The ghost of a card catalog

From today's Washington Post:

The catalogues are in the ground-floor lobby of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at Ninth and G streets NW, row after row of tan wooden chests containing hundreds of steel-handled drawers filled with approximately 4 million typewritten cards . . . ever since computer terminals began providing an online catalogue in 1984 and the library stopped updating the cards in 1991, frequent use has declined . . .

But . . . library officials say the city's flagship library and its outdated catalogues are stuck with each other -- literally. The cabinets are mounted on top of a concrete fill that is 31/2 inches deep and surrounded by granite, and any attempt to remove them would be an expensive proposition for a public library system strapped for cash and struggling to use what money it has to maintain aging branches.

Complete article.


Great Moments in the History of Technical Services

Joe Edelen of the MPLA distributed this link to a fun little pseudohistory by two catalogers at UC Irvine.


One Woman's 'Night' Duty Pays Off

Ruth noticed One Woman's 'Night' Duty Pays Off, a little story about a disagreement about where to shelve Elie Wiesel's autobiographical first book, "Night," about his experiences during the Holocaust.
Researcher Michele Lipson said Fiction, other people thought, she asked the author.

"Twenty minutes later, the flight attendant comes back and hands me the note I wrote. On it, he wrote, 'nonfiction.' I was thrilled. My grandmother said, 'Ah, you see. He didn't even sign it.'"


ISBNs to stretch to 13 digits as early as 2004

A report at BookTech Magazine says that the International Standards Organization (ISO) will likely update the ISBN from 10 to 13 digits:

\"Supporters of the change say the update is needed to avoid running out of ISBN numbers, and to make ISBN compatible with Europe\'s standard. The 13-digit European Article Numbering/Uniform Code Council, or EAN.UCC, is used by 900,000 companies.\"


Do The Dewey

Here\'s a neat little site from The Middletown Thrall Library. Includes a Test, a Bio and a nice Guide, all on the Dewey Decimal System. I couldn\'t seem to dig up anything like this for Library of Congress.


Missouri Botanical Garden launches bid to catalog all world's plant species

Jen Young points us to The St. Louis Dispatch and a story on The Missouri Botanical Garden, and plans to create a catalog of all the plants in the world - a sort of encyclopedia of every green living thing.
Peter Raven, the garden's director, envisions the database as a tool for documenting and protecting the approximately 400,000 plant species in the world, about a quarter to half of which are considered to be threatened by extinction.


Cataloging sex offenders

I was listening to today\'s Justice Talking program on NPR over my lunch hour. The debate was about Megan\'s Law requiring registration of sex offenders. Both participants agreed that information on former offenders should be available to anyone doing background checks, as long as they have a name to search by. The ACLU representative was arguing that it is unconstitutional to make the data public and searchable by address or other fields, and it occurred to me: this is a cataloging issue! It\'s all about access points and availability of data.


Al Qaeda cataloger

Jack Stephens writes \"A story in the New York Times (\"Qaeda Videos Seem to Show Chemical Tests\"; 8/19/02) describes a cache of videos recently recovered from Afghanistan by a CNN reporter as \"a library that was collected, cataloged and stored by unknown individuals, apparently to document the history of Al Qaeda.\"

So what I want to know is, Who does collection development and cataloging for Al Qaeda?!



Berman wins victory - LC to create new subject heading

Steve Fesenmaier writes \"Sanford Berman, using documentation provided by me, wrote the Library of Congress. Mr. Yee has acted quickly and within a few weeks - is this a record?- will create an important new subject heading. Filmmakers, authors, and others around WV and the country also wrote Mr. Yee. Congrats to all - and to Mr. Yee - for acting so quickly. The recent Pa. coal mine disaster may have helped our cause - disasters often cause change in Appalachcia. Here is Mr. Yee\'s letter -


Spelling of Foreign Names and Terror Tracking

Gerry writes \"Just thinking how this little problem reminds me of library issues.....

1) name authority, 2) romanization, 3) immigrant records and genealogy, anyone?\"

The Story says computerized databases at the FBI, CIA,
Immigration and Naturalization Service and
other agencies bulge with lists of suspected
terrorists. Some of the names identify actual
terrorists. Others are aliases, misspellings,
alternative spellings or misidentifications of
putative bad guys. And without extensive
fieldwork, there is no way to tell them apart.



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