A Report of the First National Conference on Library Cataloging, Wuhan, China, April 23-24, 2006

Ben Gu


    The First National Conference on Library Cataloging was held in Wuhan, China, April 23-24, 2006. It was jointly sponsored by the National Library of China and the Cataloging Committee of the Library Society of China, organized by Hubei Provincial Library and supported by Xinhua Bibliography. Among the 110 papers received by the organizers of the conference, there are 21 prize-winning papers (3 for first prize, 7 for second prize and 11 for third prize).

    During the conference, seven guest speakers gave presentations concerning various cataloging issues, including “Information organization and cataloging principles” by Prof. Songlin Wang, “An analysis of differences in Chinese and Western library cataloging” by Ms. Qinfang Xie, “Union cataloging of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences” by Mr. Guangxiang Hu, “Digital resource organization and metadata standards” by Ms. Ping Fu, “From ‘Paris Principles’ to international cataloging code” by Mr. Ming Lin / Mr. Shaoping Wang and “IFLA Division IV and its activities” by Dr. Ben Gu who also chaired the conference.

    Besides, thirteen speakers gave their presentations submitted to the conference, which focus on FRBR, FRAR, authority control, RDA, history of Western cataloging thought, and other library cataloging practical issues.

    The Library Supplement of the Xinhua Bibliography published interviews of the guest speakers and made a feature report on the current controversies on library cataloging rules.

    A special feature worth mentioning is that some speakers compared the differences of cataloging practices in different libraries, urged a unique cataloging rule for all libraries in China, and appealed for democracy, openness and multi-party participation in cataloging rule making.

    As people know, library cataloging in China lacks coordination in recent years. Although there are some rules jointly drafted by some major libraries, they are not fully followed or followed according to different ways of understanding. For example, there are controversies about the selection of information sources for the description of edition area. Some people think title page should be selected according to ISBD, while others think colophon should be selected according to Chinese special characteristics. Therefore, different rules result in different bibliographical records, and users find it hard to determine right records from different cataloging agencies.

    It is the first national conference specially on library cataloging and with diversified participants from all kinds of libraries. According to the recommendations of participants, the Library Society of China plans to make more efforts for the nationwide coordination after the IME ICC4 in Korea.

    Personally, I think it is a good opportunity for Chinese library catalogers to rethink their practices and discuss the possibilities of coordination. It would be a start for the cooperation of Chinese library catalogers and the internationalization of Chinese cataloging rules. After a few years, when the new International Cataloguing Principles, ISBD, RDA and other international cataloging documents are released, a brand-new and internationalized Chinese Library Cataloging Rules will appear.

SCATNews : Newsletter of the Standing Committee of the IFLA Cataloguing Section, ISSN 1022-9841, Number 25 (July 2006), p. 3.

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