. Based upon the results of the study, the report recommends how the bibliographic record should assist the user within the bibliographic universe and what minimum data and relationships should be required for a basic national bibliographic record.
During the summer of 1998 I attended a thought-provoking IFLA-sponsored regional seminar held at the National Library in Vilnius, Lithuania. The seminar topic was international bibliographic control issues, and it was primarily intended for librarians in the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. In addition to the Baltic speakers, "external" speakers came from the United Kingdom, Finland, Norway, the United States, and Croatia. Many papers were given, including "Digital Indigestion--Is There a Cure?" "Authority Control in an International Context in the New Environment," and "Traditional Communication Formats Versus SGML; Metadata; Dublin Core." Other papers were given on such topics as UNIMARC, Project BIBLINK in the Netherlands, OCLC's Project Use MARCON, and the IFLA functional requirements study. I was impressed by the clear interest of the participants in using international bibliographic standards and their obvious understanding that standards are essential for cooperative sharing of bibl iographic data for resource sharing, cataloging, and authority work.
What do these examples of international standards development mean in terms of the international cataloguing community? The need for quality bibliographic control continues to be of prime importance. The international …