June 16, 2007

Thomas Mann’s new one

New essay by Thomas Mann, “The Peloponnesian War and the Future of Reference, Cataloging, and Scholarship in Research Libraries” (June 13, 2007). PDF, 41 pp.

ABSTRACT: The paper is an examination of the overall principles and practices of both reference service and cataloging operations in the promotion of scholarly research, pointing out important differences not just in content available onsite and offsite, but also among necessary search methods. It specifies the differences between scholarship and quick information seeking, and examines the implications of those differences for the future of cataloging. It examines various proposed alternatives to cataloging: relevance ranking, tagging, under-the-hood programming, etc. The paper considers the need for, and requirements of, education of researchers; and it examines in detail many of the glaring disconnects between theory and practice in the library profession today.

AFSCME 2910 urges readers of this essay to make their voices heard by writing to the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control. This advisory group will make recommendations to Library of Congress management which could determine the future of LC cataloging policy.

In particular, LC management is positioning itself to change its practices in two major ways: 1) LC is moving away from its practice of requiring subject expertise in its catalogers; and 2) it is questioning the practice of creating LC Subject Headings in precoordinated subject strings (see pages 21-27 of Mann’s paper). Without precoordination, the existing cross-reference structure, the linkages of LCSH to LC Classification, and the possibility of browse displays of subdivided headings in online catalogs, would be lost.

PLEASE MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD on these issues by writing to the Working Group BY THE DEADLINE OF JULY 15, 2007. You may contact them at: jmgriff@unc.edu

or you can fill out a web form at:

or you can mail your letters to:

Dr. Jos?©-Marie Griffiths
Dean and Professor
School of Information and Library Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
CB#3360, 100 Manning Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3360

The Working Group needs your input. Please speak up and encourage your colleagues to respond as well.

The Library of Congress Professional Guild
AFSCME Local 2910
Mail stop 9994
Room No. LM G-41
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540
(202) 707-6493/1304
Fax: (202) 707-1873

“Opinions expressed are those of the authors, and are not official statements by the Library of Congress.”


  1. […] Library Juice has the pdf of Thomas Mann’s latest essay, “The Peloponnesian War and the Future of Reference, Cataloging, and Scholarship in Research Libraries.” (Found via Cataloging Futures.) His point is that research librarians know how to find information in a bunch of ways that can’t be shoehorned into a Googlesque single search box (federated search). …I used not just keyword searching, but subject category searching (via LC’s subject headings), shelf-browsing (via LC’s classification system), related record searching, and citation searching. Further, as a librarian I thought in terms of types of literature–specialized encyclopedia articles, literature review articles, subject bibliographies–whose existence never even occurs to most non-librarians, who routinely think only in terms of subject searches rather than format searches. And, further, one of the reasons I sought out the Web database to begin with was that I knew it would also provide people contact information–i.e., the mail and e-mail addresses of scholars who have worked on the same topic. […]

    Pingback by Clarifying and Explaining » Blog Archive » Thomas Mann on the Future of Cataloging — September 14, 2007 @ 8:03 am

  2. Kramer auto Pingback[…] discovered via Rory Litwin at Library Juice that Thomas Mann has a new essay out. Whether you agree with him or not, Mann is essential reading for the future of cataloging debate. […]

    Pingback by Cataloging Futures: June 2007 — January 24, 2008 @ 8:55 pm

  3. […] Also refer to Thomas Mann’s article “The Peloponnesian War and the Future of Reference, Cataloging, and Scholarship in Research Libraries” (June 13, 2007) (http://libraryjuicepress.com/blog/?p=272) […]

    Pingback by Another Great ALCTS E-Forum | Celeripedean — March 17, 2011 @ 8:13 am

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