From the Aacr to Online Public Access Catalogs

by Samuel Bryant - Date: 2008-11-27 - Word Count: 450 Share This!

In 1978, a revision to the AACR called The Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, Second Edition (AACR2) was published because of certain significant developments in the field of cataloging rules. One of these developments involved the increasing level of standardization between libraries of different countries for items such as monographs and serials. The second development was concerned with the rules for non-book materials, as the rules of 1967 were generally considered to be inadequate for non-book items. Finally, the Library of Congress announced that it would abandon the card catalog, making the decision to produce a second edition of the AACR an even easier task. The reconciliation between North American and British descriptive cataloging practices, and the effort to bring uniformity to cataloging in the English-speaking world, was the force that brought about AACR2.

In the early 1980s, some libraries began to feature online public access catalogs (OPACs), allowing users to access the libraries' catalog via computer. Prior to this time, the high cost of acquiring new computer technology and the difficulty of using the first software programs meant that libraries had to restrict use of online catalogs to a few specially trained librarians. It was not until the early 1990s that libraries of modest size could afford online computer catalogs. With the library patron in mind, the online catalog environment offers much in the way of improved subject access. Some of the benefits include: keyword searching, selective search combinations through Boolean operations (X or Y, X and Y, X but not Y, for instance), and automatic switching from lead-in terms to controlled terms.

The Internet became available to the public in the early 1990s and was a delivery system for knowledge that the library was unable to ignore. In 1994, the Machine-Readable Bibliographic Information (MARBI) Committee implemented Field 856 in USMARC for the electronic location and access of Internet resources. This addition to the records gives greater access to users.

Cataloging rules are maintained in the latest revision of the AACR2, which was implemented in 1988 with the title, American Cataloguing Rules, Second Edition, 1988 Revision (AACR2R). One big reason for the revision of the 1978 version was the modification of chapter nine, which was a response to the ever-changing nature of computer files.

Even though it is probably possible to find a library or two that still uses book catalogs, their existence is essentially history. Card and microform cataloging, on the other hand, still exist in many libraries; but, these are largely avoided by most patrons when computer-based catalogs are present. The online computer catalog takes the form of a text-based interface or a graphical user interface, the latter being the dominant form today.

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Related Tags: aacr2, opac, marbi

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